Specialty Areas

Disciplines & Speciality Areas

The School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) is well known for its undergraduate Joint Medical Program which is offered in partnership with the University of New England, Hunter New England Health and Central Coast Health services. We also offer a range of post graduate programs in Applied Health Management, Medical Statistics, Public Heath and Health Science.

The Discipline groups within the school contain extensive expertise and contribute to various programs and courses within the School, the Faculty, and across the University.  The SMPH Discipline leads and other experts coordinate courses and facilitate teaching on all levels.

The Joint Medical Program is the prime example where all disciplines contribute to the education of medical students.  Some of the disciplines overlap with the traditional and current medical specialties.

Specialties in Medicine

To become a specialist one must first complete a medical degree, gain experience as a junior doctor, and then undertake a training program over a number of years.  The procedure for applying and the duration of each training program varies according to the specialty.  In Australia and New Zealand each specialty training program is generally conducted by a specific college.

Anaesthetists mostly work in hospitals and day surgeries, doing a lot of their work in operating theatres. In these environments they provide care for patients before, during and after surgery. Anaesthetists administer medications that block the sensation of pain, and manage a patient's airway and circulatory system during an operation. They carefully assess a patient's requirements before an operation, and ensure a patient is stable after an operation. Anaesthetists work closely with surgeons, specialists in intensive care, nurses and other allied health practitioners. A career as an Anaesthetist also provides many opportunities for teaching and research.

The Discipline of Anaesthesia works across both teaching and research across a range of schools throughout the University of Newcastle.

In the JMP, the Discipline of Anaesthesia works closely with the Discipline of Surgery and the Discipline of Intensive Care. The academic base is at the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, with liaison throughout the Hunter New England Local Health District. Students are supported during the JMP across three strands of expertise: anaesthesia, intensive care and pain management. Anaesthesia is built on knowledge of physiology and pharmacology to understand the ways in which patient responses can be altered, and the application of providing life support.

Many of the JMP graduates go on to become Anaesthetists.

The Discipline of Clinical Pharmacology is a multidisciplinary group of experts in medicines spanning the scientific, clinical and social science aspects of medicines development, clinical trials regulation, pricing, clinical use of medicines and pharmaceutical policy. It also has extensive skills in the toxic effects of medicines, chemicals and toxins including venoms, and in clinical trials of interventions in clinical toxicology including antivenoms and antidotes. Members of the group have expertise in teaching and curriculum development in the areas of pharmacology, biological modelling, pharmacoepidemiology and pharmacoeconomics.  Projects are led by an expert in that area, thus a team leader for a specific project is a fluid concept depending on the project and skillsets required. However, specific Discipline leads are named for the administrative aspects within the School of Medicine and Public Health, the medicines teaching programme, the Pharmacoeconomic Evaluation Group, the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre and the Clinical Toxicology Research Group. It is supported by administrative and research governance support.

The Discipline is physically located at the Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital, Waratah, Newcastle, to enable close collaboration with clinical researchers in hospital policy and therapeutics. Members of the Discipline are also practicing clinicians in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Clinical Toxicology and Pharmacology. The Disciplines projects and policies span across all research programmes in the HMRI and the mass spectroscopy facility at Callaghan where our pharmacology scientists undertake work around therapeutic drug monitoring and biomarker development.

Newcastle has a long history of being a leading international site for clinical pharmacology and toxicology/toxinology policy, teaching, research and clinical service. The mission of this Discipline is to ensure this tradition continues, in addition to supporting pharmacology research and medicines questions in clinical practice and contribute to policy issues across the globe as they arise.


Professor Jenny Martin
Ph: (02) 4921 1286 or email: Jen.Martin@newcastle.edu.au

Associate Professor David Newby
Ph: (02) 4921 1277 or email: David.Newby@newcastle.edu.au

Dermatologists are specialists in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of skin disease and skin cancers. They treat patients of all ages and a wide range of skin problems including; skin cancers, acne, eczema, infections, and psoriasis.  Dermatologists employ an array of treatments, from topical and oral medications to intricate surgical procedures, lasers, light and ionising radiation. Dermatologists work in private practice, hospitals, clinics, as well as provide services to rural areas.

