In 1961, the University College of Townsville was founded in 1970 was established as the James Cook University. At the time of its foundation, JCU already possessed much of the infrastructure required for health sciences education, including tropical medicine, public health, veterinary and biomedical sciences and social sciences. A significant growth in health-related programs followed: the School of Nursing Science in 1989 and the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in 1992. Medicine had its first intake in 2000. By 1999, the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Molecular Sciences offered postgraduate and undergraduate courses in Tropical Medicine, Public Health, Occupational Therapy, Pharmacy, Nursing, Biomedical Science, Sports and Exercise Science, and Medical Laboratory Science. World-class research was being conducted by JCU academics, particularly in the fields of public health and tropical medicine, biomedical science and molecular biology.
In 2005, JCU Physiotherapy enrolled its first intake of students at its Douglas campus in Townsville. A multimillion-dollar building was opened to house the newly established disciplines of Physiotherapy and Speech Pathology along side previously established disciplines of Occupational Therapy and Sport and Exercise Science. This building houses tutorial and practical rooms, offices, video conferencing facilities, a speech pathology clinic and a movement analysis laboratory. In 2014 the disciplines of Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Pathology, Sport and Exercise Science, Nursing and Midwifery, and Psychology formed the College of Healthcare Sciences, within the Division of Tropical Health and Medicine.
The JCU Physiotherapy program has full accreditation with the Australian Physiotherapy Council. This accreditation allows graduates to register as physiotherapists in Australia.
Physiotherapy at JCU has grown from three academic staff members in 2005 to 10 in 2013 as well as a number of clinical educators, sessional staff and adjunct appointments. Applications for physiotherapy at JCU are very competitive with an intake into the program of around 80 students a year.
Students have the opportunity to complete a two year embedded Honours course i.e. it runs concurrently with academic subjects and clinical placements. Students work with staff on topics related to staff and student research interests. Alternatively students are able to undertake a Graduate Honours program over one year as a full-time student or part-time over two years. Graduate Honours is also offered to external students.
Physiotherapy also offers a coursework or combined coursework/research Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma and Master of Rehabilitation (Physiotherapy).This program has been designed to improve knowledge across common areas of physiotherapy practice in a format that suits busy practicing physiotherapists and provides tangible outcomes applicable to the individual’s work environment.