4th year is the first of the clinical years of the JCU MBBS program. It is quite different to the previous three pre-clinical years however provides the first aspects of application of study. The excitement of the year stems from giving you an idea of what being a doctor is like as well as being able to take histories from patients, perform clinical examinations and see some really cool clinical signs! A proportion of the cohort completes 4th year in Cairns, whilst the rest remain in Townsville.

There are 4 rotations of 8 weeks in duration in 4th year with a week off between Term 1/Term 2 and Term 3/Term 4 (and 5 weeks break between Term 2 and Term 3). You complete these rotations in a ‘CPC’ group of 8-10 students. The rotations are as below:


  1.  Rural
  • Four regions – Central, North, South and West (note Cairns students are not allowed to choose a North site)
  • Each year the rural sites within each region vary and you will be able to put a preference for which site and who you would like to be with approximately 3 weeks before your rural term
  • Positives – seeing patients (histories and examinations), refining clinical skills, living in another town for 2 months
  • Negatives – keeping on top of course work completely in your own time


  1.  Private:
  • This is based at Mater Private Hospital or Cairns Private Hospital
  • Positives – teaching has been set up by many clinicians who work at the hospital, good term to practice cardiovascular histories and examinations, can scrub into surgeries as are the only medical students based in the hospital
  • Negatives – approx 20 minute drive from JCU med school with not-so accessible public transport (bus)


  1.  Public: 
  • Based at The Townsville Hospital or Cairns Hospital
  • Positives – close to med school, older students to help direct to good patients, six year and registrar mentoring
  • Negatives – must use year 4 area at JCU med school (which is also a positive!) or no area in Cairns, 4th, 5th and 6th year students slightly more competitive / restrictions associated


  1.  Clinical Investigations:
  • Consists of the clinical investigations or ‘CLIX’ exam worth 10% of the year
  • This is a 2 hour multiple choice examination on the Friday morning of Week 8
  • Throughout the term CLIX tutorial sessions are scheduled 2 or more times
  • Also have family studies lectures (2x) and male and female teaching associate programs
  • Positives – learn how to interpret ECGs, blood results and ABGs which is main stay knowledge of all doctors
  • Negatives – big exam at the end of the term but not too bad!

The general structure of each week is that there is “system based” learning and teaching which includes pathology, clinical skills and a series of clinical lectures. Each week there is also a CPC meeting which focuses on clinical problem solving. You are also expected to see patients at the hospital every day and keep a log of the patients seen.

4th year can seem overwhelming to begin with but a lot of it is about readjusting to the different structure of the previous pre-clinical years.


Recommend Textbooks
Key books to purchase are Talley and O’Connor, Underwood or Robbins and Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine (very useful). Davidson’s is also a good text to reference.
By the end of the year, you must know Talley and O’Connor inside out!

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