General Practice & Rural Medicine

The Discipline of General Practice and Rural Medicine (GPRM) is a geographically distributed, multidisciplinary group of academics, clinicians, researchers, educators and administrators whose mission is to promote excellence in generalist primary health care education, research and delivery. We are responsive to the health care needs of underserved populations including Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders and communities in rural, remote and tropical regions. GPRM practitioners deliver comprehensive, high quality care to their communities, which may include providing care in community and hospital settings. Practitioners require an advanced skill set relevant to the needs of the community they serve.

The foundation for this skill set is the core curriculum for the undergraduate medical program at James Cook University (JCU). Graduates continue to build on their foundation skills through rural generalist vocational training outlined in the curriculum statements from the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

Contact Details

Medical 1 (39), Room 029
School of Medicine & Dentistry
James Cook University QLD 4811

Where GPRM fits in the medical program

JCU has a strong rural medical program, being recognised nationally and internationally for its strong evidence base, engagement with the profession, peak bodies and rural communities; and leadership of the discipline. Selection into the School, curriculum, assessment processes and clinical placements all emphasise the School’s focus on rural, remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

All students undertake a minimum of 20 weeks of small rural placements. These include a four week community focused rural rotation in year 2; an eight week rural rotation in year 4 incorporating experience in hospital and community based clinical practice; and an eight week rural internship in final year, which sees students working in rural hospitals as junior members of the health care team taking (supervised) responsibility for patient care. Some students elect to undertake an integrated longitudinal rural placement for 16-20 weeks during their final year. All students also experience and learn in community based general practices during rotations in Year 1 (3 days) and Year 5 (6 weeks). All clinical rotations rely on our strong network of clinical supervisors and are supported by the dispersed administrative and academic team across Northern Australia.

About the GPRM team

Members of the GPRM group hold leadership and advocacy roles both within the School and University and externally with Medicare Locals, Hospital and Health Service Boards, ACRRM, RACGP, General Practice Regional Training Providers, Health Workforce Australia, Office of Rural and Remote Health, within the Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Sector and the Rural Generalist Pathway.

The General Practice and Rural Medicine academic team have significant experience in rural medical education, both in undergraduate and postgraduate settings; and in clinical, educational, health services and workforce related research. We have provided leadership in new models of health service delivery including delegated practice models and task substitution; insight into issues that affect the education and career aspirations of medical graduates in regional centres (given regional location of SMD campuses);advocated for regionally-based health professional education across the training continuum to improve workforce pressures in non-metropolitan areas; and have experience in project management, engagement with stakeholders, and dissemination of findings. We also deliver a suite of flexible, online postgraduate courses in health professional education, rural and remote medicine and primary health care research.

GPRM research topics

The General Practice and Rural Medicine Research Group (previously known as the Rural Health Research Unit) has an interest and focus on the Health of Underserved Populations. This group is part of the developing Anton Breinl Research Centre for Health Systems Strengthening (ABC), a Centre under the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM).

The group is pursuing the following key areas of enquiry related to regional health care issues:

  • Training an appropriate health care workforce for the tropics. This incorporates a range of research into health professional education, socially accountable medical education, vertical integration of training and innovative workforce models (task substitution, delegated practice models and so on).
  • Improving health services in the tropics (designing, implementing and evaluating new models of health service delivery and rural health workforce planning)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, working collaboratively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to address priority health needs
  • Working with communities – participatory approaches to community empowerment and development, incorporating participatory methodologies and elements of research capacity building
  • Clinical health care research in the tropics. A program of clinical research addressing priority health issues in regional communities with a primary care focus. We have a strong North Queensland Practice Based Research Network (NQPBRN) with general practices across the region participating in projects relevant to their practice populations.
All research areas have cross-disciplinary and cross-site involvement, a strong capacity-building element, and focus particularly on the issues as they pertain to rural, remote, Indigenous and tropical populations. Members of our team currently supervise Doctoral level students, Academic GP Registrars, Masters and MBBS Honours students.