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

JL538

Monash University - BMedSc/MD I
Hi guys, just to confirm - JCU has major exams at the end of year 5 and year 6 is just preparation for placements right? Also, is such a structure the norm for 6 year med courses? Since Adelaide is the same.
 

Crow

Medical Student
Emeritus Staff
Hi guys, just to confirm - JCU has major exams at the end of year 5 and year 6 is just preparation for placements right? Also, is such a structure the norm for 6 year med courses? Since Adelaide is the same.
The current structure is that the major final exams are completed in 5th year, yes. UNSW has a different program structure to JCU so it’s not identical between 6 year programs (there aren’t any others aside from JCU/Adel/UNSW).
 

Stapedius

JCU MBBS III
Valued Member
Hi guys, just to confirm - JCU has major exams at the end of year 5 and year 6 is just preparation for placements right? Also, is such a structure the norm for 6 year med courses? Since Adelaide is the same.
Yes, as Crow has said you basically sit your final exams at the end of 5th year. 6th year is completely pass/fail and has no real written examination component as you spend your entire time in hospitals on various rotations and get assessed on competency/professionalism. For this reason, many students do consider it a mini-internship and particularly in rural areas I've spoken to some doctors who say the 6th years get treated like interns. Some may call it unpaid volunteering... others might call it great experience haha. I only know of one person who has failed 6th year, and that was because they simply wouldn't show up to their rotations on time pretty regularly and thus didn't meet course requirements.
 
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Stapedius

JCU MBBS III
Valued Member
2nd Year 1 Month Rural Placement Review
Introduction
So having had some time to relax after my 2nd year one month placement and to gather my thoughts, here’s my more comprehensive review of the whole experience. For anyone that is yet to do a rural placement at any medical school, I hope this provides some insight into why you should not be scared about it, nor should you go into it with the wrong mindset. I remember when I was allocated to my rural clinical site, I was very hesitant to go and felt initially annoyed that I was no-where near a big city as some students want so they can “return to Brisbane on the weekends” (unfortunately this is the thinking of some people). My rural site in QLD was further away from Brisbane than Brisbane is from Melbourne, with a population just shy of 4000. The closest “city” is Cairns which is still close to 15 hours away (by car) from my placement site. But I wanted to keep an open mind, because ultimately I was going to be here for a month, and wanted to make the most of the experience while I had it.

Arrival
Rocking up, we got in touch with our placement coordinator, who is employed by JCU to basically coordinate our daily schedules and weekend activities and to make sure we have a point of contact for any questions/concerns. Our placement coordinator was not a doctor, but a member of the community who integrated us into the culture of the town we went to. He gave us the keys to our accommodation, which is subsidised by JCU for about $100/week. For this, the person I went with and I got a whole 4 bedroom house to ourselves, fully furnished. The first few days we all just got settled into the location.

Starting at the hospital
When we started our placement at the hospital, my placement partner and I alternated between doing ED and Ward/Outpatients so we could get to see a variety of Medicine in the hospital we were primarily situated in. But this is not your typical hospital; as you’ll find in rural areas the hospital had RAC, outpatient GP rooms, a dental clinic, ED, surgery and a dialysis unit, all under the one roof. I started in ED and on my first day, the nurses got me to do a IM dorsogluteal bicillin injection and take bloods, even though I’ve never done this before. Of course this was supervised and we were taught through the process, but it was pretty crazy considering I was only just a measly second year. Next minute, I was observing a implanon removal in one of the outpatient GP surgery rooms.