Dermatology teaches into a range of programs within the School of Medicine and Public Health and other schools across the university as well as providing on-going research in their field at state, federal and international levels.

The Discipline of Dermatology teaches into the Joint Medical Program (JMP) which is a jointly run medical degree offered at the University of Newcastle and University of New England.

A number of JMP graduates will go on to become Dermatologists.

Emergency Medicine specialists generally work in emergency departments of public hospitals diagnosing and managing illness and injury affecting patients of all age groups. Emergency departments are dynamic environments, requiring decisiveness, resilience, awareness of limitations and good interpersonal skills. Emergency medicine doctors have a focus on stabilising acutely unwell patients, and refer patients to other specialists when required. Emergency Medicine specialists will also provide clinical teaching, supervision and support to registrars, resident medical officers, interns, and students; arrange, consult and cooperate with other hospital staff; and initiate and implement relevant research activities.

Our discipline leaders in Emergency Medicine are active in both teaching and research across the university and are highly regarded both nationally and internationally.

In the JMP, the Discipline of Emergency Medicine works closely with all the other Disciplines. The academic base is at the Hunter Clinical School, with liaison throughout the Hunter New England Local Health District.

All of the JMP graduates will work in Emergency departments and many will go to be specialists in Emergency Medicine.

General Practitioners (GPs) play a vital role in our community with well over 80% of Australians consulting a GP each year. They diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries, provide ongoing care for chronic disease, and provide a range of preventive services. They are usually the first point of call regarding non-emergency illness or injury, and may refer patients on to other specialists once they have made their diagnosis. General Practice is a recognised medical specialty and a doctor must undertake vocational training, upon completion of an undergraduate Medicine degree, to become a qualified specialist general practitioner in Australia. An essential role of general practitioners is the continual development of their professional skills through lifelong learning.

The Discipline of General Practice is active in both teaching and on-going research across the university and health services and is highly regarded for its work in regional and rural health care. The Discipline conducts regular training workshops for GP tutors, and is heavily involved in the training program for medical graduates to become GPs.

Within the Joint Medical Program, the Discipline of General Practice teaches and trains medical students in the speciality of initiating and coordinated comprehensive medical care for individuals, families and communities.

Approximately half of the JMP graduates will become general practitioners. All of the JMP graduates in other specialties will be acquainted with primary health and community practice.

Radiologists are specialists in the fields of radiology and medical imaging (diagnostic and interventional), and radiation oncology. In preventive medicine as well as in curative medicine, effective decisions depend on correct diagnosis. Medical imaging practitioners work hospitals and imaging centres, both in public and private practise.

The Discipline of Medical Imaging relies upon the expertise of radiologists. Our discipline leads teach into a range of courses across the university and are active researchers in their field.

In the Joint Medical Program, the Discipline of Medical Imaging gives students an understanding of radiology and medical imaging, with the important role each plays in medical decision making and treatment.

A number of JMP graduates will progress into medical imaging.

The Discipline of Medicine relies upon the expertise of physicians, medical specialists who generally work in hospitals and clinics. Physicians work with a variety of health professionals caring for patients who have acute or chronic illness, requiring expertise in a range of subspecialty areas. Some of these subspecialties include; Cardiology, Clinical Haematology, Clinical Immunology, Clinical Pharmacology, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, General Medicine, Geriatric Medicine, Neurology, Respiratory Medicine.

The Discipline of Medicine works in both teaching and research across a range of schools throughout the University of Newcastle.

In the JMP, the Discipline of Medicine works closely with all the subspecialty areas in medicine, as well as the other disciplines. The academic base is at the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, with liaison throughout the Hunter New England Local Health District. Students are supported during the JMP in assessing, and managing common and important disease presentations. Medicine is built on knowledge of physiology and pharmacology, with skills in communication, physical examination and procedures.

Many of the JMP graduates go on to become Physicians.

Obstetricians and Gynaecologists work closely with GP's and Midwives to provide comprehensive care for all aspects of women's health. They provide care for women from adolescence through reproductive years and beyond, dealing with all aspects of female reproductive health from puberty to menopause.

