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JCU JCU Medicine: The Unofficial JCU Med Bible (Vol. 2)

Stapedius

JCU MBBS III
Valued Member
Hi there,

So this is it – the unofficial JCU Med bible. I’m not religious, but if @Benjamin’s threads make up the old testament, I guess you can call this the first pages of the new testament. With recent authorisation by MSO’s overlord Crow, I have birthed a new JCU thread which I’ll be updating as I progress through the course in the same way that our JCU MSO emeritus grandfather Benjamin has done. I said a few months ago that I would do a JCU update “in a few weeks”. Well now that I’ve officially finished with my Year 2 exams and have a bit of spare time, I thought I would get onto providing my insight into the JCU course so far, with a focus on the preclin years. I’ll be updating this to include questions which I’ve been asked from a variety of people on MSO and abroad, and my experience of the course as I progress. I might turn this into a bit of a blog if I have the time.

Quick access links to existing threads
Townsville and beyond

Townsville is considered RA3 (regional) and is certainly a change for city kids, but I wouldn't say it's necessarily a "bad" change. I came from metro NSW, so the difference in vibe was noticeable when I first arrived. At times, the lack of decent public transport makes Townsville difficult to navigate without a car, and the lacklustre arts and eating-out scene does mean you lack that kind of fast-paced vibrancy of the city but in a weird way the relaxed setting is actually kind of nice. You get to know your peers better as everyone has come from somewhere else around Australia and certainly if you stay on College you're kind of stuck with people who are all in the same boat as you, not stuck in high-school friendgroup cliques. I've gotten used to it now, and I don't feel at all like I'm missing out on much compared to back home. But maybe that's because I don't go out a lot... :(

Townsville has all the essentials – cinemas, nice eating out areas, shopping centres and the iconic Strand which is a nice place to go and wind down. There is also a JCU city campus which is basically just a set of rooms in the Townsville CBD where you can study. But that’s about it – Townsville doesn't really have anything special and that's okay, because it is really the business district of the North. If you want a bit of “fun”, Cairns has a few extra touristy things. But when you’re spending all your time studying it probably doesn’t matter…

It should be noted that despite its population Townsville is pretty ridiculously spread out. Rather than going up and building skyscrapers, Townsville has spread out horizontally and it actually takes a fairly long time (~40mins) to travel from one side to the other, so once again why transport is something which you need to think about.

Uni life

There’s no denying it – JCU’s Townsville campus is relatively small. You definitely do not get the same kind of vivaciousness of student societies or various big events that you see at other unis such as the larger GO8’s. Events are predominantly done by the JCUSA and despite taking $200 a semester from every student in the SSA fee, I still am not entirely sure of what they have done for me over the past 2 years. But oh well – I’m sure some people utilise the free pancakes on Thursday mornings or whatever… I’ve never gone but I think there might be free music on some nights or something. Unfortunately there aren't many shops on campus, and the once thriving on-campus IGA went bankrupt late last year... so now you have to do your own shopping off site. There is a Juliette's in the library though and a few other coffee shops scattered around. But honestly, that's probably one of my biggest criticisms of the Townsville campus - there's just not enough eating out places on campus. There is a bulk-billing general practice on site which is perfect for students.

The JCU Medical Students’ Association (JCUMSA) is JCU’s typical medical student society that runs probably the most events of any student society at JCU, and gets a fair bit (but not a lot) of funding from various sponsors, including the AMA and Townsville council. It runs MedBall, funds MedRevue, does Clinical Cocktail nights and coordinates mock OSCEs for the students, among other things.

That being said, I think your uni experience is largely what you make it. If you want to start up a club, you have the freedom to do so and the uni will accommodate. I’ve helped out in MedRevue and this is something which has been a huge part of my uni life and a load of fun. For those inclined that way, UniBar is open on Friday nights and a popular congregation of many students.

Accommodation options

You have a few main options when coming to JCU for the first years. (1) Getting your parents to bankroll you and purchase a house up in Townsville if you’re rich, (2) finding a friend or two to rent a share house with or (3) go to one of the colleges.

For those that aren’t really ready to become fully independent by doing a share house, I’d really recommend spending at least 1 year on college. You get to meet a lot of new people and the convenience of not needing to cook is honestly really valuable and means you have plenty of time to just focus on your study without any worry that you might be starving yourself. I would say though that moving off at some point (2nd/3rd year is a good time) is worth it though – if I found the right person at the end of 1st year I would have moved off. I think you do need to learn some independence at some point, and being in your own house is just something much more freeing I feel. You also save a lot of money.

