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JCU JCU Interview and General Questions


Emeritus Staff
Hello everyone!

This thread is a preparation thread for JCU Interviews and also a place where I'm happy to answer general questions as much as I can. For some background: I'm a PGY2 resident who graduated from JCU in 2016. I spent 3 years in Townsville living at Uni Hall and then moved to Cairns for 4th, 5th and 6th year. Despite the fact that I'm written up as a "Staff Member" I gain absolutely nothing from writing these threads.

Previously I offered a fair bit of subjective information about On-Campus Colleges/Accomodation but I'm not so sure that I'm happy to do this anymore as it's been some time since I lived there and things have changed significantly - I will however be happy to provide some general information if asked.

This thread is built on previous contributions from students who went to the JCU interviews and sent me PM's with their reflections/interview questions/ethical topics - if you send me this I promise I will not distribute anything until this time next year. Without this help the thread will quickly become out of date and useless to everyone.


I am in no way bound by a non-disclosure agreement that I have not signed.

I will never disclose exact details of where questions come from.

In the past I have published questions I was told from applicants, interviewers, admin staff, etc.

I have never published questions from a current interview round until after the round has finished.

This thread will be split up into a number of sections: my personal interview reflection from 2010 (some time ago, I know!), a more recent reflection from 2018, a clear framework of the interview & a list of past JCU questions, general information about the JCU MBBS course (slightly out of date) & some information about rural+indigenous medicine. I will continue to add to it as I write replies or as I come up with more useful information.

My interview reflection was written on the drive back from my actual interview and is from 2010. It is therefore old but remains consistent with all of the interview questions / experiences I have been informed of over the years. The JCU interview has not changed significantly since this time & has retained the same format.


Ben's 2010 Interview Reflection

First of all, everyone at the JCU interview – i.e. staff and medical students that were there to help – were phenomenal. Almost everyone was as excited as I was and they really had a great attitude towards interviewees. The interview panel itself was very engaging, though it seemed to be a response to singular people when it came to questioning. What I mean is, the first two questions were asked by the academic from the uni, whilst the other two panel members completely ignored and avoided any eye contact. They then passed the question over to the next interviewer and the other two avoided eye contact. For me, there was nothing that could be done to engage the other two interviewers that were not asking the question. Saying that though, the interviewer that was asking the questions seemed at all times entirely focused on me and didn’t hesitate to weigh in their opinion on things or ask further questions. It was very much like a legitimate discussion where the interviewers were clearly interested in what I had to say.
My interviewers were an academic from the university or the area, a physiotherapist and a GP who was by far the most engaging.

The JCU interview was very informal compared to other universities (Monash, UNCLE, UNSW etc), I actually tried to stop halfway through my first question to try and get into a more formal mindset but when I asked for a moment to collect myself one of the interviewers just started talking about cricket with me. So here's me, in my mind thinking "God damnit must be more formal, must not be so relaxed, must think about what I say more" and he pipes up, "So do you watch the ashes? We're getting slaughtered, it's terrible" and then the whole panel joined in and we spoke about cricket for about 3 minutes. It was honestly the most confusing situation of my life.

Interview Questions I had:
What is it about you that would make a good medical practitioner?
2. What do you know about the course? I just made mention that it was all integrated, had an emphasis on rural health that was meshed in with the stock-standard medical course. They asked me to clarify what I knew about a normal medical course and whether I knew about placements and what I had to do after I graduated etc.
3. Got passed over to the GP here, who asked me to give him an example of when I’d worked in a team.
4. Thus, he asked me a follow-up question about when teamwork had gone badly for me and how I coped with it.

Scenario 1:
“You are the captain of a successful sporting team that has just won their finals. Everyone in the team works together really really really well. After winning your finals, the whole team goes out for celebratory drinks and at the end of the night, two people get into a car and drive home. The driver crashes the car and suffers minimal injuries, but the passenger and other team-mate is severely injured.

Following the incident, the team ceases to stop working together well and begins to fight over seemingly unrelated or irrelevant issues. The driver of the car is noticeably more distraught and possibly depressed.
As the captain of the team, what do you do?” I spoke to people after the interview and some of them simply got “A team of 4 is not working well together, you are the leader, what do you do?”

6. Next, I got passed onto the Physiotherapist who asked me to describe when I’d been in a new situation and how I’d dealt with it. There wasn’t much clarification as to what they meant by a new situation. Very vague.
7. She then followed that up with how I cope being away from family/independence etc and asked for an example.

Scenario 2:
“You are on a 4 week rural placement as part of your medical degree. You have been on placement for a week and don’t know many people; the doctors in the hospital are not very friendly. Some of the nurses are but you haven’t made any friends yet.

You live in a small flat behind the hospital on your own, you have no car and your mobile phone does not work. After a week of placement you are beginning to feel that you cannot stand the place any longer.
What do you do?” Keep in mind that this is a very, very real situation.. You may well be faced with this exact situation at the end of second year on your 4 week rural placement.

9. I’m sure there was another question, but I have no idea what it was.

We then got onto the debating, which strangely was still a single interviewer on interviewee thing, as opposed to a discussion between me and the three interviewers. I got passed back to the GP again.
My topics: Gay Marriage, a self-abortion case that occurred in Cairns where the couple was acquitted in court, and the mining of coal in Australia to export internationally(somehow related to global warming).
Other debating topics:
Euthanasia, Schoolies, Nuclear power instead of coal, Opt in or Opt out organ donation, Wikileaks and the ethics behind it, drink driving.