One of the greatest benefits of going out to a true remote location is that you actually do get to see a lot more Medicine, because the reality is, unlike those regional centres which lie only a few hours out from major tertiary hospitals, the ability to transfer patients with more complex conditions to the bigger hospitals is something that is not easy. RFDS and QAS did run various flights for patients that required certain specialist interventions (like a tooth knuckle injury which required orthopaedic assessment), but the nearest base hospital is in Cairns and it takes time to get everything arranged and patients can only be transferred if they are stable. This means that sometimes the doctors at the place I went to would be forced into making life-or-death decisions to treat patients who may ultimately need specialist care but should they risk putting them on a flight to Cairns or Townsville, they may not survive the flight. Hence, while I didn’t see anything of the sort while I was there, one of the SMOs I was working with told us a story of how she has performed a fasciotomy in my rural location for a patient that had compartment syndrome; a time critical and serious syndrome that is really hard to identify, but delays in intervention can be disastrous.

Placement Experiences
Other things we got to see were cardioversion, tooth extractions, fishhook removals, cyst drainages, atrial fibrillation. I also intubated (LMA) a patient under sedation, even though that’s a 4th year clinical skill. I’m surprised I didn’t end up sticking the tube down the oesophagus rather than the larynx... I then ended up manually inflating the lungs of the sedated patient using this balloon thing (that’s the technical term, yes) and tried to remember all the Respiratory Medicine content I had learnt in Semester 1, and why the anaesthetist wasn’t concerned when he asked me to stop the manual inflation of the lungs. Because of course, when you stop breathing, eventually the CO2 level rises enough and your hypercapnic drive triggers your respiratory drive. Eventually, this did happen after much anguish. It’s still disconcerting to hear the apnea beeping noise, and see the O2sats% drop, especially when you’ve been told to induce this by an anaethetist. But I guess it’s all basic biochemistry. The fact that I got to do all of this is likely because ultimately there is less bureaucratic red tape for remote hospitals and less hierarchy because there are only 5/6 doctors for the entire hospital. Everyone works together and tries to share their skills, because ultimately it’s just not possible to have subspecialist doctors be there all the time. Hence the role of rural generalism. As I’ve seen on placement in a big hospital, everything is very much regulated and honestly in my 2 week elective at the end of 1st year which I did do in a major tertiary hospital, the most I did was lift up the bed.

Being part of the team
As a result, one of the great things about doing placement in such a remote location is you start to feel like a part of the team. I got to know all my doctors well, and you hear that they are very much humans too, with families. We got invited to go to parties with them on the weekend, boating trips, road trips and during the day at work got to help them out with procedures and do some of our own procedures. I ended up in ED by the end of the placement as a mini PHO (a PGY2 was deemed a ‘PHO’ in the rural hospital I was at because they don’t take interns or JHOs due to how small the hospital is, and as a result the PGY2s are thought to do the same tasks and have the same responsibilities as PHOs); was conducting histories, coming up with differentials, writing ED summaries and then assisting with treatment plans and discharge summaries. On ward rounds, I did a TTS, practiced my system exams and I honestly have learnt an incredible amount from this experience of actually being able to do rather than merely passively observe. Especially with cannulation – this was honestly one of those things which I started out fearing, especially when I missed 3 cannulations in a row one day and this destroyed my self esteem. But you can only learn from failure and by the end of the placement I was starting to get more successful cannulations than failures, which I see as an improvement! Having the Medical Superintendent sit down and explain the physics and special techniques behind cannulation for 30 minutes out of his own time is just something you do not see often.

