The James Cook University's Pharmacy expansion effort


​Budding pharmacists will be able to study in Cairns and Mackay from next year, with James Cook University expanding its Pharmacy program.

James Cook University (JCU) is currently expanding the BPharm undergraduate degree to regional areas such as Cairns and Mackay from February 2021 where they would operate to engage pharmacy students in these areas who otherwise wouldn't be able to undertake this degree in Townsville or Brisbane. The aim is then to retain these students once they graduate in Mackay, Cairns and the surrounding communities to ensure our pharmacy workforce is sustainable for the future.

"Do you have someone in your wider professional or social networks who would benefit from this opportunity? JCU are looking at students who for financial or family and personal reasons cannot afford to go to University in Townsville and Brisbane but are interested in Pharmacy as a career pathway or who would prefer to stay in Mackay and Cairns now this is an option. For Pharmacy Assistants who have always wanted to study pharmacy but due to family commitments, time and financial reasons again could never relocate. I think we all know at least one person this could benefit and be of interest to. Please share this information with anyone you think would consider this new opportunity," requests Tegan Stark, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) QLD Branch Committee Member and PSA QLD ECPWG Member.

They can access information pertaining to the course and register an interest here:

“Where previously students had to relocate to Townsville to study the Bachelor of Pharmacy on campus, from next year they will be able to choose from three locations,” Head of JCU Pharmacy, Associate Professor John Smithson, said.

The course will be taught through a mix of online and on-campus sessions.

“Flexible delivery means everyone, from school leavers to those planning a career change while balancing work and family, will be able to complete this degree in Mackay and Cairns,” Associate Professor Smithson said.

“This is a big step forward for the profession, making it possible to train pharmacists in the regions that need them most.”

Cairns pharmacist Nick Loukas, Chair of JCU’s Pharmacy Advisory Committee, said Pharmacy’s expansion opens more doors for those wanting to stay in the region.

“This new offering means we can grow our own pharmacy professionals to help fill the shortages,” Mr Loukas said. “There are many opportunities for graduate pharmacists in our region and with the extended scope of practice now available, it’s a rewarding career.”

Mackay pharmacist and director of Northside Chemist David Aprile has welcomed the initiative and anticipated boost for the future of the pharmacy workforce in Mackay.

“Attracting pharmacists or indeed allied health workers in general to this region has always been a challenge,” he said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the reality of that shortfall and demonstrated the real need for an increased pharmacist workforce to meet the demand going forward.”

Associate Professor Smithson said pharmacy is a diverse career that plays an important part in keeping communities healthy.

“There are so many things you can do, from community pharmacy – educating and advising people on their medications, performing vaccinations and health checks – to hospital pharmacy, cancer specialists, Defence Force pharmacy and even medicines development and research,” he said.

“If you have an interest in health and a passion for helping people, a pharmacy career could be for you.”

Find out more about studying Pharmacy with JCU at

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