Physician Assistant

Bachelor of Health Science (Physician Assistant)

A health science Physician Assistant can provide clinical medical services to patients under the supervision of a medical practitioner.

At JCU, we offer the Bachelor of Health Science (Physician Assistant) degree at the Townsville campus over three years full-time (part-time study also available). Prerequisites for the course are a Certificate IV or higher health-related qualification plus a minimum two years full-time (or equivalent part-time) relevant work experience.

Career Opportunities

The Physician Assistant (PA) profession is hugely popular in the United States with over 120,000 PAs in practice. The PA concept has been adopted by many countries, including Canada, UK, The Netherlands, and South Africa.

The Bachelor of Health Science (Physician Assistant) course provides individuals with previous healthcare experience the knowledge and skills necessary to deliver clinical medical services under the supervision of a doctor or physician.

The interdependent relationship between the PA and their medical supervisor is considered a defining feature of the profession, and distinguishes it from other health care roles. PAs are trained to perform many of the tasks previously done solely by medical practitioners, including history taking, physical examination, diagnosis, and treatment. This course focuses on educating healthcare professionals who will provide medical services within a team based practice model in rural and remote locations in Australia.

Numerous positions have opened up already in Australia, with PAs working in a range of settings in both the private and public healthcare, in a range of settings, ranging from a medical specialty clinic in New South Wales, to public and private surgical practices in South Australia and Queensland, to private and public Emergency Departments in Victoria and Queensland, to general practices in Queensland. There are strong indications that the job market for PAs is about to expand significantly in the not too distant future, with increased interest in the private sector and solid commitments from the public health system.

Course Highlights

The Bachelor of Health Science (Physician Assistant) course utilises existing state of the art classroom and lab facilities, as well as IT based resources.

PA educators are integral members of the academic staff and are responsible for the design and delivery of the curriculum. Common clinical training objectives with that of the medical students allow cross discipline collaboration, teaching, and selection of physician assistant student clinical placements.

This collaborative structure provides opportunities for clinical and didactic interdisciplinary learning amongst the students, thus maximising efficient use of resources and laying the framework for future team-based interaction as healthcare professionals.

To explore the PA profession further, visit:

Course Overview

Designed specifically for individuals with previous healthcare experience, this course is offered using a variety of educational methods including a combination of coursework and clinical exposures.

The first two years of the course are delivered via distance education; however, students are required to attend a number of on-campus residential blocks at the Townsville campus throughout this time.

The final year of this course is a full year of clinical placement (with limited residential blocks) undertaken either full-time (1 year) or on a part-time basis (over 2 years).

Through this option of course delivery it is possible for practitioners to continue in their current work setting while developing new skills.

In addition to topics in rural and remote medicine, the curriculum will include techniques in patient interviewing and record documentation; diagnostic skill development including physical examination, clinical investigation interpretation, and patient management. Topics in adult medicine, health promotion and disease prevention across the age spectrum will also be addressed. Learning to access evidence based medical information and incorporate it as a clinical tool will be a recurrent theme throughout the course.

How to Apply

You must have a minimum of Certificate IV (AQF level 4) health qualification or other qualification as approved by the Dean, College of Medicine and Dentistry, plus a minimum of two years full-time (or equivalent part-time) work experience in a health-related setting.

Applicants are evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Academic performance in Year 12 studies or in subsequent tertiary studies
  • Written component of the application form, and
  • Demonstration at an interview of attributes suited to a career as a Physician Assistant.

Successful applicants require Hepatitis B immunisation, current Queensland First Aid and CPR certificates, plus a Suitability to Work with Children (Blue Card) and an Australian Federal Police check before undertaking placement. It is recommended that these requirements be completed by the end of your first semester/teaching period.

Queensland Health requires all health care worker students be immunised against Hepatitis B prior to their first clinical placement.

Students are required to complete preparations for Professional Experience Placement.

Course pathways

Students are encouraged to undertake the Tertiary Access Course if they have not studied recently and/or want assistance making the transition to higher education studies.

Bridging subjects

Bridging subjects are designed to fill any gaps in your knowledge.

We offer maths and chemistry bridging subjects that can be studied on-campus in Cairns and Townsville.

You may need to enrol in a bridging subject if you have not achieved the grade of ‘Sound Achievement or better’ in Queensland Year 12 maths or chemistry.