Indigenous health
The other thing which was great to see is actually observing some of the Indigenous healthcare issues. I can not understate enough that the stuff you learn in Medical school about Indigenous health is not only true, but it arguably doesn't even go far enough. The place I went to had a large Indigenous population, and not a single day went by where we didn’t see ARF and RHD. About every second day, 2 Indigenous patients were on dialysis for CKD. Because the cycle of disadvantage and systemic socioeconomic inequalities have not yet been solved. I saw young Indigenous kids aged 5 lose half their teeth due to cavities, some of those newly budded adult teeth. It’s disheartening stuff. And you cannot resort to victim blaming – you speak to these people and you realise the physical, sexual and verbal trauma that many of them have suffered through and the damage that alcohol has brought to communities, and you realise that there is not an easy fix. It’s difficult when there are limited jobs in the region, and when you have to actually see the application of kinship and how transferring a critically ill Indigenous patient to Cairns may actually not be viable, as they have cultural ties to the community. Simply not turning up to appointments was commonplace, and it’s so easy for people who have not been to these communities to just say “they need to get their act together” (I have people say this to me so it's not a rare sentiment), but you do not really know how important the cultural ties are until you’ve spoken to these people. A residual fear from the Protectionism era of hospitals as a “place to die” rather than a “place to heal” is something I heard time and time again from Indigenous elders, and is another factor in the huge issue that is closing the gap. Because the gap is real, and it still needs to be closed. But in saying that, things have gotten better than the team I was working with were really dedicated to trying to resolve some systemic issues through active prevention programs. We got to see some of the outreach programs run by one of the Rural Generalists who had subspeciality qualifications in renal care, who was basically doing the same work as a nephrologist without a nephrologist being present physically. By travelling out to communities to provide primary care for patients who would otherwise not present to hospital or GPs. By latching onto the issues early and improving health literacy about some of their conditions so patients can become empowered to make healthy changes, a study commissioned by the state gov found their program had reduced later kidney-related hospital admissions by those patients due to CKD by about 30%, due to the early intervention.

Collaboration with other healthcare workers
We were the only medical students on placement there at the time (which probably was great for us because it meant we probably got to do more), but there were a few OT students on placement from another university who we hung out with in our spare time. We also attended multidisciplinary meetings which saw the integration of doctors, nurses, RAC staff, OTs, allied health, etc. to discuss complex management of patients which need coordinated care. It was great to see that there was no superiority complex which you often hear from the doctors, thinking that they are the ‘top dogs’ in healthcare. Actually, everyone contributed their own specialist advice to management in a mutually beneficial and collaborative way. I honestly probably hung out with the nurses more than the doctors on some days - sometimes they were just more chill and were fun to talk to!

Summary
Overall, I have learnt a lot. I had a great time, made a lot of friends and felt so encouraged to return. Student support was fantastic, something I was scared about from the start. Being isolated in an isolated location is something I think we all fear. But everyone feels part of a big team, and I can definitely see myself returning at some point, even if it’s a 1 month locum down the track. I would highly recommend if you get the opportunity to do a rural placement, to go really rural so you get to see a whole lot and do a whole lot. I'm not saying you have to be rural generalist to enjoy a rural placement, nor do the doctors there expect everyone to want to do rural generalism (they were open with us about this) but if they can make your experience enjoyable enough that you will return even for a 2 week, 1 month of 6 month locum as any type of doctor (even a FIFO specialist) then to them, that is a success story for helping deal with the difficulties or rural and remote health.
 

avocado5

Lurker
Stapedius thank you for sharing this information. How did you get yourself to the placement location? How did you arrange transport? Some areas can be hard to get to and I do not feel comfortable driving by myself for long distances.
 

Stapedius

JCU MBBS III
Valued Member
Stapedius thank you for sharing this information. How did you get yourself to the placement location? How did you arrange transport? Some areas can be hard to get to and I do not feel comfortable driving by myself for long distances.
Hi there! Obviously how you get to your placement location depends on where it is and how far away it is. Some locations (such as Bowen or Innisfail) are only an hour or so drive away from Townsville and thus you can drive there pretty easily. Most placement sites are not solo, and thus generally people allocated to that site end up going together and splitting the fuel cost (which you can reimbursed by JCU). For longer distances, such as Weipa, Mt. Isa or Thursday Island, you might instead opt to fly there, and can get some of that cost subsidised by JCU as far as I'm aware (although I've only ever drive so I haven't gone down this route). While my placement site was indeed a very long (~20hrs) drive from Townsville, the person I was going with had a 4WD car and knew the region well enough so we turned it into a bit of a road trip sleeping halfway at a rural town and got something like $500 from JCU for fuel money (which worked out to be a little more than we spent on fuel). JCU helps you arrange transport if needed, and makes students submit a form prior to the placement so they're aware of your transport and how long it will take you, so they can keep track of you and make sure you're okay. Hope that helps :)
 
