Delivering doctors to rural and remote Australia: James Cook University

Ruth Stewart, Tarun Sen Gupta, Richard Murray, Peta Ann Teague


Introdução: The James Cook University (JCU) medical program graduates doctors for rural and underserved communities, tropical and indigenous health. Student selection targets rural, regional and Indigenous students; all complete 20 weeks training in rural or remote communities during a 6 year MBBS course. Students value these terms highly. A high rural destination of graduates is demonstrated.

Objetivos: To describe the rural medical program and curriculum at JCU including students’ stories and reflections.

Metodologia ou Descrição da Experiência: The rural placements in the JCU medical program are 4 weeks in 2nd year, 8 weeks in 4th year and 8 weeks in 6th year. Placements are predominantly in northern Queensland, but also in the remote Northern Territory and Western Australia or other parts of rural or remote Australia. As the students progress from 2nd to 4th to 6th year the expectations of their involvement in the health care in the community changes from a largely observational role in 2nd year to full participation as a supervised “rural intern” in 6th year. The learning outcomes in each year reflect students’ increasing expertise rural medicine and knowledge about rural communities.

Resultados: Students consistently value their rural placements amongst the highest in the course. The feedback from rural doctors about the interest and commitment of JCU students is very positive. The JCU medical program was recognised by a 2013 Australian Office of Learning and Teaching Award for widening participation. In a 2012 pilot project industry partners and colleagues rated JCU medical students as ‘well above average’ in their clinical skills and professionalism. JCU graduates are consistently rated by employers as being ‘work-ready’; graduates, in turn, comment on the importance of their rural terms in preparing them for internship.

Conclusão ou Hipóteses: JCU medical program is providing undergraduate students with rural and remote clinical experiences that kindles their interest in and empowers them with the knowledge skills and attributes that enable them to play a role in serving the needs of the underserved populations in rural remote and tropical Australia and abroad.



Education; Placement; Community

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