I went with the 3rd option for my first 2 years at JCU, and will therefore be the focus of this section by providing a bit of an overview of the colleges. First of all, med students tend to dominate all the colleges so you’ll definitely make friends with people in med regardless of where you go. In general, John Flynn and Saints are considered the "best" in terms of food, which is probably the biggest selling point for most people (John Flynn probably beats Saints, but only just). However, they are also the most expensive (John Flynn leading the pack except for the Saint’s MacKillop ensuite which is something ridiculous like $500/week). There is a bit of stigma that if you go to John Flynn that you become very cliquey and because it is the most expensive you do get attached to a certain demographic of people, particularly with a very high proportion of med students which isn't always great if you want to wind down with friends outside of med (which is very important in maintaining your sanity). In retrospect I’m glad I didn’t end up at John Flynn as I’ve heard the elitist culture has been so toxic for some people that they’ve actually switched from Flynn to Saints (this happened to one of my friends I met on Saints this year). The other thing with Flynn is you are forced out of your accommodation over break periods, while Saints and Uni hall let you stay there (included in yearly contract).

One real benefit of University Hall is its proximity to the Medical school. It's the closest, beating Saints by about 200m and John Flynn by about 150m. Without a car in Townsville heat, this makes a huge difference and something definitely worth thinking about. Uni Hall was good, but keep in mind one of the main buildings burnt down in early 2019 so some of the new accommodation is different so it will probably have changed slightly. A new company has also taken over so I don’t know if the management is gonna be better or worse. Full disclosure – I moved from Uni Hall (spent 1st year there) to Saints (for 2nd year) for the food. Good decision I think.

George Roberts from what I've heard you should try and avoid. I've heard the food is the worst of all the colleges, and the rooms you get make you feel isolated from other people as you share a kind of mini-flat with three or four other people, and if you get the wrong people to live with it can be really dull and unexciting. This is in contrast to the dormitory style of Uni Hall and Saints for example where your rooms are all lined up next to each other and it's a bit more sociable.

If you want to rank it in raw numbers, I would go;

John Flynn / Saints > University Hall > George Roberts.

I didn’t include International Rotary House because it’s non-catered accommodation. Also, for the cost – you’re better off getting a whole share house for about the same price if you find another person to share with. However, that being said – I’ve never been to RH nor have I really spoken to anyone that’s gone there. So, I reserve too much judgement there.

The actual dormitory rooms are generally fine across the board, although the heat is the biggest shock to the system. Townsville during summer is horrendous, and you need to prepare to sweat and rely on air conditioning. Be warned if you decide to get a non air-conditioned room – you will be relying on your sweat to cool you down during the warm nights. Welcome to the tropics. You get used to it pretty quick.

The Course Experience so far

Pre-clinical Years

Year 1 (MD1010/MD1020)
Year 1 is all about getting everyone up to date on the basic sciences so honestly it’s extremely dry, slow and barely even “real Medicine”. It’s structured to encourage experimentation to try different learning styles so you can find the right style for the unique styles of individuals. As I've said to people on here over and over before, first year med is definitely manageable if you keep up to date on study. The content itself isn't hard per se, it's just a lot of work and it may take a few months to get a handle on what study techniques work for you. I think though that if you do have a study regime that has worked well for you at high school, you will perform fine at Med school. And remember, at med school grades beyond a pass do not matter in any real material way, so you shouldn't feel pressured to aim for HDs. The college is pretty open about the anxiety everyone has with first year, but you'll soon find out as long as you actually can motivate yourself to actually study and learn the content you'll perform fine.

As for units, you'll do in first semester 'Cells to Life' (CTL) which is your biology subject to just set you up for the basic stuff on cells so you can get ready for histology and essential tissue types. Then you will do 'Molecules to Cells' (MTC) which is your really watered-down chemistry subject which most people struggle with. Most people get scared with the first lecture when they are thrown a lot of hard chemistry questions, but you'll find that the lecturer makes it very clear what's going to be assessed in the exams (a lot less than it seems) which makes it manageable. You will also do 'Endocrinology' (ENDO) which most students enjoy the most; looking at all the hormones and their interactions within the body. 'Ecology of Health 1' (EH1) is the last subject you’ll do in sem 1 which looks at the Australian health care system as well as gets you to look at some basic epidemiology and statistics. Second semester you move onto 'Reproduction' (REPRO) which is all about sexual development and reproductive physiology. You'll also do 'Genetics and Health' (G&H) which is your typical genetics module, drawing from Yr11/12 biology as well as some stuff on diseases. Then you will also do 'Ecology of Health 2' (EH2) which goes into some more stuff on sociology and Australian health issues, particularly Indigenous and Tropical Health. If you want to read a bit more, I'd recommend reading the first year handbook available on the JCUMSA student website; JCUMSA Handbook – JCUMSA which gives you a general overview of the course.