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hey just wondering if you have a copy of the msa med handbook cus I don't think the link works, or is there anywhere else I can see a structure of all the subjects because im super confused !! also wondering if I need to brush up on any chemistry/maths before I go as I'm hearing mixed opinions on how many calculations etc are involved in the course
 

Stapedius

JCU MBBS III
Valued Member
hey just wondering if you have a copy of the msa med handbook cus I don't think the link works, or is there anywhere else I can see a structure of all the subjects because im super confused !! also wondering if I need to brush up on any chemistry/maths before I go as I'm hearing mixed opinions on how many calculations etc are involved in the course
Hi, being the tech wizard that I am, I have fixed the website problem for you. You should be able to see the 2020 guide now - I'll add a PDF download link when I have some time later this week. As for your 2nd question, if you passed year 8/9 maths, you will be absolutely fine with the maths in the course. You do a 'Basic Numeracy Quiz' at the end of Year 1 which honestly had a question like "convert 15g into mg". You'll be glad to know the days of trig and integration are well over. There is some pretty heavy chemistry for the first couple weeks in the MTC course, but it's glossed over so fast and doesn't ever actually get assessed in the final exams, so I wouldn't worry about it too much. If you really really want, looking over a bit of Year 11/12 organic chem and enantiomers etc. may help you slightly, but for most people you'll be fine if you passed Chem.
 
Hi! Just wondering if you know how to access practice exams for MBBS 2, MD2011. Do they exist? Are they given through the college officially or do you need to find older students to pass information on? Thanks :)
 

Stapedius

JCU MBBS III
Valued Member
Hi! Just wondering if you know how to access practice exams for MBBS 2, MD2011. Do they exist? Are they given through the college officially or do you need to find older students to pass information on? Thanks :)
There are some mini practice "tests" and plenty of practice "questions" written by the lecturers of each modules distributed to the whole year, but no real practice "exams". As for past papers, officially the college outlaws the sharing of past papers, and typically they're already hard to come by as once you sit your exams you never see the exam paper again. Unofficially, some students usually get together and try and remember the questions so they can pass on some of the questions to future years. Typically these student-run question banks circulate around the year in the weeks leading up to the exam. Hope that helps :)
 
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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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”.


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.


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.
There are some mini practice "tests" and plenty of practice "questions" written by the lecturers of each modules distributed to the whole year, but no real practice "exams". As for past papers, officially the college outlaws the sharing of past papers, and typically they're already hard to come by as once you sit your exams you never see the exam paper again. Unofficially, some students usually get together and try and remember the questions so they can pass on some of the questions to future years. Typically these student-run question banks circulate around the year in the weeks leading up to the exam. Hope that helps :)
I was wondering if you knew of any anki decks for 1st year Jcu med going around?
 

Stapedius

JCU MBBS III
Valued Member
I was wondering if you knew of any anki decks for 1st year Jcu med going around?
Sorry I'm not aware of much of what's going on in first year at the moment. I would offer mine but I didn't start using Anki until 2nd year. Only other person I can think of who might be worth asking is wobblepong?
 

aus2019

Lurker
Sorry I'm not aware of much of what's going on in first year at the moment. I would offer mine but I didn't start using Anki until 2nd year. Only other person I can think of who might be worth asking is wobblepong?
Hi Stapedius
I am an international student taking a year off due to COVID restrictions . Hoping to start year 2 next year. Could you share your Anki deck with me?
My JCU email is [email protected]
 

RuralDr

Member
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! :)

View attachment 4180
Hi everyone, i was hoping someone might have the 2nd yr timetable they could post (or PM me)? Thanks so much.
 
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