Media Release

21/01/2014
JCU seeks GP supervisors
General Practitioners are being urged to host James Cook University medical students for clinical placements to help boost doctor numbers in Far North Queensland.

General Practitioners are being urged to host James Cook University medical students for clinical placements to help boost doctor numbers in Far North Queensland.

Associate Professor in General Practice and Rural Medicine Ronny Gunnarsson said the university’s medical students undertake six terms in their fifth year with five of those hospital-based and one in General Practice.

“The program has been running in Cairns since 2004 and we have found once the students have an opportunity to experience the workings of a General Practice many of them express an interest in pursuing that career,” he said.

“The students who study in Far North Queensland and other rural areas are more likely to stay and work in this area where we have a shortage of GPs.

“Four of the fifth year students - Laura Plant, Benjamin Dickson, Dayal Jayawardena and Abhyuday Mandala - are undertaking placements at the Barrier Reef Medical Centre in Sheridan St this week (January 21-24).

“They will observe the GPs, see patients and then discuss the consultation with the supervising GP as well as spending time with the practice manager and nurse.

“Dr Ian Bennett at the Barrier Reef Medical Centre has hosted students since the inception of the program in Cairns.

“In acknowledgment of their support, and the support of other practices in Cairns, we are presenting signs advising patients of the practices which play an active role as a JCU teaching facility.”

Dr Bennett said it was a pleasure hosting the students and introducing them to the role of GPs.

“We show them how we are the gatekeepers of the health care system with the aim of keeping people well and out of hospital,” he said.

“Our role continues to evolve, for example GPs now need to expand their medical training to include preventative medicine and management of chronic disease like hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and asthma.”

Associate Professor Gunnarsson said currently there were not enough GP supervisors in the Cairns region available to participate in the program.

“In 2004 we had 19 medical students requiring placements and the intake has increased gradually with 62 students in Cairns requiring placements throughout 2014,” he said.

“As well as giving them an introduction to General Practice, the placements improve the clinical skills of the students who report the experience is invaluable for their professional development,” he said.

“The patients also find it a positive experience as the students are able to spend much longer with them talking about their health needs.”

Issued January 21, 2014

Media enquiries: E. linden.woodward@jcu.edu.au T. 07 4042 1007