The next generation of doctors are valuing regional training with the University of Melbourne welcoming a record number of medical students this year.
Twenty-four second-year medical students have chosen to train in Ballarat for their first year of clinical training.
The 13 women and 11 men will spend their first weeks in a "foundation term" learning about the hospital, talking to patients and revising their clinical skills before joining medical teams to further their knowledge.
Dr Shabna Rajapaksa and Dr Penny Cotton run the university's Rural Clinical School in Ballarat in addition to their roles at Ballarat Health Services.
The University of Melbourne medical students are doing clinical placements as part of a post-graduate degree as they train to become doctors. In addition to metropolitan placements, students can choose a rural clinical placement at Shepparton, Bendigo, Wangaratta or Ballarat and for all 24 new students Ballarat was their first choice.
"I think that's very much thanks to the patients and people in the community who are incredibly accommodation and really keen to support junior doctors in their learning," Dr Rajapaksa said.
"For the students, stepping out of the classroom in to the hospital is a very big step and when they meet people in Ballarat and meet patients they are always welcome. The patients have time, they know the students are here to learn and study and become the next generation of doctors."
In addition to the large cohort of second-year students, there are 12 third year and at least three fourth year students who have chosen to do research based in Ballarat.
It is the 20th year that students have been coming to the University of Melbourne's Rural Clinical School, but medical students have been coming to Ballarat for about 40 years.
Dr Rajapaksa said regional training opportunities were vital for young doctors.
"Whether they remain in a regional or rural centre or work in the city, regional patients do have to go to the city for some reviews and treatment and if they understand the regional community and the challenges people face, not just geographically but all the things that are part of living in a regional town, you have a more empathetic doctor," she said.
"And students get the chance to build their communication skills as they become part of a team and learn to relate to people, which in a busy city clinical school they may not get that chance."
Deakin University and the University of Notre Dame also have medical students training in Ballarat, with 42 Deakin students at BHS and 16 Notre Dame students at St John of God hospital.
Have you signed up to The Courier's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.