College of Medicine and Dentistry Making Rural Health Matter Making a difference to undeserved communities

Making a difference to undeserved communities

JCU is Australia’s most successful university in producing health professionals who go on to rural and regional careers.

JCU is committed to addressing the shortage of doctors in underserved regions by developing a skilled, fit for purpose health workforce in and for regional, rural and remote Australia.  JCU is focused on providing regional training pathways to fulfilling health careers through:

  • Regionally focused undergraduate programs in medicine, dentistry and pharmacy;
  • General Practice training which is delivered in regional Queensland with a focus on improving the health of underserved communities;
  • Partnering with public and private hospital and health services and GP clinics as part of Northern Queensland Regional Training Hubs, which aims to have an integrated pipeline of medical training across the training continuum that provides a high quality, self-sustaining medical workforce that is responsive to the health needs of northern Queensland.

JCU is the only university in Australia offering unique end-to-end training from undergraduate to postgraduate, which sees doctors train in regional, rural and remote Queensland.

So how is JCU helping improve the health of underserved communities in Australia?

JCU attracts undergraduate students from rural, regional and remote areas, or those who have an interest in working in these regions.  71% of the 2019 medicine cohort is from non-metropolitan areas.

Undergraduate medicine, pharmacy and dentistry JCU students have a positive rural experience throughout their degree, seeing first-hand the implications of the lack of healthcare services in regional, rural and remote communities.

JCU’s medicine, dentistry and pharmacy undergraduate degrees instil a passion for health equality and focus on making an impact in underserved communities. Students explore health issues of concern to these communities.

Students undertake a high number of clinical placements in regional, rural and remote Australia and benefit from a wide breadth of experience where they develop a strong level of clinical skills.  It is these experiences that ensure they are well equipped when they graduate to work in regional, rural and remote communities and beyond.

By selecting students from a regional, rural remote background or who have a passion for working in these regions, and through ensuring students have a positive rural experience, JCU’s graduate doctors, dentists and pharmacists are more likely to stay in or return to regional, rural and remote communities.

In its almost 20 year history, JCU has produced more than 900 doctors who have gone on to work in regional, rural and remote communities. 75% of JCU Medical Graduates between 2005-2016 have worked a year or more in regional rural or remote locations.

JCU is Australia’s only university to offer specialist General Practice training. JCU delivers GP training across 90% of Queensland, serving a population of 1.6 million people and covers a geographic area of 1,627,359 kilometres.

JCU’s GP training has a unique model which enables GP registrars to live, learn and work in rural, regional and remote communities.

The program has achieved remarkable results since it started in 2016, producing more than 400 GPs, of which 79% have remained working in JCU’s GP training region, and 66% have gone on to practise in regional, rural and remote Australia.  The proportion of registrars training in rural and remote regions continues to increase since the beginning of the program (2016). In 2019, there is a 100% retention rate of registrars in south-western Queensland.

In support of JCU’s commitment to closing the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, JCU’s GP training has a number of training posts in numerous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services across the state, where cultural educators and mentors provide additional learning support to the GP registrars.

JCU has partnered with northern Queensland Hospital and Health Services and other health care providers to map specialty training pathways for doctors from intern to registrar in the northern Queensland region. The initiative is known as Northern Queensland Regional Training Hubs (NQRTH) and helps to bolster the specialist workforce for the underserved communities in northern Queensland.

NQRTH’s vision is to improve the health of the region’s rural, regional and remote communities by addressing the shortage of doctors in the region. NQRTH are working to achieve this through building an integrated pipeline of medical training across the training continuum that provides a high quality, self-sustaining medical workforce that is responsive to the health needs of northern Queensland.

JCU is working with communities to address the disparity in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians with a key focus on improving the provision of culturally appropriate clinical practice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Through the right education experience, JCU is ensuring that we deliver health professionals that are well equipped to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to improve the overall health of their communities.

This is being achieved by embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in the curriculum across the disciplines, particularly in its General Practice Training program. JCU GP Training provides a range of training opportunities and resources for registrars to develop a higher level of cultural and clinical competence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. The University is also working to increase the capacity of training posts in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to train registrars and aims to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander registrars and those who want to work in the area of Indigenous health.

JCU also has a focus on recruiting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students into the health disciplines, with tertiary pathways aimed specifically at assisting students from Indigenous backgrounds into health courses.

A key focus of JCU’s research is applied and translational research with impact across health and health services in tropical, Indigenous, rural and underserved communities.

JCU’s research emphasises working ‘in-with-and-for’ communities across northern Australia and the wider tropics. JCU seeks to translate knowledge, strengthen health systems and address health issues that affect the region.

Research covers a diverse range of topics that effect regional, rural, remote and tropical communities including peripheral vascular disease, endocrinology and diabetes, trauma care, health systems strengthening, and Indigenous health.

Find out more about JCU’s research in medicine, dentistry and pharmacy.

JCU: Making Rural Health Matter
With an oversupply of doctors in major cities, we are training a fit-for-purpose regional medical workforce to fill the gap. We believe that, no matter where you are in Australia, everyone deserves a doctor.