Year 2 (MD2011/MD2012)
Year 2 is where you start to feel like you’re actually studying Medicine. While it's more work than year 1, the work is more interesting which definitely helps with study. You kick of semester 1 with ‘Cardiovascular Medicine’ (CVM) which is self-explanatory – you learn all about the heart, the circulatory system and ECG interpretations. You also do ‘Haematology and Renal Medicine’ (HRM) which gives you an intro to the various components of blood, the god-forsaken coagulation cascades and some clinical conditions such as Megaloblastic anaemia and leukemia. You’ll find week 4 (unless they change it for future years) taught by Prof. Shashi to be a bit of a kick in the face with the amount of content, but really very little of it actually gets assessed because you revisit in much greater detail haematology in Year 4… so don’t get carried away on the nitty gritty details. You also do ‘Respiratory Medicine’ (RM) which is taught by a very passionate lecturer, but with that passion comes a ridiculous amount of extra content thrown in and too many painful diagrams which students understandably struggle to find how they could possibly assess it. Finally, you’ll also see the year 2 reincarnation of Ecology of Health, with JCU’s very own ‘Rural, Remote, Indigenous and Tropical Health’ (RRITH) where you dive deep into health conditions prevalent around the tropics and remote regions such as Melioidosis, TB and Q fever. I personally found semester 1 of Year 2 the most interesting of all semesters over the first 2 years.

In second semester you do ‘Neuroscience' (NEURO) which is definitely the most content heavy subject of the first two years. But at least the best lecturer ever to grace the earth 'Naga' teaches it and gives a 100 slide summary at the end of the semester which he keenly hints to everyone to study for the exam via. As you'd expect, you start to learn about the basic functions of the brain, the ascending and descending tracts and so on. Adjunct to this, you study 'Medical Pharmacology' (MP) which is all about your drugs and how they work in the body. Probably the most relevant of all the subjects, but still a pain in the arse to study just given the sheer volume of drugs - I managed to do pretty well this semester using flash cards, but then again I use Anki for everything (shameless Anki shoutout - it really helps). There's also 'Gastrointestinal Medicine and Nutrition' (GIMN) which gives a pretty general foundation knowledge for the GIT and a very very watered down intro to pathologies. Was actually disappointed we only got one dedicated week to pathologies... but oh well. It's almost universally agreed that GIMN is the easiest subject of second sem, probably something to do with the fact that it used to be a 1st year subject and the lecturer that teaches it has the most bare slides (and when they use comic sans... you know it's going to be good). Finally, you also do 'Psychological Medicine and Human Development' (PMHD) which is your psychology (not to be confused with psychiatry) subject. I personally hated this subject, but largely because I thought it was taught horrendously - and spent way too much time forcing rote learning of definitions and dates (ie. ADHD requires these specific features for this duration and at these ages...) when even real psychiatrists don't have the DSM-V memorised. I also didn't like all the contradictory theories of development which we had to learn. But that's my opinion - maybe that's your jam.

Overall, I really liked second year. It was quite tough, definitely harder than first year and second sem definitely had me struggling towards the end. But it felt more like actual medicine and I'm done (yay!). Supposedly, third year first sem it settles down a bit before picking up 2nd sem and giving year 2 2nd sem a run for its money in terms of difficulty. We'll see.

*To be updated as I continue on the course.

Clinical Years
Remind me to edit this in 2024 once I finish the course.

The Clinical Experience

MBBS1 3 day GP placement
Can be organised by the student or locally allocated by JCU. You have done barely a semester of undergrad “Medicine” so expect to be about as useful as the potplant sitting in the corner. That being said, it’s a great early clinical experience and you can perhaps start to develop early history taking skills and take note of communication techniques used in clinic settings. One’s experience on this placement tends to be influenced by the supervisor. I was lucky enough to get my own GP back home to take me and he was absolutely fantastic – showed me around the whole place, and I even got to do a few histories by myself.

MBBS1 2 week elective
Can be organised by the student or locally allocated by JCU. I elected to mine back in my home state and had a great time in a hospital shadowing an internal medicine consultant. Once again, as a first year medical student these placements are pretty much all about early exposure to the health system and how things start to work. I enjoyed mine, and saw a lot of cool procedures in theatre, as well as did a few ward rounds!

MBBS2 1 Month rural placement
Can be organised by the student however the vast majority of students end up getting it allocated by JCU as it saves a lot of bureaucratic kafuffling and wasted time on the phone and signing extra paperwork. JCU has rural placement sites in most states around Australia, with an understandable heavy focus in QLD. I got allocated to arguably the most remote site that JCU offers this year, in RA5/MMM7 territory, and am honestly having one of the best times right now. I can’t go into detail specifically where I am as that may reveal my location, but the whole team here have been really fantastic and I’m very lucky my supervisors, PHOs and SMOs have been really supportive. None of them have put me into uncomfortable situations and all of them really do want to involve me in what they’re doing.

I will continue to update this as I go on, but honestly I’ve done more clinical stuff in the last week than I have done in the past 2 years. While most of my friends who go to other medical schools in Years ½ tell me they’ve just started GP placements, I’ve literally done an LMA intubation, cannulated, taken bloods and done a ventrogluteal IM bicillin injection all within 4 days of my first week of placement. That is seriously something you don’t see on non-rural placements, certainly not in second year!