Interview Overview
The JCU interview starts with typical medicine interview questions (why do you want to be a Doctor/study medicine/what do you know about the course) then shifting through assessing your experience with rural areas and health, independence & team work through scenario situations and finally debating topics to determine how well you respond to pressure and logical argument strategies.

Potential Interview Questions:
These are a list of questions that either have been asked in the past and/or are very good questions to be able to answer quickly & with a good structure. They may not be the exact interview questions but certainly cover the basis of JCU's interview.

General Questions:
-Why do you want to be a doctor?
-Why do you want to study at a uni with rural health as the main focus?
-Why do you want to study at JCU?
-What activities have you done to show your motivation to study med here?
-What qualities should a good doctor have?
-What are the most important of these qualities?
-Give an example of when you worked in a team & what you enjoyed about it?
-Give an example of a conflict in the team & how you worked it out? Did it work & if not, what did you learn from it.
-Have you ever been away from your family & what was hard about it?
-How did you cope with staying away from family?
-How do you think you will cope with the course?
-How did you cope with staying away from family?
-How do you think you will cope with the course?
-This is an integrated course, how do you study & how do you plan to change it in uni?

Questions about your goals:
-How would you describe yourself?
-Tell us a bit about yourself?
-How would a stranger describe you?
-How would your friends describe you?
-What is your purpose in life?
-what things do you value most?
-What qualities do you value in others?

Questions about your achievements/influences:
-What have you learnt from extra-curricular activities.
-What sort of sportsmanship do you have, competitive, giving up, gracious, backing away?
-If you were head of health what would be your priorities & what problems might you encounter?
-What strategies do you use to deal with stress?
-What is your most valued achievement & why?
-What kind of achievements do you take pride in?
- Tell us one event in your life that shaped you?
- What people have influenced you & how.

Questions about self-reflection:
-What are your strengths & weaknesses & when are they most apparent?
-What would you like to improve about yourself & why?
-What do you think you will get out of the medical course?
-If you got into the course What would you change about yourself?
-How do you handle criticism?
-Describe a time that you had to make an important decision & how did you go about it?
-Give a time when you had to make a quick decision based on incomplete information?
-Toughest decision ever?
-Can you tell when you are stressed?
-Is there anything in medicine you think you will have trouble with?
-Describe a difficult time in your life?
-Have you had any disappointments & how did you cope?
-Any failures & how did you cope?
-What is the worst thing that ever happened to you & how did you deal?

Questions about teamwork:
-What qualities do you need to be a good worker & to be a good leader?
-Which role do you usually take in a group?
-Do you like working in a team or alone?
-What would you do if some one was not pulling their weight.
-How do you bring the best out of people in a team situation?

Crow's 2018 entry interview questions:
- What do you know about a career in medicine?
- What about you would make a good doctor?
- If you were about to go on a rural placement, how would you prepare for it? What would you bring with you?
- What have your experiences with teamwork been like? How would you delegate tasks to others in a team? What's something you find difficult about teamwork?
- What is your greatest non-academic achievement and why? What sort of things did you need to do to reach this achievement?
- Have you ever been in a new/unknown situation? How did you deal with / adapt to this?

Scenario question:
- You go to a party at the end of your placement in a remote area and your friend wakes you up during the night, wanting to go home. Both of you are still intoxicated. How would you deal with this situation? What are the issues involved?

Debating topics:
- Child crime from school students caused by neglect from parents/guardians - why do you think neglected children are acting out and how would you deal with this problem?
- The prevalence of mental health issues is increasing in today's Australian youth. Why do you think this is? How would you go about tackling this problem?

Debating topics others were given:
- Gay marriage
- Should vaccinations be legally enforced?


Interview Questions from 2017:

Opening questions:
- What do you know about medicine as a career
- What qualities do you think a doctor needs to have
- How are you suited for a career as a doctor
- Give examples of times you have demonstrated these qualities
- If you had a team of four people what leadership qualities would you want them to demonstrate?
- Why rural medicine in particular
- What do you know about rural medicine
- How would you cope with rural areas / what are the issues with working/living in rural areas & how would you specifically deal with them
- Describe a situation where you encountered difficulty and how you dealt with it
- What do you know about the JCU course
- Where do you want to work in the future? Would you work in a rural area?

You are on rural placement & go to a party with another medical student ~50km away. He drives you & at the party you both have a fair few drinks & decide to sleep it off before placement the next day. In the middle of the night the other medical student wakes you up and tells you he is going to drive home & wants to go now - what are the issues involved in this & what would you do?

You are the chair of a school board and have recently been given money to erect a flag pole by a local community group. On announcing this to the school there is some disagreement about what kind of flag should be flown - Australian / Aboriginal / Torres Strait Islanders. Some people are stating there needs to be an Aboriginal flag for equal representation but others are saying there aren't enough people at the school to justify a Torres Strait flag. How would you approach this situation?

You have been asked to prepare a presentation about Aboriginal customs and traditions for school students at a local high school. What do you think you would need to do in order to prepare for this and present it appropriately?

You are 4th year medical student on a camping trip with 2 friends in remote North Queensland. During the camping trip one of your friends falls ill but there is no local doctor & your other friend wants to continue camping. The only healthcare worker nearby is a small community pharmacy. How do you deal with this situation?

