About the program

VRGP Regions - Barwon South West

In this article

About the Region

The region includes the Great South Coast and extends along the coast from the major centres of Warrnambool and Portland, to the South Australian border and inland to Hamilton. The region is noted for its natural beauty, excellent educational facilities, agriculture and produce. South West Healthcare is based in Warrnambool, which is a Seaside university town. It includes:

  • Affordable accommodation
  • Part-time work available for students
  • Lots of clubs/activities available (sports etc)
  • Thriving arts and live music culture (gallery exhibitions, Light House Theatre)
  • Frequent train service to Melbourne
  • Lots of great restaurants/cafes/pubs

Frequent community events

  • WUNTA festival
  • Jazz in the gardens
  • Oktoberfest
  • May racing carnival
  • Christmas markets
  • ‘Wednesdays on the wharf’- live music at Flagstaff Hill
  • Port Fairy Folk Festival
  • Whale-boat racing carnival


Great lifestyle all year round, and well known for:

  • Beaches (ocean swimming, surfing)
  • River (rowing, fishing)
  • Whale watching
    • Minimal travel time to get to hospital
    • A wide range of indoor and outdoor sporting facilities available.
    • An excellent art gallery and Performing Arts Centre are located within the central business district.Our Training Program

Our training program

South West Health has developed an innovative intern program that provides an undifferentiated generalist year, with a focus on rural and community medicine.

Twelve intern posts are available:

  • 5 Victorian Rural Generalist year 1 positions.
  • 5 South West Healthcare hospital positions
  • 2 South West Indigenous Community Internship Program (SWICIP) positions
  • Core rotations located at SWH.
  • Possible elective rotations include: Rehabilitation medicine/GP, Geriatric medicine, Oncology and Psychiatry.
  • GP experience within the Rehabilitation medicine/GP rotation, with parallel consulting at the South West Medical Centre.
  • SWICIP posts involve a 12month part time (2 days per week) longitudinal placement in a GP clinic at a regional Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation. Across the year the core rotations of General Medicine, General Surgery and Emergency medicine are completed part time (3 days per week) in three 4 month placements- providing longitudinal experience and supervision in those core rotations.

Formal education includes:

  • Weekly protected intern tutorials                                          
  • Inter-professional clinical simulation sessions
  • Unit meetings                  
    • Journal Clubs
    • Case presentations
    • Medical Imaging meetings 

Twelve PGY 2 posts are available. Rotations include:

  • Paediatrics
  • Geriatric medicine
  • Rehabilitation medicine
  • General Medicine
  • Emergency medicine
  • General Surgery and rotations at Portland (PDH)


The aim is to create a sustainable medical training pathway in south west Victoria.

There is a well established regional GP training pathway, from medical student to specialist GP, including the VRGP option. In association with the Western Victoria Rural Training Hub, regional training programs in General Surgery and General Medicine are currently being developed, with future plans for further medical specialties.

Hear from other VRGP trainees

Dr. Shane Richards

South West Healthcare Warrnambool has felt like the right place to be from the morning I started. It’s big enough that you get the volume and variety you need as a junior starting out, but small enough that you don’t get lost in the system, and you feel like what you’re doing makes a difference. There’s a good range of generalist and specialty services, and the support is there to ensure that we’re able to keep some of the more complex patients. Everyone I’ve worked with – from medical and nursing staff to allied health and administrative personnel – has been terrific: compassionate with patients, professional and positive with their colleagues. It’s really noticeable and it makes coming to work each day so much more enjoyable!

It’s big enough that you get the volume and variety you need as a junior starting out, but small enough that you don’t get lost in the system

As a junior doctor looking to build a career as a rural generalist, I’m confident that I can gain the experiences and opportunities I need at Warrnambool. It’s clear that medical administration is keen to support aspiring rural doctors and are working to create pathways to assist us to progress –so I’m very happy to recommend SWHC Warrnambool to other junior doctors considering a rural career!

Dr. Tessa Low 

I have had a wonderful, challenging start to my internship at South West Healthcare, having completed medical school training in city hospitals. I have new friends in my fellow interns and HMOs; us being a small group means we are supportive and can get to know each other. We have weekly get-togethers - everyone is welcome to join us! Having just finished my rotation in Emergency Medicine, I also received great support and guidance from the team which, given the breadth of medicine that comes through the doors, I certainly needed. I felt that I was given independence to work, but never to be afraid to ask for a helping hand.

I also received great support and guidance from the team

Explore our other regions

Find out more about living and working as a rural GP in Victoria's five exciting regional areas.

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