It’s really fantastic to finally start to see some of my Medical learnings see a clinical application… I’m now starting to integrate my Year 1 ENDO knowledge, with my Year 2 CVM and MP knowledge with patients who come in with 4 day history of palpitations on a background of chronic heart failure. Some cogs than begin to turn a little bit harder when the SMO follows up with a question like “the patient has hypokalaemia probably linked to Schizophrenia-linked polydipsia so why is spironolactone a better choice of diuretic over furosemide?" There have been many moments where I’ve sat there thinking for a good 5 minutes before delivering an answer, 50% right. But you learn from these on-the-spot experiences. The answer by the way (for those wondering) is because spironolactone is a potassium sparing diuretic, which would help prevent worsening the hypokalaemia by preventing reabsorption of sodium and thus secretion of potassium in the late DCT and CD of the renal tubules. This is in contrast to furosemide which is a loop diuretic which blocks the Na/K/2Cl- apical transporter in the TAL of the Loop of Henle which leads to increased potassium loss and could lead to serious heart arrhythmias as a result. Anyway, the point is - it was a fun thought experiment to start integrating all these knowledge into real clinical scenarios.

*To be updated as I continue to go on placement.

Miscellaneous Questions
Mabshie Roey said:
I just wanted to know what are the things to prepare for [in the] first-year [of the] MBBS?
I know it can seem strange, but what I say to everyone is to really not "prepare" before uni starts. Just enjoy the remaining spare time you have left before Medicine starts, because once it does start - it's pretty much full on for 6 years with little breaks. First year is all about setting the basic science groundwork for Medicine, so all the content is foundation knowledge to get everyone an even playing field, so you won't be at all disadvantaged if you didn't go to an Australian school (ie. Internationals) or didn’t study biology at high school. If you really wanted, reviewing some biology knowledge may help you with the CTL module, but other than that I think you should honestly just find some time to relax before things kick off! I didn't even do biology at high school, and still did well in first year! Definitely do not go over the entire Australian curriculum; only small parts of it really align with the content taught in first year, and it basically has no overlap from Year 2 onwards, other than basic maths calculations which you would already be competent in.

CocoDreams said:
Hi Alex, I have done a bit of research but I was wondering whether JCU specifically helps marginalised communities through some specific training or teaching because I found things for rural areas but not much for other communities. Thanks :)
I would have a look around on here; Division of Tropical Health and Medicine. It has a fair bit of information on JCU's programs and commitment to supporting rural training pathways including the "Allied Health Rural Generalist Program", which by its very nature shows a commitment to helping marginalised communities who typically live in rural areas. If you also look through the course guides online, you'll see JCU has a significant number of mandatory and elective placements in rural and Indigenous communities, both domestically and internationally which tries to foster enjoyable experiences for students to hopefully retain students after graduation in these areas.

Specific commitments to Indigenous and tropical health can often be linked to JCU's very own research institute, the 'Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine' which does a lot of world-leading research in Indigenous and tropical health; See more here; Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine | AITHM.

Other links which are related to your research and show JCU's commitment; Making a difference to underserved communities, http://www.ruralhealth.org.au/14nrhc/sites/default/files/Richards, Janet_D10.pdf, https://docs.education.gov.au/sites/default/files/submissions/53785/jcu.pdf, https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws...17-18_jcu_gp_training_annual_report_final.pdf.

TC787 said:
How are you enjoying living in Townsville?
I’ve spent 2 years on college without a car, so this orients you to a particular situation whereby I’ve spent a large portion of my time literally on campus, aside from occasional trips to the town centre with friends who have cars. Look, I came from a non-rural area in NSW and the change from there to Townsville is definitely noticeable – you don’t feel that fast paced vibe. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it has all the essentials except maybe some of your really niche artsy buildings or cafes and for the most part I’ve had an enjoyable time in Townsville even though I haven’t honestly spent much time “exploring” the place. After 2 years, I’ve definitely settled in and I don’t really have any issues, although the heat is painful in summer. It has the strand which is nice, but is an annoying 25-30 min drive from the uni so typically you’d only go there on special occasions. My biggest pet peeve is the lack of public transport and this has somewhat left a bad taste in my mouth, but if you have a car I guess this might not be a concern to you. Next year I’m moving off college into my own place with a friend so I think I’ll be getting a more authentic Townsvillian experience with a bit more freedom to go outside of the surrounds of the uni itself. The other thing is Townsville does unfortunately have a pretty notable crime problem, and while I haven’t personally been a victim of it – you do hear about cars being broken into on a fairly regular basis and this does make you a bit more wary of your belongings.