Discussion Topics:
- Growing depression / suicide in teenagers
- Importance of Aboriginal language preservation
- Abuse in children causes higher crime rates
- Refugee crisis in Australia and overseas


Anonymous user's reflection from 2017:
In terms of my interview, I felt that it was actually quite relaxed. Some of the main questions I got asked in my interview was: Why do I want to study rural medicine in particular, how well would I be able to cope up in rural/remote locations, what are some of the personality traits needed to become a doctor, a situation where I overcome a difficulty etc. I can't remember every single question but I knew these ones stood out to me.

I also got some scenarios in the middle of interview. The first scenario I got was that I had to prepare a presentation about Aboriginal customs and traditions for school students at a local high-school. They asked me what I would do to prepare for this presentation. In terms of my answer (if you needed it as well), I just said things around consulting an Aboriginal elder about the content of my presentation to make sure there is no offensive material, consulting a senior teacher at the school to make sure there is no sensitive material which could impact certain students etc.

The second scenario I got was that I was on a camping trip with 2 friends. In the middle, one of my friends fell ill, however there is no GP around (only a pharmacy). The other friend still wants to continue camping -- so what should I do to resolve. I simple said (in a very quick summary), ask my friend what symptoms they are feeling (to gauge whether they feel like they are going to faint or whether they can remain conscious), take them to the pharmacy and consult the pharmacist even though there is no GP, bring them back and compromise with the other friend to come back next week etc.

I also got asked some questions about the future speciality I was thinking of pursuing.

The final debating scenario I answered was about refugees, and whether they should be allowed into the country and given employment opportunities etc. However, another scenario that was given was whether Aboriginal languages should be included as a compulsory part of the school syllabus. Furthermore, whilst this wasn't my scenario, another friend told me that one of their scenarios was about the participation of women in sport and whether that should be encouraged etc.


Alexlipton's REFLECTION FROM 2018
*Disclaimer: this is of course only my experience of the JCU application from a non-rural interstate school-leaver perspective and I'd imagine some people may have different thoughts/experiences on the matters, so just keep that in mind whilst reading.

The Written Application
As it's often stressed, the written application is EXTREMELY important if you're serious about getting into JCU. Not only does it determine the 700-900 applicants they wish to take to interview from the estimated pool of 2-3000 applicants that are competing alongside you for a spot, but it can be a deciding factor in determining who to give offers to AFTER interviews are completed (see my discussion on this further down). I'd recommend starting on drafting the JCU application as soon as you can (I started mine after getting my slightly depressing UMAT score which left me about a month to do it) so you can give yourself the best chance right from the start. Get it proofread by other people and (critically) make sure your school careers adviser sends your Predicted Academic Achievement slip via email ASAP - this was difficult for me as I had an incompetent one who 'forgot' despite multiple reminders. I was lucky enough to get sent a follow up email from JCU admissions stating they had not received it which I forwarded to my careers adviser who then finally sent it. Keep on top of this as well!

One of the critical things I can say about the written component is honesty. Ben has really emphasized this in his blessed post, but I can't stress how important this is when writing it. You have to put things into perspective that JCU admissions has to sort through thousands of written applications from across Australia and beyond to determine who they want to interview and the only way to make yourself stand out during the short time they have with your piece of paper is to, well - write something that stands out. I specifically forced myself to throw personal anecdotes in to every question response that gave my answers to the typical questions like "Why do you want to be a doctor" seem original and more authentically human rather than the somewhat robotic "cause' I want to help people" which we so often hear. Many people think it'd be good to lie in the application, and whilst that may sound good initially I would strongly advise against it as the second an admissions person begins to suspect that your 2 year volunteering program with disadvantaged minorities in the slums of South Africa is a bit too far fetched then that's going to negatively affect your chances of being selected and even if you do get an interview how embarrassing would it be if you tried to fumble your way out of answering a question regarding it? All I can say is - I was honest and curt and it worked for me. Use examples from school, sport, hobbies, etc. that provide substance to your answers and you'll be set.

And that leads me onto; the other thing to keep in mind is the focus on rural/indigenous/tropical health that JCU instills. Many people seem to think you have to do tonnes of work experience in isolated areas or go on exchange in Somali for 6 months to give you that 'competitive edge'. Whilst this may look good, it doesn't guarantee you a place (or interview at all for that matter) if you don't link it directly to answering the question in an informed, logical way. I personally haven't had much exposure to these issues and I was honest about it - spoke about how I grew up in a very metropolitan area which meant I was quite isolated from these issues but how I was quite interested in learning about some of the issues from my little vignettes of experiences through things like school research projects, NAIDOC week, etc. I personally didn't do much work experience at all - in fact I 'only' mentioned how I spent a week in my local GP practice but I managed to go into a bit more depth as to what I learnt from that experience and why that inspired me to pursue Medicine. I personally believe being honest really lifts your application up from the pile, so to speak.

The Interview
Congrats - you're half way there! This is where the fun begins. My advice for the interviews is to seriously not over-prepare. You want your answers to feel fresh, natural and definitely not present a hint of scripting. Being perfectly honest I didn't like when people said "yeah you shouldn't need to prepare at all for an interview, you can't prepare for the questions at all so it's a waste of time" and from sitting in the interview in 2018 I have to fervently disagree. But it's about preparing smart. Firstly the only resource you'll ever need if you go down the path of 'preparing' is reading over the past questions on Ben's post because the questions on there I can attest to were almost IDENTICAL to the ones I was actually asked in the interview (see below for actual questions).

