Associate Professor Riitta Partanen

Director, Rural Clinical School

Medical School (Office & AME)
Faculty of Medicine
+61 7 419 44807


Associate Professor Riitta Partanen is the Director of the UQ Rural Clinical School. The Rural Clinical School includes the four Regional Clinical Units based in Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Rockhampton and Toowoomba and the Rural and Remote Medicine Clinical Unit which includes over 50 communities across the southern half of Queensland. A/Prof Partanen is a specialist GP and continues to be clinically active having already served the community of Maryborough, Qld since 1994.

As the inaugural Head of the Hervey Bay Regional Clinical Unit (HBRCU), she has been involved with UQ Rural Clinical School since 2005. Since then, her roles have also included: the Co-Director of Learning for the UQRCS, GP Academic Lead for HBRCU, Acting Head of the UQRCS, and the Academic Lead for Phase 2 (Years 3 &4) of the UQ Medical Program. She handed over the reins of the Head of the HBRCU in 2020 after 15 years, when she commenced as the Director, UQRCS.

Previously A/Prof Partanen has served as Board member and Chair of the Wide Bay Division of General Practice, member of RACGP Rural Medical Education Committee and currently member of the RACGP Doctors for Women in Rural Medicine Committee. A/Prof Partanen is a member of the FRAME (Federation of Rural Australian Medical Educators) Policy Group and FRAME co-delegate for the National Rural Health Alliance. She interested in contributing to policy development and innovations in medical education and training pathways so that rural communities have equitable access to health care, close to home at the time they need it.

Her research interests include rural medical workforce, rural medical education, rural training pathways and General Practice issues such as depression and liver disease. She is currently a PhD candidate exploring Geographical Narcissism during medical education and training and its impact on ruling in or ruling out future rural medical practice.

Research Interests

  • Growing the rural medical workforce and factors that influence workplace location choices
  • Rural medical education
  • Rural end-to-end medical education and training pathways
  • Supporting safe cessation of long-term antidepressants when there is no clinical indication for continued use and social prescribing in the management of depression
  • To improve early HCC diagnosis by increasing cirrhosis detection and HCC surveillance rates using a readily implementable and cost-effective risk-stratification pathway in primary care

Research Impacts

A/Prof Partanen is passionate about improving the health outcomes of rural people through the provision of high-quality medical education and training based in rural and regional communities. Her research is contributing to the growing body of evidence in the area of rural medical workforce, the factors that impact of choosing to become a rural doctor.

Her research into medical student teaching in the General Practice setting provides evidence that patients, GPs and students are very satisfied with the teaching consultation.

Her research into depression and long-term anti-depressant usage has identified the challenges GPs have in deprescribing and the importance of social prescribing in the management of depression.


  • Fellowship, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
  • Diploma in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
  • Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery, The University of Queensland


View all Publications


Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

  • World Health Organisation Team, Strasser, Sarah, Austin, Marni, Bendotti, Hollie, Bourke, Gary, Campbell, David, Campbell, Narelle , Chater, Alan Bruce, Chong, Hwee Sin , Cribb, Jacqueline, Cumming, Kay, Doty, Barbara Jean, Eley, Diann, Erikson, Jay S., Florentis, Anastasia, Floss, Mayara, Goot, Katie, Greacen, Jane, Jonk, Yvonne , Khoo, Kean, Kondalsamy-Chennakesavan, Srinivas, Lamb, Margaret, Longenecker, Randall, McGrail, Matthew, Nasir, Bushra, Partanen, Riitta, Paterson, Davis , Rajapalisha, Dilum , Schmitz, David ... Tynan, Anna (2020). Retention of the health workforce in rural and remote areas: a systematic review. Human Resources for Health Observer Series No. 25 Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.