TC787 said:
Anything you love about JCU?
Cliché, but I think the friendships you build are the best part of JCU. And this doesn’t extend purely to students, but also with the lecturers. I find that what you get with JCU, being a smaller uni is you do have so many students from across Australia and the globe who are essentially forced together into a place so everyone is essentially in the same boat. You don’t have any cliques of high school friends sticking together and withdrawing which are some of the stories I hear from my friends in the city who have gone to one of the GO8s. Everyone is forced to make friends, which is great I found. Perhaps the biggest thing I love is JCU throws you into placements from Year 1 and gets you as much clinical exposure as feasible over the 6 years. I’m well into my 2nd year rural placement and am already learning a ridiculous amount of Medicine from being on the job, and I’m so glad for JCU for giving me this opportunity. I’ve also found that most of the senior lecturers who do teach really do care about hearing what students have to say to improve the course (As/Prof. Pete Johnson in particular) and try their best to really assist students. In saying this, I do have my criticisms of JCU – especially the fact that the lecturers are grossly overworked and I think some of the content they teach has not been changed for a decade and at times it seems our feedback falls on deaf ears. But anyway, I’ve been happy for the most part.

TC787 said:
Does the first year timetable leave much room to work on weekdays?
You can, and certainly many students do balance part time work outside of study throughout the week. I think the CMD recommends <20hours of work/week to keep things manageable for people, but this is of course not a hard and fast rule. COVID has meant the once rigid timetable that I had in first year (9-4 kind of thing) has become very much flexible in giving flexibility to watch lectures when they suit students. I’m not sure what’s going to happen next year with regards to this. But yes, you will have time to work if you so desire

TC787 said:
Can you describe the dynamic between the cohorts?
Typically you’ll find the cohorts remain fairly segregated due to how the timetables work. That being said, there are plenty of opportunities at the student society and extracurricular events (medball, medrevue etc.) for the cohorts to intermingle. I’ve also found that college fosters a great environment for making friends with people outside of your year. Also, some placements in each years overlap with older years on placement. I find the med students typically congregate and you'll find yourself working your way up the grapevine of friendgroups across all years

TC787 said:
Did you learn anything interesting at your interview day (that we might miss out on with it being held on Zoom)?
Not really – other than getting a bit of a feel for how the uni looks. We were also thrown into a small room before our interviews started where about 10 of us yet to be interviewed went through a few icebreaker questions to “ease our nerves”.

TC787 said:
Re the previous MSO posts describing an “integrated” curriculum style – can you describe that?
Each subject taught in the preclin years has some level of overlap. Ie. In year 2 you have one subject on Pharmacology and another on Neurological medicine. In Week 10 you do study the pathophysiology of Parkinson’s disease in Neurology, and then at the same time in the other pharmacology subject you learn the drugs used to treat PD (ie. L-DOPA with carbidopa). That’s what I meant by integrated. The subjects themselves are discrete, but the course structures tries for the most part to integrate them.

TC787 said:
Is the content taught PBL style (/an equivalent)? What’s your experience with that been?
PBL is typically seen more in the clinical years (4-6), while the preclin years my experience is it has been less case based and more raw physiology of different topics which “overlap” with each other. This has its advantages – you get to go into detail in learning a particular Medical topic (ie. Cardio, resp, endocrinology, etc.) however one thing I’ve found annoying about it is you don’t typically get to see its application clinically immediately which is the benefit of a PBL style, which comes as a disadvantage. Also, while the med faculty says they constantly update the curriculum based on student feedback, there are certainly large segments of the curriculum which are really outdated and need a bit of a review.

*If anyone above wants their name removed for asking the above questions, please message me and I will redact it.
 
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Crow

MD3 | Staff
Moderator
Amazing post alexlipton, you're a legend!

For some housekeeping:
Questions regarding the written application should be posted here: JCU Written Application General Questions
Questions regarding the interview or application process in general should be posted here: JCU - JCU Interview and General Questions
Questions regarding non-standard entry specifically should be posted here: JCU Non-Standard Entry

All other questions related to JCU's program itself, placements, the curriculum, living in Townsville etc should go in this thread!

Cheers.
 

El_maco

Lurker
What does a normal week look like in first year - mon-fri in terms of contact hours and when lectures and tutorials are held for certain subjects?

Cheers,
 

Stapedius

JCU MBBS III
Valued Member
What does a normal week look like in first year - mon-fri in terms of contact hours and when lectures and tutorials are held for certain subjects?

Cheers,
Below I've attached a copy of the 2020 timetable of Week 3 Semester 1 for first year, which I believe was pre-COVID so is a good guide as to the general hours spent doing various things in a normal world.