So here's my experience and how I 'prepared' for the interview. From about two weeks out before the interview I began to look at Ben's MSO post with all the past questions from past student experiences and in my brain started to formulate responses to them based on my own school activities/things I've written in my application. A key point to note (as again Ben has mentioned) is that the interviewers won't have read your application so if you had a killer application with great anecdotes there is no reason why you shouldn't re-use them if the question begs it. In fact, most of my anecdotes were essentially re-phrased lines from my written application. During this time I started to look back at some notable moments in my life that linked to showing resilience in tough teamwork scenarios, ability to respond well under pressure, etc.

At about a week out I had developed a fairly extensive 'mind-bank' of anecdotes from school and wider extra-curricular activities (and some purely personal ones) that I loosely aligned under certain categories of questioning. I would then take the dog for a walk and actually start verbalising my responses to my self - yeah I know I sound like a sociopath but trust me; actually saying the lines out loud in response to possible questions I found to be immensely helpful as I could identify points where I was too wordy, sounded weird or didn't relate to the question. It also developed my confidence in going into the interview knowing I had some fallback examples to go to if I was lucky enough to be asked such questions. The key thing to note here is I didn't memorise responses - I just had a bank of anecdotes I knew which I tried to put until a mental bracket of questions. I would say this is a far more effective way of preparing as from my experience it gave me much more freedom to DIRECTLY and succinctly answer the specific questions the interviewer's asked.

And so here's my actual interview day experience. Showtime, baby. I caught a taxi from my accommodation in Townsville to the uni in painful 41C heat after failing to get on a bus in the morning for my 11am interview. From my experience, whilst you may save some money by catching a bus the added stress of worrying about missing your interview time is not worth it and I'd recommend just calling a cab. If I can remember correctly I arrived about 15 minutes before my allocated time. After going to the designated area from the email with the interview details I was checked off on a list by a security guard guy and then sent to wait in a building with small rooms comprised of parents and other students waiting to be called for the interview time. The nerves in those rooms were palpable. I wasn't in the mood for making new friends so I just slowly sipped from my water bottle and awaiting my impending doom. I was called about 5 mins before my scheduled time to walk up a set of stairs which lead to a lobby where our names where checked by our IDs and we had to sign off that we didn't know our interviewers. All the people who were being interviewed at the same time as me then were ushered into a medium-ish conference room where we sat in a square and older Med students attempted ice-breakers to calm the nerves. It was nice. Then we were called 1 by 1 and met our interviewers in a small room. I had 3 elderly interviewers who said their names, shook my hand and then we plunged right into it. From memory, here's what they asked and briefly, how I think I answered;

"Why do you want to study Medicine?"
  • Spoke about personal inspiration of what lead my down the path and elaborated on my interest in certain Medical philosophies and how that has impacted me (honestly this was a really personal response to me so I'm not going to go into much more depth even though I'm anonymous as someone may be able to find out it's me if I did)
  • This is the question you can almost expect to get, so why not prepare something original. If you say "I want to help people" and then say 'next question' you may as well walk outside of the room right then and there because I'm telling you that is way too bland.
"Do you know much about what the JCU course entails?"
  • Spoke about the integrated course, emphasis on tropic/rural/indigenous health, highest number of clinical placements of Aus med program, etc.
  • Was rather brief in this, but they smiled and seemed to like what I said even though I didn't go into too much depth
  • used a couple of examples from school about why I was interested in the Indigenous components to the course
"Give us an example of when you worked in a team."
  • Hmm... aren't these questions starting to sound - familiar? Yep. I remember thinking - what the hell these questions are literally the same as what was in the Ben's post.
  • I applied one of my anecdotes from my aforementioned mind-bank and it fitted perfectly. It also set up the following question they asked;
"Give us an example of a situation where an issue arose in a team and how you responded."
  • Used the same scenario (I think it was theatresports - school drama activity) but elaborated on how I solved the issue through mediation, hearing both parties to resolve problems, etc.
"What qualities do you have that would make you a good doctor?"
  • I primarily focused on empathy with this one and linked it back to my personal anecdote that I mentioned I won't be going into much detail above --> basically spoke about how through my certain negative health-related experiences I could relate to many of the feelings of isolation and so on that many patients feel (in the most intentionally vague of terms)
  • also briefly touched on ability to find strengths in people and understand/accommodate people's weaknesses
These were all the 'intro' questions, then we approached the two scenario questions where things started to get a bit more interesting.

"Scenario: You are in charge of organising Australia day celebrations in local regional town with a significant Indigenous community. How would you go about preparing for the event?"
  • Again, I was very happy when they asked this question as it is listed in Ben's wonderful post and should again be expected.
  • I spoke about some of the issues regarding the date of Australia day and the cultural sensitivities from that; ie. invasion day - but tried to play the middle road and try and contact Indigenous elders to speak about appropriate measures of celebration
  • mainly took the line of appropriate involvement by the Indigenous community in decision making
"Scenario: You have no phone reception and your car is stuck in the middle of no-where alongside a remote road with road-trains going by. What do you do?"
  • Found question disorienting initially, as it was quite open-ended --> definitely stumbled on this a while which probably didn't look to good
  • Had to clarify with the interviewer what 'road-trains' were (lol please don't judge) but after that I kinda got on a roll with saying stuff like attempting to locate yourself using non-electronic means; ie. map, road-signs, wait for road-train to come by and attempt to 'hitch a ride' to contact response services
  • Linked this to my Scout-anecdote which worked well I think
"Scenario: you are on a four-week rural placement and you are the only person you know in a rural town. How do you cope?"
  • I might have smiled when this question hit me. Luckily my Mum asked me that question the night before as I was doing last minute preparations and so I just spat out stuff about joining a sport, going to local pub, etc. and in general getting involved in the community
And then finally we came to the discussion topic with a choice from three issues.

