In 2022, anyone who’s aspiring to become a nurse, midwife, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, psychologist, speech pathologist or sports and exercise science practitioner needs to stay current. Changes in technology, procedures and research are constantly informing current practices.
It’s important for anyone who aims to improve the health and well-being of patients and the public to stay on top of these developments. Graduates of James Cook University’s (JCU) College of Healthcare Sciences fit this bill. As products of the college’s quality teaching and research, these future healthcare professionals are ready to progress their careers in their chosen specialty area.
A key component of their success lies in JCU’s experiential learning opportunities — a distinct advantage for any student. They come in many shapes, forms and sizes, but always tailored to one goal: equipping students with practical skills and experience to succeed as professionals in their field after graduation.
JCU offers programmes in the area of
Each is defined by that suite of JCU advantages: a sense of family, experiential opportunities, a vibrant culture of research, and cutting-edge facilities.
Faculty members here value, respect and support students. They understand that learning from one another is a crucial aspect in the development of the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes to work successfully. As such, every student at JCU are taught by more than just teachers, but true educators, mentors and role models.
Nursing and Midwifery
Sport and Exercise Science
The Bachelor of Physiotherapy embodies the finest features of a JCU degree. It is ranked #1 in Australia for full-time employment outcomes and leads to a US$64,900 median graduate salary. As many as 88% of graduates were satisfied with their skills development, according to Good Universities Guide 2022, UG study area. Ninety-nine percent of all JCU Physiotherapy graduates obtain a job, with 1% going on to further study.
Graduates aren’t just career-ready. The Bachelor of Physiotherapy, accredited with the Australian Physiotherapy Council, lets each student explore, discover, and grow — ultimately, setting them up to make a difference in rehabilitation healthcare with their Physiotherapy degree.
A focus on ethical and professional practice makes this possible. This allows students to develop professional skills to meet the needs of people in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities. Support is available from their first year, through mentoring and networking opportunities with students, tutors and lecturers as well.
What truly sets JCU Physiotherapy students apart, however, is that they learn by doing through professional experience placements. These come in many different forms, such as observation experiences, clinical experiences such as working in the massage clinic or with the “Better Balance” programme, clinical placements and volunteer work.
These crucial and formal components prepare students for registration as a physiotherapist. They are what make a JCU Physiotherapy graduate “work ready” when they leave university.
JCU Physiotherapy students complete six five-week clinical placements distributed over two semesters. They include Acute Care (two placements), Neurology/ Rehabilitation, Musculoskeletal practice, Rural Practice, and a non-prescribed elective placement for example in paediatrics, women’s health, spinal cord injury, burns, private practice, animal physiotherapy and other specialist areas of interest to the student. Students can undertake a placement abroad too, to countries like Spain, New Zealand and Cambodia.
Jose Barragan, 33, a Bachelor of Physiotherapy student, has completed four clinical placements thus far. He credits his lecturers for preparing him well.
“During the first and second year, we have some exposure to real patients mainly with some of our lecturers’ supervision, making the experience easier as we know what we are going to find. We can develop our clinical reasoning with them.”
As a Physiotherapy student at JCU, he must complete all pre-clinical subjects and 1,000 hours of supervised clinical experience to graduate.
With a solid foundation, he was able to fully receive the perks of his placements. He enjoyed his placement at the JCU Physiotherapy Musculoskeletal Clinic. Here, he gained exposure to acute and chronic orthopaedic conditions in the outpatient setting.
“During the first and second year, we have some exposure to real patients mainly with some of our lecturers’ supervision, making the experience easier as we know what we are going to find. We can develop our clinical reasoning with them. It was good for gaining speed in my clinical reasoning and joining the findings from the assessments with the presenting condition and then performing the appropriate treatments.”
This was followed by the first of the two acute care placements. It was completed in a private hospital in Townsville, where Barragan learned to prioritise and adapt to the changes that occur in a hospital. He followed the whole process with two patients from the operating theatres to discharge, as well. These complemented his exposure to inpatient medical/surgical, orthopaedic, neurology, and cardio-respiratory conditions across the lifespan.
“I think that it has been the placement I have enjoyed the most so far,” he enthuses.
His positive streak continued at a paediatric private practice in Mackay. “I had previous experience working with children and I enjoy working with them and helping them and their families achieving their goals,” says Barragan.
His most recent placement was in the acute wards at the Townsville University Hospital. “I like working in hospital and seeing the way we can help the patients from the physiotherapy perspective,” explains Barragan. “I find it rewarding seeing patients progressing and reaching small goals until they get discharged.”
He’s only halfway through this clinical education programme — yet, he’s confident he’s on the right track. Armed with the knowledge, skills and experience he’s amassed, Barragan is assured of his professional future.
“I definitely feel prepared to join the workforce and to provide safe and effective treatments to patients,” he says. “I think that the real exposure, seeing real patients with real conditions, reinforces what we studied and makes everything come together and make sense.”
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