You'll notice that there are a total of 4x (one for each subject) introductory lectures coloured in the dark red. These each go for about 50 mins and deliver most of the content for the week. This is followed up via 4x 'Guided Learning Sessions' (in the pink colour) where you essentially work through a little workbook of questions which aim to develop and integrate your understanding of the content for that week, with access to roaming tutors and the lecturer to ask questions. The GLS' are scheduled for 3 hours, but typically most students leave after 1-2 hours once they complete it, or when they feel they've had enough of a social time and want to actual do the GLS by themselves at home when they're less distracted. So it may seem like a lot, but I think I've only ever stayed for a full GLS once in my entire first 2 years at JCU. GLS' are mandatory to attend in first year, but this is not the case for second year. Usually later in the week you have what 4x of what JCU calls 'Synthesising Sessions' (in the dark blue) which aim to review the week's key concepts and go over any questions or queries students had, particularly during the GLS. These each last for ~50 minutes as well.

You'll also find a few other things in the timetable which are not as regular each week. This includes things like the 'GP Visits Placement Information' session, which are additional sporadic timetabled lectures which may deliver some info on upcoming placements/clinical requirements etc. This is the same with the Assessment Item on Friday of this week. The brown coloured boxes represent clinical skills sessions, which seems like a lot of time there - but only some of the year will be scheduled to each of the sessions, so you may find you do have a few gaps on some days when other people have clinical skills while you won't have it for 2-3 weeks. The big purple box at the end of the week is an 'Integrative Session' which supposedly aims to integrate the content of all 4 subjects for a kind of clinical relevance discussion and has all the lecturers come together to discuss specific pathologies that overly all 4 subjects. This occurs every few weeks I've found, but doesn't seem to have any kind of pattern or obvious predictable schedule. I've found integrative sessions hugely hit and miss - some have been great; some have been sleep-inducing and completely medically irrelevant.

Home group is as I've explained earlier; essentially just support network run by older med students to support the younger med students (just kind of a group hangout to chat about issues/have a bit of fun). I think that explains everything on the timetable!

Hope that helps you out a bit! :)

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Stapedius

JCU MBBS III
Valued Member
Here are some questions I was recently asked over discord via DM. With permission, I have cross-posted them here.

Dacryocystitis said:
Hey Alex! Dacryocystitis from MSO here! Quick question, with the JCU course, what do they mean by it being integrated? I know about 5 years back apparently there was just 1 topic per semester which was separated up into different systems and was integrated with clinical skills. I was wondering if this was still the case?
Hi there! I'm not sure where you got that information about 1 topic per semester. As far as I know, it's always been 4 subjects/topics per semester which are attempted to be integrated together in clinical skills yes, but also it is integrated with course design so you might learn Parkinson's disease for example in your Neuroscience subject at the same time as your learn drugs for Parkinson's disease in the Medical Pharmacology subject. You also have specific "integrative sessions" every few weeks which try to integrate content from all topics/subjects into one session with a focus usually on one or two pathologies.

Dacryocystitis said:
When I sussed the JCU website it was showing each sem with just a topic! Teaching Period 1: MD1010:12 Introduction to Integrated Medical Studies Part 1 of 2, Teaching Period 2: MD1020:12 Introduction to Integrated Medical Studies Part 2 of 2 - sorta like that!
Yep so that's just the overall semester title: MD1010 includes the four subjects I listed above - it really means very little.

Dacryocystitis said:
Was wondering if I could get a bit of advice about interview prep. I know what I want to say at this point but I'm finding its not super concise and I come across really nervous and flustered.
I think you'll find you wouldn't be human if you don't get a little nervous and flustered around interviews... I mean I certainly was the same when I interviewed. The interviewers know it is a stressful time but it really just comes down to finding ways to really just managing that stress so it doesn't become debilitating for you. Just try and put yourself in stressful situations where you have to respond to questions you haven't heard before (and this can be as simple as getting a friend or teacher or someone you don't know to ask you some random questions on random topics) and then practice responding in a logical way. This may mean you take a couple of seconds or even a minute to just process the question and clear your heard before speaking. I think there is an expectation to speak and fill silences, but actually I think being able to think actively about a question and formulate a response before speaking looks far better than the rambler who doesn't think it through. I was so nervous I literally didn't sleep the night before my interview... but here I am. So you're not alone - adrenaline is a strange weapon and I find the interviews do try and make the interview experience really personable and welcoming.

Dacryocystitis said:
I was wondering how informal one would go about the interview? Someone mentioned 'treating them as your friends and making jokes' but was v unsure!
I wouldn't go as far as saying you should treat them as your friends... but you should definitely try and be warm towards them. Not to the point of sycophancy, but just respectful. I think how you play it will come down to your assessment of the mood - some interviewers may well appreciate some levity... but I would make careful assessments of the general mood and whether the people who are interviewing you are making jokes. This almost gives you the right to reciprocate this. But if they are stone cold and emotionless as mine were... I would be hesitant to throw in many jokes there. You just have to try and get a feel for your unique situation.