"Discussion topics: how should we respond to the young children with diabetes epidemic, regulation of poker machines or libertarian view of gaming/gambling, why should we care for our aging population."
  • Certainly different to what I anticipated. There was no Euthanasia/Abortion question unfortunately but luckily I adapted and picked the gambling question.
  • Spoke about how a libertarian free-market view of unregulated gambling pursuits can act to further deepen social inequality as lower-socioeconomic individuals statistically have a much higher propensity of falling into the trap of routine gambling - it often manifests into a mental illness as the lack of education with regard to gambling risk leads to warped worldviews of winning potential --> without regulation gambling companies would further try to lure everyday people into betting their life savings with no return of investment and use deceptive practices to promote the gamblers fallacy that "they will eventually win back their money"
  • went on to say that regulation is not ideal but is required, and has worked on advertising on cigarette packets for example
  • was fairly satisfied with my on-the-spot response for this one considering I had done no preparation at all for this
All in all, here's my general tips for all aspects of the application looking back in retrospect;
  • It’s okay to ask for clarification/repeat a question; this shows you are able to process/understand the question fully before answering - I did this with the clarification of a ‘road train’ → being an insular 'metrohead' I hadn’t heard of this term and needed someone to explain it for me before I could answer the question
  • Share eye contact amongst interviewers; it makes everyone feel included in the conversation and shows your effective communication skills
    Don’t feel pressured to blabber on; if you feel like you’ve adequately answered the question and don’t have anything else to add just briefly summarise your point and wait for the next question (or follow up question)
  • Your interviewers could be very different from what you expect; for me this was the most difficult thing about the interview; in that they were VERY different to what I expected. I got three elderly interviewers and all appeared to be going directly off the script they were obviously given. Whilst this meant the questions were fairly expected (as I mentioned above) it was odd as they did not seem to stray AT ALL from the set questions; which from speaking to some of the other applicants was different as I know many had to participate in a kind of mock debate with the discussion question/s. I didn’t have anything of the sort - I was just to pick a discussion topic to talk about to which I answered in one vomit and then the interview was over. All other questions were the same. This was initially disorienting as I kind of expected them to retort some of my statements and I felt almost like I had to say more but you have to prepare for the fact that different interviewers have different interviewing styles and you must adapt accordingly. Mine were also gloomy and didn't show emotion, meaning it was awkward when I tried making a joke - either my joke was bad (unlikely) or they were trained to apathy to make it very difficult for me to judge how they viewed my answers or be swayed by my level 100 charisma.
  • I know this is difficult, but try and enjoy the interview - after the first couple questions the nerves started to subside as adrenaline kicked in and woke me from my 4 hours of sleep the night before (yes insomniacs I feel your pain) and I entered a kind of 'zen state' of answering questions that I can't really describe - if you're being honest with yourself the answers should come easy enough and it doesn't really matter how you deliver as long as you can be heard. I naturally speak fast, so I tried to slow down but this meant I was a bit jittery in my delivery, but honestly don't worry about this - the interviewers know everyone is nervous and if you say something silly or mumble a bit they won't be actively taking marks off. It's about the quality of what you're saying.
  • After the interview don’t take the self-evaluations of others seriously at all. I was on a flight back to Sydney in the afternoon of my interview and behind me I had a girl who had obviously been interviewed that day who I could hear in piercing detail chatting with her family about how amazing her interviews were and that she answered the questions perfectly that the interviewers basically hinted at her offer. Then, a couple of days later one of my friends messaged me about he absolutely nailed his interview - told me how it went for 40 mins and all the questions were perfected and that he had already booked accommodation as he felt great about it. This made me feel quite down at the time as I was uncertain as to how I went, especially as my interview was on the shorter side; 25-30 mins. Turns out I got an offer and my friend sadly didn’t. Not sure about the girl in the seat behind me, but I haven’t seen her face on the FaceBook group chat yet so.... goes to show that your own perception of interview performance is flawed and shouldn’t be relied on at all - after the interview just relax and put it out of your mind while you enjoy the short time you have left of the end of Yr 12 holidays.
  • I'd argue the interview is the MOST important part of your application (aside from the written component) so obviously don’t underestimate it’s value. I was a non-rural interstate student with an ATAR of 98.35. From my position I was already unlikely to receive an offer as I knew that there were rural students with 99 ATARs struggling to get offers.
All in all, I hope this helps in one way or another and if you've read the whole thing top to bottom I applaud you on your dedication, my fine, enigmatic internet friend. Feel free to PM me or reply here for more questions, to which I'll try and get back to you.
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General Course Information
So your normal uni times are 1st semester from late Feb-June, June-July off, 2nd semester late July-November, November-Feb off for 1st year. The course has changed somewhat re: subjects taught in the first three years and I'm not 100% sure on what they are anymore - the following link is from our Medical Student Society and outlines the course for years 1-6. They are somewhat out of date as JCU has changed things this year, the link is here: http://jcumsa.org.au/index.php/course-overview/

Placement Overview:
1st year - you have a 2 week placement wherever you like (I recommend an ED if you can find a doctor who will take you) and also a week long GP placement. These must be done in your holidays at some point.
2nd year - you have a 4 week rural placement either organised by the medical school or by yourself, again this is during your holidays
3rd year - you have a 2 week intensive care/emergency department placement organised by the school either in Cairns, Townsville or Darwin (I recommend Darwin). Again this is during your holidays.
4th year - Everything changes. You start 25th Jan and finish in late June, start again in early July and finish in early December. Your rotations are 8 weeks long and are 8 weeks rural, then 8 in public hospitals, 8 in private and 8 at the uni for clinical intensive stuff. There are 1 week breaks between each rotation.
5th year - You finished in December last year, you now start in early January (you have 4 weeks off) and your terms are now 6x2 (12) weeks long instead of 8. You are now with a single team for each of those rotations (general med, surg, GP and a random one) Again you get 1 week off inbetween terms. You finish in early december.
6th year - repeat 5th year but without exams and with a 8 week elective placement and 8 weeks of rural.

