Growth of the James Cook University medical program: maintaining quality, continuing the vision, developing postgraduate pathways

Sen Gupta, Tarun, Johnson, Peter, Rasalam, Roy, and Hays, Richard (2018) Growth of the James Cook University medical program: maintaining quality, continuing the vision, developing postgraduate pathways. Medical Teacher, 40 (5). pp. 495-500.

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Background: James Cook University (JCU) enrolled its first cohort of 64 in 2000 into a 6-year undergraduate medical program aimed at producing graduates capable of meeting the needs of North Queensland, Australia, with a focus on rural, remote, Indigenous and tropical health. The school’s 1465 graduates over 13 cohorts who have a pattern of practice likely to meet the region’s health needs. The JCU course was the first new Australian medical program for 25 years. The number of Australian medical schools has since doubled, while enrollments have almost tripled.

Methods: JCU’s course features innovations such as dispersed, community-based education, rurally-focused selection, extended rural placements, and an emphasis on community needs – which are all now mainstream. This paper traces developments at JCU over the past decade, illustrating parallels with the broader Australian scene.

Results: Maintaining quality and educational integrity while numbers grow is challenging. The course has undergone modest curriculum redesign, but the fundamental elements are intact. The focus on meeting the region’s needs remains, with some evolution of its mission to include social accountability and the needs of underserved populations.

Conclusions: Postgraduate pathways are an important priority. Regional training hubs are being developed to support local pipelines into specialty practice. Queensland’s Rural Generalist Pathway provides an incentivised pathway to rural practice while Generalist Medical Training provides a local training pipeline into general practice and rural medicine. As these initiatives mature, communities should benefit as JCU and other Australian programs continue to address local workforce needs.

Item ID: 52726
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1466-187X
Keywords: medical education; medicine; James Cook University
Date Deposited: 16 Mar 2018 02:09
FoR Codes: 39 EDUCATION > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy > 390110 Medicine, nursing and health curriculum and pedagogy @ 80%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420399 Health services and systems not elsewhere classified @ 20%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9299 Other Health > 929999 Health not elsewhere classified @ 50%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9303 Curriculum > 930302 Syllabus and Curriculum Development @ 50%
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