Featured News JCU launches full medical course in Cairns

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Tue, 4 Oct 2022

JCU launches full medical course in Cairns

A medical student, supervised by a clinical teacher, checks a patient's blood pressure

James Cook University has announced a major boost for Queensland's Far North, establishing a full medical course in Cairns from next year.

From February 2023, JCU will begin teaching years one to three locally, meaning new medical students will be able to complete the entirety of their six-year medical degree in Cairns.

JCU’s Dean of Medicine and Dentistry Professor Richard Murray said the announcement is exciting news for Cairns and the Far North’s future doctors.

“Cairns and the Far North deserve high-quality local health care, and young people here deserve opportunities to study for rewarding professional careers,” Professor Murray said.

“Scaling up our intake and expanding our offering in Cairns are two important steps in our efforts to build a health workforce that’s passionate about improving the health of our northern regions, and trained to meet the health challenges our communities face.”

JCU currently offers the early years of Medicine in Townsville, with students in later years of the course completing their training at Clinical Schools that are based in Cairns, Townsville and Mackay. Training in small rural and remote communities is also a strong part of the JCU experience.

In February 2023 JCU will welcome the first intake of 40 first-year medical students to its Nguma-bada campus in Smithfield.

“We’ve been working towards this announcement since the federal election campaign, when we received bipartisan support for extra Cairns-based, Commonwealth-supported student places,” Professor Murray said.

“We have secured 20 places for Cairns at this stage, and we believe we have a strong case to secure a share of the additional 80 Commonwealth-supported places that the Federal Government has made available nationally.

“Senator Nita Green and Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch have both been outspoken on the need to expand medical education here, as have many local health professionals and the business community. We thank them for their ongoing support.”

“This initial commitment of additional places by the Australian Government reflects JCU’s standing as Australia’s most successful university when it comes to producing doctors who choose remote, rural and regional medical careers, either as GPs or in other much-needed specialties,” Professor Murray said.

“We believe local access to education is important – particularly for families with limited means, students who are first in their family to attend university and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

“We are extending to Cairns an established, high-quality medical degree, and we’re following our tried and tested formula for producing doctors who want to work where they’re needed most: we select candidates who come from our regions, we educate them here, and during their clinical training they work with and for our communities. We know it works.”

Applications for Medicine closed at midnight on Friday (30 September). Overall, JCU’s total first-preference applications for Medicine have increased from 3,160 last year to 3,323 this year. Of those, 982 prospective students have nominated medicine in Cairns as their first preference.


Media enquiries: Linden Woodward