James Cook University trains specialist doctors for regional and remote communities

James Cook University’s ability to train and keep GPs and medical specialists in regional and remote settings has been given a big boost.

As part of the Federal Government’s Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training program $54.4 million has been allocated over 2016–2017 to 2018–19 for new Regional Training Hubs and University Departments of Rural Health.

James Cook University trains specialist doctors for regional and remote communities
Prof Richard Murray (Photo: JCU)
JCU will operate three of the new Regional Training Hubs—in North, Western and Far North Queensland.

Professor Richard Murray, Dean of JCU’s College of Medicine and Dentistry, said the investment will allow JCU to be more involved in training the specialist doctors that regional and remote communities need.

“The number of graduating doctors in Australia has almost tripled over the past 15 years, yet what we have seen is graduates piling up in the cities, looking for city-based specialist training jobs. The regions are still left to rely on importing doctors from overseas. This announcement is a welcome first step towards a system that trains specialist doctors and GPs where they are most needed,” he said.

Professor Murray said it was time for Commonwealth, state and territory governments to commit to a revolution in the further training of medical graduates.

“We need a system that sees much more specialist training based in regional Australia, with a city rotation only as needed,” he said.

Professor Murray said JCU has long been a national leader and advocate of training medical graduates for work in regional Australia.

“This announcement shows that Assistant Minister for Health David Gillespie is listening to the arguments we have been making over the last decade,” he said.

Professor Sabina Knight, Director of JCU’s Mount Isa Centre for Rural & Remote Health, said the funding will enhance rural health.

“We do a lot of work encouraging students to stay and work in rural and remote areas, but if they can’t get an internship in a regional hospital such as Mount Isa, then they have to go to a city for training and often end up disappearing into metropolitan areas,” she said.

Professor Knight said the initiative fills in a crucial gap in the current system.

“This was the missing bit in the pipeline between having early year medical students and turning out medical specialists in a rural or remote area. We will have a better pathway now and a much better ability to follow through on their training,” she said.

Professor Murray welcomed the funding as a valuable first step, but said the program would be even more fruitful if states and territories now came on board with their support.

About the JCU Medical School MBBS Program

The 6-year, full-time MBBS degree at James Cook University 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
Location: Townsville, Queensland
Semester intake: February
Duration: 6 years
Application deadline: August 30, 2017 (Note: early offers of admission may be made to high-achieving international applicants. It is recommended that students apply as early as possible and well before the August 30 deadline.)

As part of the MBBS application process, all candidates must participate in an interview with Prof Ian Wronksi. For the 2018 intake, JCU will hold interviews with eligible international applicants from Canada either
  • in person in Canada this June, or
  • via video-conferencing following the August 30th program application deadline.
In-person interviews in Canada (dates are subject to change)

June 22 – 23, 2017: Toronto
June 24, 2017: Edmonton
June 25 – 26, 2017: Vancouver

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