Dacryocystitis said:
What was the debate like? All I can picture is a proper model UN type debate haha.
Don't think debate... think discussion. I had 3 people sitting opposite from me with a table between us. They had a clear script of questions to ask me which they went through - I answered and when I stopped speaking they pretty much always just went onto the next question. I don't think I get any follow up questions until my last ethics question based discussion. I can't exactly remember what the follow up question was, but I remember discussing the effectiveness of cigarette packaging in promoting smoking cessation or something. Sounds like there was some variation amongst students in the animosity of the interviewers though... like I said; it all comes back to the interviewer lottery.
 

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Hi Alex, sorry that this has been asked before but I'm still a bit confused 😅 What does an integrated course at JCU mean? Does it mean that it's half clinical placements half medical lectures ...?
 

Stapedius

JCU MBBS III
Valued Member
Hi Alex, sorry that this has been asked before but I'm still a bit confused 😅 What does an integrated course at JCU mean? Does it mean that it's half clinical placements half medical lectures ...?
See my above response in relation to this exact question;
...as far as I know, it's always been 4 subjects/topics per semester which are attempted to be integrated together in clinical skills yes, but also it is integrated with course design so you might learn Parkinson's disease for example in your Neuroscience subject at the same time as your learn drugs for Parkinson's disease in the Medical Pharmacology subject. You also have specific "integrative sessions" every few weeks which try to integrate content from all topics/subjects into one session with a focus usually on one or two pathologies.
So no, it does not mean half clinical placements and half medical lectures. I would add that I don't personally know for a fact the answer to what JCU is meaning by "integrated", but I'm only relying on my experiences with the course structure to make that judgement. In summary once again; the integration is more about the course design and the overlap between clinical skills, and amongst the subjects and what's taught in each weeks. So you're not discretely learning about one topic in isolation, but learning for example in one week the GI exam while simultaneously studying GIMN (the gastro subject in year 2) clinical conditions and their pathophysiology while at the same time looking at GI drugs in MP to treat such conditions. That's what I think JCU means by integration.
 

aura

Member
Hi everyone! It's been a long time since I scoured this forum, and thought I'd piggyback on Alex's wonderful post and breakdown on JCU Medicine. I'm also a JCU med student and will be starting my final year of medicine in 2021. With the JCU interviews now underway, I'm sure many people have questions on the program itself, and I'm more than happy to provide some insight on the course (particularly the clinical years, as it looks like Alex did an amazing job detailing the pre-clin years). :)
 

kmhm12

Member
I was wondering what the prospects of returning to your home state was if you studied at JCU? I am currently living in Victoria and received an interview offer (yay!), but I have become conflicted as to whether I should pursue graduate medicine in Victoria or study undergrad med at JCU (if I receive an offer) despite the low possibility of being able to return to Victoria for internships.
 

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aura

Member
I was wondering what the prospects of returning to your home state was if you studied at JCU? I am currently living in Victoria and received an interview offer (yay!), but I have become conflicted as to whether I should pursue graduate medicine in Victoria or study undergrad med at JCU (if I receive an offer) despite the low possibility of being able to return to Victoria for internships.
Congratulations!
In terms of interstate internships, I know quite a few people this year who just graduated and got internships back in their home state (Sydney and Melbourne). It definitely is more difficult as you won't be Category A, but you'll have a higher chance if you apply to less popular hospitals/ networks. It is difficult, but it can be and has been done!
 

cocodreams

Regular Member
Hello,
In terms of integrated learning, how is it beneficial for medical students? I understand that it really helps make links as medical students, but how could we explain it in terms of when we practice as a doctor?
 
I have a general question about the JCU course. I was wondering if there are any opportunities to do overseas placements/clinical electives? I have heard of people going to areas like Sri Lanka (which makes sense because it is a tropical country) but not east Asia, which is an area I am particularly interested in. I just want to know if it is possible even if the area is not rural or tropical and if anyone else has ever done this. Thank you in advance!
 

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aura

Member
I have a general question about the JCU course. I was wondering if there are any opportunities to do overseas placements/clinical electives? I have heard of people going to areas like Sri Lanka (which makes sense because it is a tropical country) but not east Asia, which is an area I am particularly interested in. I just want to know if it is possible even if the area is not rural or tropical and if anyone else has ever done this. Thank you in advance!
Yes there are! You usually get this opportunity during some select placements (2nd yr rural, 6th year 10 week elective). The uni offers Sri Lanka and Fiji placements in 5th and 6th year which is something you apply to the uni for. However, if you want to go to any other country, you will have to organise these placements yourself and they have to meet the requirements JCU has in place. Some placement places I have heard people going to include Tanzania, Peru, USA, Canada, Korea. If your placements meet all the requirements and JCU deems it safe to send students, there's nowhere you can't go.

Except for your rural placements, you can organise placements anywhere. There are no restrictions as to whether it has to be in a tropical country.
 