This involves looking after pregnancy, including both normal birth and complications of pregnancy and birth. This support extends to both physical well-being and the psychosocial aspects of pregnancy and childbirth, including facilitating the active involvement of women and partners in childbirth, family planning issues and counselling in relation to prenatal loss and disabilities in the newborn. A qualification in Obstetrics and Gynaecology requires a degree in medicine as well as a further six or more years of specialised training. Opportunities are available in both large public hospitals and private practice.

The Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology provides education in the care for women across a range of courses and schools throughout the University of Newcastle. It is active in teaching and learning as well providing on-going research.

The Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology is actively involved in research through the Mothers and Babies Research Centre. It aims to address one of the Australian Government's most important national research priorities –'A Healthy Start to Life'.

In the JMP, the Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology gives students an insight into the speciality area through student placement and rotations.

Many JMP graduates will move into obstetrics and gynaecology.

Pathology is the scientific study of disease and the science behind the cure. It forms the backbone of evidence based clinical medicine. Pathologists can work in hospital settings and/ or private practise. They are required to have a basic understanding of the aetiology (cause of disease), pathogenesis (mechanism of disease development), morphologic changes (structural alterations in cells) and clinical significance (functional consequences of the morphological changes) of the pathological processes.

The Discipline of Pathology teaches across medical and health related courses across a range of schools within the University of Newcastle. Our discipline leaders are active in both teaching and research.

Pathology is essential to the study of medicine and the Discipline works closely with JMP students throughout their degree.

JMP graduates have the opportunity to move into pathology at the end of their medical degree.

Paediatrics is concerned with managing medical conditions affecting infants, children and young people. It is a large and diverse field, encompassing everything from high-technology specialties, to community-based services. Within pediatrics, specialists can work in primary care in the community and general practice settings, in secondary care, perhaps in a hospital setting or tertiary care, usually in larger district general hospitals and teaching hospitals.

The Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health provide and develop undergraduate and postgraduate education on the improvement of child health. Our leaders are active in basic, clinical and translational research programs in cross disciplinary teams. They also deliver and develop specialist services that improve the health of children, young people and their families. Our research programs are internationally recognised for their excellence. They are extramurally funded and lead to publications of highest impact. We network with other researchers on a regional, state-wide, national, and international levels.

The Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health coordinates and teaches into the Women, Adolescents, and Children's Health (WACH) course, Joint Medical Program, together with the Discipline of Gynaecology and Obstetrics in  Armidale, Gosford, Lismore, Maitland, Newcastle, Taree and Tamworth.

 In the JMP, students are introduced to this speciality area in their medical degree and many of our graduates will move into this highly regarded field.

Psychiatrists are qualified medical doctors with both medical and psychiatric training who specialise in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental, behavioural and emotional disorders. Psychiatrists treat mental illness which encompasses conditions such as anxiety disorders, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, substance abuse and personality disorders.

Psychiatrists focus holistically on the patient's body and mind and are trained to recognise and treat the effects of emotional disturbances on the body as a whole, as well as the effects of physical conditions on the mind. Treatment methods can be physical, psychological, involve medication, or a combination of these. Psychiatrists will work in a variety of settings, including general and psychiatric hospitals, universities, community health services and public and private clinics. Psychiatrists are able to gain additional training and experience to specialise in areas such as child and adolescent psychiatry, consultation-liaison psychiatry, psychiatry of old age, forensic psychiatry, psychotherapy.

The Discipline of Psychiatry teaches across a wide range of programs and schools within the University of Newcastle. Our leaders are recognised for their extensive research in this field both nationally and internationally.

The Discipline of Psychiatry teaches into the five-year Joint Medical Program which is offered by both the University of Newcastle and the University of New England.

Many of the JMP graduates pursue careers in Psychiatry.

Whilst medicine is focused on treating patients, public health is concerned with improving the health of large numbers of people and communities. Public health specialists are committed to prevention rather than cure. By this, we are referring to the promotion of healthy lifestyles, disease prevention, improvement of health care services and general health of communities. Public health practitioners work in a range of settings and communities across the globe.

Teaching and research is a core focus of the Discipline of Public Health. It is committed to teaching and research across a number of programs and schools within the University of Newcastle. Our leaders are recognised both nationally and internationally for their work in this field.

The Discipline of Public Health teaches into the Joint Medical Program which is offered by the University of Newcastle and University of New England. Many of our graduates will go on to careers in public health.