Rural and Indigenous Medicine:
This is undoubtedbly an enormous focus for JCU and is something that you will learn to live and breathe over the years. It will come up in almost every single clinical lecture you ever have. As a couple things you can read, maybe try these (slightly out of date but the concepts are the same, will update!)


The summary of this: http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=6442459831

Though this is likely the best one to read: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/nhhrc/publishing.nsf/content/16f7a93d8f578db4ca2574d7001830e9/$file/primary health care in rural and remote australia - achieving equity of access and outcomes through national reform (j humph.pdf

If you’re only going to read one of those make it the last one, basically the issues that you need to think about though is that: in rural areas it is harder to actually get to people (further away from everything); the majority of people in rural areas have a different, occupational view of health such that it's unlikely they'll see a doctor or a dentist unless they absolutely have to/it stops them from working; confidentiality is a huge problem since in most rural towns its very hard to go to a doctor/healthcare worker without knowing the receptionist or other people there first hand; there's further problems in that rural towns and their populations are generally poorer/have a lower socioeconomic status along with a lower level of education which all lead to poorer health decisions.. couple all of that with much greater rates of smoking, alcohol, tobacco and mental health problems and you've got the average rural town with significantly lower health outcomes. At this point I haven't even begun to talk about the challenges of Indigenous health or trying to tackle the idea of tropical diseases that outright aren't a problem in places like Brisbane or Sydney. Rural and tropical health is a whole different game and it's hard to get a handle on just how different it is until you see both sides.

That's it for the moment - I'll add more as I go on.
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In terms of the integrated aspect of JCU Med, did you find it to be a steep change from school-based learning? I personally prefer a mixture of practical and theoretical learning as I find it easier to relate principles from the clinical perspective to a theoretical perspective and vice versa. Is the program integrated so that the clinical and theoretical aspects are separate or do they link with eachother?

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In terms of the integrated aspect of JCU Med, did you find it to be a steep change from school-based learning? I personally prefer a mixture of practical and theoretical learning as I find it easier to relate principles from the clinical perspective to a theoretical perspective and vice versa. Is the program integrated so that the clinical and theoretical aspects are separate or do they link with eachother?
Its a university level course and in that sense there is always going to be a relatively steep and drastic change from high school.

I recommend you read the outlines that I linked through our Medical Student Association

A general overview of how the course runs in the first pre-clinical years (before you spend all your time at the hospital) is as follows: you have 4 subjects per term & each of these subjects has an introductory lecture + guided learning session (GLS/tute) + synthesis session every week. The intro lecture and synthesis lecture are 50 minutes long while the GLS is typically 3-4 hours. As an addition to this there are typically 1-2 "Integrative Sessions" a week + "home-group" meetings which are 1-2hr/week + clinical skills sessions that are about 2-3hrs every 2-3 weeks.

The resulting first year workload is about 25-30 hours of active lectures/tutorials a week. This doesn't seem like much but it is drastically different from high school learning - lectures are quick to move from topic to topic/aim only to outline the material needed to study & the GLS/tutorials typically take the entire 3 hours to complete most of the workbooks.

Often the lecturers/other students will give an initial "study guide" lecture and will bandy around the idea of studying an hour outside of class for every hour you spend in class. I found this to be entirely untrue even throughout clinical years but others have lived by it.

To answer your question about integration of the subjects - the first semester is difficult to integrate as it's hard for new students to understand the importance of the topics they are studying (they have no context) and the first semester is mostly spent getting everyone on the same page re: biology + organic chemistry + general workings of the human body. From second semester onwards however the subjects quickly move into studying organ systems and these are inherently a decent mix of practical + theoretical knowledge. Typically JCU spends 2-3 weeks teaching the anatomy of the organ system with hands-on anatomy practicals/human prosections and then moves onto systematically working through the physiology, again typically with a mix of textbook learning + practical things to demonstrate concepts.

Throughout this there are clinical skills sessions and home-group sessions which aim at teaching examination of specific systems and working through case learning/going over the weeks topics.

Anonymous PM said:
I was wondering whether you can kindly tell me how long we should take to answer the questions? Like should we spend about 2 min on each 'general' question, 3 min on the scenarios and about 6 min for the debate questions? Is it ok if we go over the time a bit? Also, how many of the types of questions are there and how long is the whole interview?
I think the most important thing to have is a few scenarios that you can talk about in depth which correspond to the questions above - anecdotes is the correct word for it. Often you can cover multiple questions with a single experience. I say this because my experience is that the interviews are semi-structured; there are initial questions that the interviews have to ask and then following this they can ask anything they want.