TC787

Member
aura would you be able to please jot down a list of the placements (especially the rural ones) that occur in each of the years? I’m also curious as to which ones are spent in a single site for a whole year, vs which are short/you move around. Thanks so much!
 
Yes there are! You usually get this opportunity during some select placements (2nd yr rural, 6th year 10 week elective). The uni offers Sri Lanka and Fiji placements in 5th and 6th year which is something you apply to the uni for. However, if you want to go to any other country, you will have to organise these placements yourself and they have to meet the requirements JCU has in place. Some placement places I have heard people going to include Tanzania, Peru, USA, Canada, Korea. If your placements meet all the requirements and JCU deems it safe to send students, there's nowhere you can't go.

Except for your rural placements, you can organise placements anywhere. There are no restrictions as to whether it has to be in a tropical country.
Thanks so much for your reply! Sounds amazing :))
 

aura

Member
aura would you be able to please jot down a list of the placements (especially the rural ones) that occur in each of the years? I’m also curious as to which ones are spent in a single site for a whole year, vs which are short/you move around. Thanks so much!
Placements can be organised by Pre-clinical and Clinical years. In Clinical years, your learning is mainly done in the hospital. This means that you will be doing placement year round.

PRE-CLINICAL YEARS
If you're not on placement, then you're doing lectures in Townsville.

Yr1- GP and 2 week elective- Done during the holidays
GP: Can be organised by yourself or organised by the uni. This is a 3 day stint, just for you to get a taste of what Dr life is like. Mainly observing, but completely dependent on the GP you go to. Uni organised ones will be in Tsv.
2 week elective: Self-organised placement in a specialty and area of your choosing

Yr2- Rural placement (4 weeks)- Done during the holidays
If doing this placement domestically, the uni will organise it for you. You can preference which locations you prefer, and a computer system will ballot you accordingly. Locations include TI, Palm Island, Mt. Isa, Innisfail, Bowen, Emerald, etc. This is done during either the midyear or end of year holidays.

Yr3- ED placement (*added by alexlipton: 2 weeks) - Done during the end-of-year holidays
Again, can be self-organised or done by the uni. If uni organised, then it will be in the ED at 1 of 3 sites: Cairns, Townsville, or Mackay. Uni organised ED placement sign ups will be open on a select time and date, and when and where you do this placement is decided on a first come first serve basis.

CLINICAL YEARS
By these years, parts of the cohort will be split and sent to different clinical sites as their "home site". In year 4, the options are Cairns and Townsville. In years 5-6, the options are Cairns, Townsville, and Mackay. These home sites are allocated through preferencing and a computer system. Don't know how the computer system works, but some algorithm determines where they send you. You will be doing placements at your homesite mainly except for rural. However, if you so choose, there are opportunities to do certain rotations in Mt. Isa, Fiji, and Sri Lanka. You have to apply for those opportunities, and the travel fees are covered by the student, so it can get pricy.

Yr4- 6 week rotations in Rural, Public hospital, Private hospital, Community, Clinical intensive
Clinical intensive and Community are basically lecture only rotations with a nursing home placement here and there so I won't be talking about this. This will be done at your home clinical site.
Rural: Completely the same as the Yr2 placement, except most of your learning will be done in hospital and you have the opportunity to learn more hands-on skills as you will (hopefully) know more than you did in Yr2. (*Added by alexlipton: it's also 6 weeks, not 4 weeks as per Year 2.) Preferencing system and locations available are the same. This is the ONLY rotation in Yr4 where you will NOT be at your home clinical site.
Private and Public: Rotate at you home clinical site (Townsville or Cairns) in the public and private hospitals (6 weeks each)

The home clinical sites will now increase by 1 to include Mackay (so Townsville, Cairns or Mackay)

Yr5- 6 week rotations in Medicine, Surgery, Paeds, Obsgyn, Mental Health, GP
This year can be done completely at your homesite UNLESS you want to do a rotation in Mt. Isa, Fiji, or Sri Lanka.

Yr6- 10 week rotations in Medical specialty (Onc/ Cardio/ neuro/ etc.), Surgical specialty (Ortho/ surg/ opthal/ etc), Crit Care (ICU/ ED/ Anaesthetics), Elective, Rural
Elective and rural are the only rotations where you move, the other rotations are done at your home site. The elective is self-organised so where you go is dependent on where you want to go. The process for rural is, again, the same as Yr2 and Yr4.


Hope this helps!
 
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avocado5

Lurker
aura If I may ask a few questions. How do you or your peers commute to rural placements? If by car, whats the longest drive you have heard of? How easy is it to find accomodation at those places?
 

aura

Member
Either plane or by car. The uni subsidizes travel costs based on distance. Accommodation is provided at each rural site. Pre-clin years pay about 100 bucks a week for accom. Clinical years is free.

Furthest I've heard would probably be TI and Bamaga.
 
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