Featured News Cairns Medicine degree begins

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Wed, 1 Mar 2023

Cairns Medicine degree begins

Med students
Commencing med students (L to R) Chris Messina, Harrison Plasto, Charlotte Reisinger and Sophie Christoffelsz.

James Cook University’s ‘end-to-end’ medical program has begun in Cairns, with 39 new students able for the first time to complete all of their medical training in Cairns.

JCU Vice Chancellor Professor Simon Biggs said before 2023, the first three years of the six-year degree had to be completed outside of Cairns.

“JCU launched Australia’s first regionally-based medical program in 2000 that saw students complete the foundation years of the degree in Townsville, before having the option to move to Cairns or Mackay for their final years of study.

“The expansion to include the full program in Cairns is an important step forward in making medical education available locally, producing a medical workforce for regional, rural and remote communities.”

JCU College of Medicine and Dentistry Dean, Professor Richard Murray said the new program provides access to medical training for students from a diverse range of backgrounds and regions, including applicants who may have previously considered pursuing a medical career unattainable.

“One in three students in our new Cairns cohort is the first in their family to go to university and from a regional, rural or remote area. Around two-thirds of this cohort are coming to us from outside a metropolitan area,” said Professor Murray.

He said selecting students from the regions and then educating and training them in, with and for the communities that need them most as graduates is the basis of JCU’s entire model.

“It’s our strategy, it’s been effective, and it’s backed by national and international evidence,” said Professor Murray.

The new student cohort commenced their first semester at the end of February and have been supported and welcomed by an academic team led by Associate Professor Julie Mudd, senior students and JCU alumni.

Dr Mudd said the course will make the most of the clinical and research expertise at JCU’s Nguma-bada campus in Smithfield, where the first years will be based.

“It’s the same program and the same curriculum that has been so successful in producing a work-ready medical workforce for regional, rural and remote Australia. The only difference is that hopefully over time, our Cairns cohort will develop a distinctive Cairns flavour that will help to reflect the uniqueness of the region!”

The expansion of the JCU Medicine program is providing greater access to medical education and is a win for all of North Queensland and has been enabled by the allocation of 20 Commonwealth Supported Places.

To celebrate the first-year students commencing in the expanded Medicine program in Cairns this year, JCU is holding a welcoming event at its Nguma-bada campus in Smithfield, Cairns today, Wednesday 1st March.

JCU’s Vice Chancellor and President Professor Simon Biggs, Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health Emma McBride and key stakeholders across community, business and government will mark the occasion, together with the new cohort, academic team and some of the first JCU medical graduates from 2005.