Don't be concerned about the timing yourself, this is not something that you need to manage - the interviewers will manage this. What is important is that you're well spoken and you can answer their questions calmly and with some reasonable idea about where you're going with your answer. I can't give you a solid answer re: time for each question as I don't know - the interviews tend to go for anywhere from 30 minutes - 1 hr.

Anonymous PM said:
I was wondering if for the ethical debate question the interviewers give you a sheet of paper with the three questions, or if they just read out the questions individually?
The interviewers read the three potential topics out to you and often will begin with a phrase similar to: "What do you think about _____?" or "How do you feel about _____?". I think it's important to remember they don't expect you to reinvent the wheel or have some brilliant answer that solves the problem the topic poses but rather that you are able to recognise the themes/underlying ideas that make up the topic and then present your own opinion on it. It's initially less of a debate and more of a discussion about the topic re: your thoughts and ideas, and then evolves into a debate.

There are a few topics where you would probably do poorly if you went against them (think: Gay Marriage/rights, sexual harassment in the workplace etc.) and for the most part JCU tends to have young-ish interviewers or "foward-thinking" interviewers - i.e. as a university and as academics the interview panel tends to have and tends to expect a "Left Wing" view. This attitude is quite representative of the dominant vocal groups in my cohort and in those above and below my year.
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Emeritus Staff
Further follow-up questions:

Anonymous PM said:
Sorry again but do you also think wearing tie is too 'fancy' for the interview (cause I've heard it's rather hot in townsville)?
I definitely recommend against wearing a tie in Townsville - the average temperature during interviews is about 30-35 degrees and incredibly humid. My suggestion for males is that they wear comfortable slacks and a button-up long sleeve shirt with rolled up sleeves. I have no way of describing what the clothes that females wear are - formal and conservative are the words thrown around but this doesn't really say much.

Anonymous PM said:
Would you also please state the best parts of the jcu course and also challenges that you've faced in your study there (esp for an interstate)? That will really allow me to have a better idea of how the course is going to be like.
To answer this I really need to split my answer into two parts - preclinical & clinical years. For preclinical years my favourite parts were that it was such a social experience, I lived on college and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a social university life. In terms of the course the best parts for me were that the majority of topics we studied were clearly relevant to the end-goal of the degree and that the course very quickly went from being basic sciences to having clinical application. The majority of tutorials are staffed by students in older years who are able to easily give context to the material. It's also clear from the start that JCU wants you to succeed as medical practitioners in the future and that all the activities beyond standard lectures/tutorials are aimed at getting you there.

For clinical years the best part is easily how quickly you are involved in teams that not only want you there but in many cases rely on medical students to fill specific roles and help the team function. Fourth year is mostly spent getting a general idea of what the different settings within and outside the hospital are like while 5th and 6th year are spent assigned to specific consultant teams for 6-8 weeks at a time. Again, it's hard to describe without providing a full context.


Will you be significantly disadvantaged if you have no rural experience (I'm from metropolitan Sydney)? How should I answer questions that directly address personal rural/remote experience?


Emeritus Staff
Will you be significantly disadvantaged if you have no rural experience (I'm from metropolitan Sydney)? How should I answer questions that directly address personal rural/remote experience?
Sorry about the late reply!

The only actual advice I can give you re: how to answer questions is to answer them honestly. If you don't have any rural/remote/Indigenous exprience then tell them that. In saying that, I definitely wouldn't leave the answer there and expect to get an offer - if you don't have any rural experience then you probably should do a few hours research at least to get an idea of what rural means beyond "not being in a capital city". I have mentioned a few resources above that are helpful for getting an idea of this and have given a super brief summary of what JCU espouses rural health to involve but these will only get you so far.

I feel that if you can answer their questions with some reasonable logic and provide clear, thought-out answers about rural life then you're not going to be disadvantaged. I actually couldn't answer the rural questions very well in my interview "How would you cope with the rural aspects of this course?" (remembered the last question!) because I'd only lived in rural areas my entire life and didn't really know how to explain things as I had no comparative argument. I ended up talking about how I'd lived there all along and hadn't found it an issue so far - a fairly poor answer.

Keep in mind that the interviewers know nothing about you when you come in - they have not read your application, do not know where you've come from and won't know anything you don't tell them outright. In this sense the person from a metro area who can answer the rural questions better than someone with rural experience is going to be better off.

Caveat: rurality is one of the admission criteria and people from rural areas are going to be higher preference than non-rural people.

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Hey thanks for writing this thread, even though I didn't end up reading it until after my interview, because I was in Sydney with a UNSW when it was first published and too busy to check MSO.

It's basically spot on from my experience with the interview, and what I was expecting from talking to other JCU med students. although the debatable topics were different. I had [removed debating topics until after interviews are over], and a few others which I can't remember. I also don't think there was so much debate about the topic among me and the panel, as they moreso asked me to identify potential problems with the topic and how you'd have to address those problems. I hope this isn't a bad thing, as they didn't really ever say much to oppose my view, although they did keep asking questions to get me to express it further.

Also when I asked before the interview, they said they were interviewing 700 applicants, which surprised me as I though it was a smaller number (around 400) for previous years. Could you tell me if 700 is about normal, or has their being a large increase this year?

Also they said that if you did interview well and you achieved the required academic results, they'd call you before Christmas (after OPs are released though) to offer you a place and confirm well before QTAC sends a formal offer. Could you give me a rough idea of this date, and do you remember when they called you? Just want to make sure I have a better idea of when it is so I don't spend days stressing and waiting for a phone call before they actually start making them.

