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Thu, 1 Jan 2015

JCU's doctors opt for regions

James Cook University medical graduates are increasingly choosing to practise in regional and remote locations, a recent study shows.

JCU's doctors opt for the regions

James Cook University medical graduates are increasingly choosing to practise in regional and remote locations, a recent study shows.

The study, ‘James Cook University MBBS graduate intentions and intern destinations: a comparative study with other Queensland and Australian Medical schools’, has been published in the journal Rural and Remote Health.

The study confirms that doctors trained in a regional location are more likely to choose to practise in regional locations.

Professor Richard Murray, Head of JCU’s School of Medicine and Dentistry, said the results proved what many in the school had known.

“JCU’s School of Medicine encourages applications from students from rural and remote backgrounds, and the data shows graduates are choosing to practise in these locations,” he said.

“JCU’s School of Medicine was established with a mission to address the health needs of rural, remote and tropical Australia through aligning student selection, curriculum and assessment practices to encourage generalist postgraduate careers needed in rural and regional areas.

“This article reports early evidence on the career outcomes of graduates in the first six cohorts from 2005 to 2010, and compares this with available data from other Queensland and Australian medical schools.”

Data was gathered from two sources to allow comparisons of career intentions and intern allocations of graduates from JCU with those from other Australian medical schools.

“An exit survey of JCU graduates provided JCU student data while the Medical Students Outcomes Database provided comparable data for eight other, largely metropolitan, schools.

“At graduation, 88 per cent of JCU medical students intended to practise outside Australian capital cities, compared with 31 per cent of graduates from other medical schools.”

More JCU medical graduates than others planned to work in rural towns or regional centres with a population of less than 100,000 (46 per cent, compared with 16 per cent for the rest of Australia).

Professor Murray said 67 per cent of JCU graduates undertook their internship outside a metropolitan centre, compared with 17 per cent of others.

Medical graduates from JCU are also more likely to prefer general practice as a career, particularly rural medicine, but otherwise had similar preferences to others.

Interest in ‘working in a rural area’ increased over the course duration, from 68 per cent at entry to 76 per cent at graduation.

“While further follow up is needed to track career progression over a longer time, the data so far suggest that the career outcomes of JCU medical graduates are aligned with the workforce needs of the region, and different from those graduating from Australia’s predominantly metropolitan medical schools, as predicted by the program’s design.”

Issued: June 21, 2013

JCU Media contact: Caroline Kaurila – 07 4781 4586