JMP graduates will often choose to move into public health.

Surgeons operate on patients to correct deformities, repair injuries, prevent and treat diseases and improve human body functions and appearance. As well as performing surgical operations, surgeons must consult with a range of other medical professionals, provide advice and explanations to patients, and maintain records.  Surgeons manage patients who are acutely unwell, and an also patients who present for elective surgery. The role of surgeons includes preparing patients for surgery, conducting surgical procedures, and managing patients in the post-operative phase.

Surgeons work in a variety of fields in public and private hospitals and, among a range of specialties and sub-specialties, including urology, plastic and reconstructive surgery, paediatric surgery, cardiothoracic, neurosurgery, orthopaedic, vascular and general surgery.

The Discipline of Surgery contributes significantly to the Joint Medical Program. The JMP Bachelor of Medicine is equally focussed on the disciplines of medicine and surgery, and it is equivalent to an MBBS qualification. Students in the JMP learn surgical competency through problem based learning, self-directed learning, hospital based placements, and simulation.

All of our JMP graduates will work in surgery, and many will go on to become surgeons in a range of areas.


The Clinical Unit in Ethics and Health Law (CUEHL) is a coalition of interested professionals from multiple disciplines including law, medicine, nursing, allied health, philosophy and sociology.

Medical students and professionals have the opportunity to attend regular forums hosted by the Discipline of Clinical Ethics and Health Law. 

Issues covered include legal and ethical concepts that medical students and practitioners must understand, controversial ethical dilemmas, the philosophical underpinning of our moral beliefs and professional behaviour issues where a doctor's own interests may conflict with those of his or her patients.

Health Behaviour Sciences (HBS) focuses on the knowledge and skills relevant to the understanding of health and illness, and the application of this knowledge to prevention, promotion, treatment and rehabilitation.  Professionals in this field work in a variety of settings both in the community and medical facilities. Rather than being concerned with any one specific disease or population, HBS professionals make a significant contribution at primary, secondary and tertiary levels of prevention or intervention. Key concerns are events relating to individual and population health and illness, the health care system, and the behaviour of health providers and patients.

The Discipline of Health Behaviour Sciences is a foundation discipline in the medical program and teaches into the Joint Medical Program, co-ordinating aspects of clinical communication skills such as building a therapeutic relationship, sexuality and counselling, end of life planning and changing unhealthy behaviours such as smoking and alcohol use.

The Discipline offers a range of other courses at the University of Newcastle including health and behavioural sciences for students studying to be early childhood, primary and secondary teachers, undergraduate public health courses for all students and post graduate Health Promotion courses in the Masters of Public Health.

High quality on-going behavioural science research in diverse areas such as improving the quality of health care, reducing alcohol, tobacco use and harm associated with inactivity and obesity is being carried out.

Indigenous doctors are highly sought after in Australian communities and have a role not only in improving the health disparities of our society, but being advocates for health and education in Indigenous communities. At the University of Newcastle, Indigenous medicine has become a specialty in its own right.

The main role of the Discipline of Indigenous Health is to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students through the Indigenous Medical Entry Program. Staff provide academic, social and cultural support to students and are active in the development of the Indigenous health curriculum.

The Joint Medical Program believes doctors must understand the history of Indigenous Australia in order to overcome social and cultural barriers to improving the health of Indigenous people. The Discipline of Indigenous Health teaches into many parts of the medical program to engage all students with Indigenous issues.

We are proud to claim that we have graduated almost half the national total of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors. The JMP dedicates up to 16 places each year for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students across the University of Newcastle and the University of New England.

Medical education is an important and expanding field that covers all aspects of educating medical students and doctors. The Discipline of Medical Education brings expertise in the areas of learning methods, educational design, assessment techniques, and the alignment of each. It is committed to quality assurance and accreditation of the JMP, and continuous improvement of all aspects of teaching and learning.

The Discipline of Medical Education is an integral part of the Joint Medical Program, as well as postgraduate programs offered by the School. It is committed to teaching across a range of health related courses at the University of Newcastle and is active in the area of medical educational research and various teaching methodologies.

In the JMP, the Discipline of Medical Education is committed to teaching students the value of on-going medical education throughout their career. Some of our graduates will move into the field of medical education.