Edited by Ben: Removed debating topics and other specific information, I will replace them after interviews are over.
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Emeritus Staff
It's basically spot on from my experience with the interview ... I also don't think there was so much debate about the topic among me and the panel, as they moreso asked me to identify potential problems with the topic and how you'd have to address those problems. I hope this isn't a bad thing, as they didn't really ever say much to oppose my view, although they did keep asking questions to get me to express it further.
Glad to hear it's still a relevant thread & sorry you didn't find it earlier - I didn't have time to put it up until after my final exams.
Also when I asked before the interview, they said they were interviewing 700 applicants, which surprised me as I though it was a smaller number (around 400) for previous years. Could you tell me if 700 is about normal, or has their being a large increase this year?
700 is about how many first round interviews have been offered for the last few years. JCU gets thousands of applications because of the lack of UMAT requirements. For 2015 they have 2,920 total applications for JCU MBBS with 1,957 of them being first preference applications via QTAC. This data is available here: http://www.qtac.edu.au/ArticleDocuments/196/All_Tables_Semester_1_2015.xlsx.aspx under Table 3B / JCU Continued / Health / Medical Studies / Bachelor of Medicine & Surgery

There were a total of 213 offers with 169 acceptances last year and the remainder of the ~200 cohort total made up by international students who are offered earlier in the year + deferrals from previous years offers & students repeating first year. I had some specific stats on the percentages that metro/outer regional/rural/remote students make up from a Government report but I seem to have forgotten what the document is called.

I'm unsure how many second round interviews they offer but I think it's around 150 - they offer ~700 over 10 days (70/day) and only have 2 days of second round interviews.

Also they said that if you did interview well and you achieved the required academic results, they'd call you before Christmas (after OPs are released though) to offer you a place and confirm well before QTAC sends a formal offer. Could you give me a rough idea of this date, and do you remember when they called you?
This is correct - usually the Dean of Medicine or the Vice Chancellor makes the calls themselves. I am hesitant to give a strict date because all it does is makes people reading the forum stress out more than they need to and the dates are very fluid. They WILL leave a message and you CAN call them back at which point they'll be happy to talk to you. The phone call is supposed to be a helpful/comforting part of the JCU admissions process & I'm very wary that a lot of people read this thread so am not going to give exact dates. I will say that if they've said they call before Christmas then that's very, very early - in previous years it's typically been early-mid January.

OP results come out on the 19th of December and most other states also come out that week. Keep in mind that they still need to conduct the second round interviews for students with better than predicted results before they can figure out their cut-offs. Second round interviews are held on the 7-8th of January as per this document on Page 2 at the bottom right: https://www.jcu.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0013/122215/jcu_106048.pdf

Here is the thread from 2015 JCU offers and the page when calls were first noted: http://medstudentsonline.com.au/forum/threads/jcu-2015-med-offers.29442/page-2


Reading your last response about the interview/applications statistics at JCU, do you know if people who put JCU Med as first preference will be prioritized over those who put it as second? Does it matter, or increase the likelihood, of an offer being made?

Also, around what time are second interview offers are made? I just received my OP and it was better than my prediction from my school!


Emeritus Staff
Reading your last response about the interview/applications statistics at JCU, do you know if people who put JCU Med as first preference will be prioritized over those who put it as second? Does it matter, or increase the likelihood, of an offer being made?

Also, around what time are second interview offers are made? I just received my OP and it was better than my prediction from my school!
Congrats on the better than expected OP result! I've spent a bit of time trying to figure out when JCU will offer their second round interviews and the only conclusion that I've come to is sometime between the 20th and the 31st of December - in previous years they have sent out an initial e-mail offer round between these dates. As some offers are declined and JCU wants to fill their interview spots there are still a few individual e-mail offers that come out as people decline them - these have occured upto Jan 4th/5th in the past.

In terms of preferencing via QTAC - my understanding is that JCU doesn't have a specific requirement about which preference you place them as. The universities are entirely unaware of what preference you have placed them as until QTAC is released - considering JCU calls and offers places prior to this occuring it's clear that they don't have any weighing re: first preference.

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Emeritus Staff
does anyone know if JCU has sent out 2nd round interview invitations yet?
No, it has not been posted anywhere on the forum and I have not heard anything outside of the forum. It is very likely that someone will post on the forum when the initial second round offers e-mail comes around.


Emeritus Staff
Has anyone received courtesy calls, offering a place in the medicine program at JCU?
As mentioned in the other thread - in all previous years phone call offers of places have never been given out prior to completion of the second round interviews. Typically these phone calls occur only a few days prior to the QTAC offers.

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I had my JCU interview last year, and I got in! Any questions, i'd be more than happy to answer.
Congrats on getting in! What was your ATAR/OP and were you a standard, non-rural applicant? Also, are there many interstate students with a 97-98 atar in your cohort?


Congrats on getting in! What was your ATAR/OP and were you a standard, non-rural applicant? Also, are there many interstate students with a 97-98 atar in your cohort?
My ATAR was 99, and yes, standard, non-rural. And there are, however JCU doesn't look way to much at ATAR from what I gathered. My sister and I both applied the same year and both got interview offers. I got a 99 ATAR, and she got a 99.4 ATAR, but she still didn't get in.


My ATAR was 99, and yes, standard, non-rural. And there are, however JCU doesn't look way to much at ATAR from what I gathered. My sister and I both applied the same year and both got interview offers. I got a 99 ATAR, and she got a 99.4 ATAR, but she still didn't get in.
I should also mention, i'm an interstate student.

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