JCU Professor Ian Wronski talks about the Australia-Canada connection

Do you stand out from the crowd?

James Cook University certainly does, and while it may not be the largest university, or the most well-known, JCU has something the others don’t: their riveted focus on Aboriginal health, rural medicine, public health, tropical medicine and the needs of under-served populations.

JCU Medical School
Prof Wronski, Ms Hurlock, and Chris Nolan at the JCU Medial School interviews in Toronto on June 8.

James Cook University Deputy Vice Chancellor Tropical Health and Medicine Professor Ian Wronski and Associate Faculty Registrar Ms Sandra Hurlock were recently in Canada to meet with students interested in studying medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and other health sciences at JCU.

When speaking with OzTREKK Director and Marketing Manager Chris Nolan, Prof Wronski explained why JCU concentrates on rural, remote and tropical health care.

“JCU was established as Australia’s university for the tropics, and so we focus on programs that are particularly relevant to the tropical world,” Prof Wronski said.

“In the medicine, health, molecular science part of the university—that includes all the health professions and molecular biology and biomedicine, and the research institutes we have—we’ve particularly targeted issues relating to under-served populations, especially rural, remote, indigenous and tropical peoples.”

Tropical peoples? How does that relate to Canada? When speaking about Canada, most people think snow, not tropics.

But the connection between Australia and Canada is stronger than you may think.

In fact, in 2013, JCU Medical School Dean and Head of School Richard Murray travelled to Canada as a member of an Australian government delegation at a Canadian-Australian roundtable on recognition of professional credentials between the two countries.

Dean Murray made a case for why Canada and Australia should collaborate our shared interest in health care innovation to meet the needs of our geographically dispersed populations. Prof Murray said that the opportunities this creates for Australian and Canadian practitioners to gain experience in each other’s countries could only benefit the quality and depth of rural medical services.

“In medicine for rural areas, there are opportunities for movement and exchange for students, doctors in training as well as specialists in rural general practice and other generalist specialties. Innovation in areas such as telemedicine and socially accountable health professional education are shared interests,” Prof Murray wrote in an article he published in the JCU Medical School’s journal, A Taste of our own Medicine.

Prof Wronski said there are many countries in a similar position to Australia, including Canada. Like Australia, our population is concentrated on the fringes of the country, where the climate is most ideal and the land most usable. But where people live in rural and Northern Canada, away from the general population, finding health care can be more challenging—just like the people in remote and tropical locations of Australia.

So what kind of student does James Cook University wish to attract?

When asked why JCU likes Canadian students, Professor Wronski narrowed it down: “Our experience with Canadian students has been almost entirely positive.

“Canada has a good education system, and students come to us well educated and broad-minded. Also, many of them have that fire in their belly to put something toward the health services side of making life better for under-served populations. Canada, like Australia, has large areas, large rural and indigenous populations,” the JCU professor replied.

“We like Canadian students because we see ourselves as a global hub, and we want to attract students who are interested the tropical world and the health of under-served peoples.”

Does this sound like you? If you’re passionate about helping people, particularly those who live in rural or remote areas, JCU wants to talk to you!

JCU Pro-Vice Chancellor Ian Wronski
Professor Ian Wronski of JCU

About Professor Ian Wronski 
Professor Ian Wronski was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia at the Queen’s Birthday Awards on June 9, 2014, and received the award “For distinguished service to tertiary education, particularly through leadership and research roles in Indigenous, rural and remote health, and to medicine in the field of tropical health.”

Over the two decades he has worked at JCU, Ian has led the development of degrees such as medicine, veterinary science, tropical agriculture, dentistry, pharmacy, public health and tropical medicine, the rehabilitation sciences and more recently the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM).

About the JCU Medical School Medical Program

The 6-year, full-time MBBS degree is a comprehensive program with integrated instruction in biomedical sciences, professional practice and clinical medicine. Graduates will be uniquely qualified in the fields of rural, remote and Indigenous health, and tropical medicine.

Program: Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS)
Location: Townsville, Queensland
Semester intake: February
Duration: 6 years
Application deadline: August 31, 2015

About the JCU Dental School Dentistry Program

The Bachelor of Dental Surgery program at James Cook University is a five-year undergraduate degree that provides students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to become competent practitioners of dentistry. It is a broad-based program which includes all aspects of dental practice but also has a special focus on issues of special concern to the northern Australian region, particularly those relating to tropical, rural and Indigenous practice.

Program: Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS)
Location: Cairns, Queensland
Semester intake: February
Duration: 5 years
Application deadline: August 31, 2015

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