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Campus News : December 2010
2 Campus News December 2010 University of Wollongong www.uow.edu.au OPINION This month's graduation of the first cohort of students from our Graduate School of Medicine (GSM) is a highly significant and historic occasion. Foremost it is a time of great excitement and sense of accomplishment for the pioneering graduates of our innovative medical degree. Congratulations to the first students to successfully complete the four-year course, and to the GSM staff and hospital and community-based clinicians who guided them through. It is also highly significant for the University of Wollongong, for the Illawarra and Shoalhaven and for regional NSW in general. Our medical school was established at UOW's Wollongong and Shoalhaven campuses with a prime focus on training general practitioners and specialists to work in regional and rural areas -- to address a critical shortage of medical practitioners outside the capital cities. In 2004 the then Prime Minister John Howard embraced our model, and gave us the green light (and all-important funding) to develop our concept. The result is a medical school that is unique in Australia, and for that I pay tribute to the vision of the University's Pro Vice-Chancellor (Health) Professor Don Iverson. He took the best elements of successful medical schools around the world, and created a mosaic that would fulfil our charter to train doctors equipped to work in regional and rural areas. Professor Iverson has driven the development of the GSM, ably assisted by Foundation Dean Professor John Hogg, who did such an admirable job of setting up the school and ensuring it would be embraced and supported by the Illawarra medical fraternity, and his successor as Dean Professor Liz Farmer. They and the GSM staff deserve great credit for the successful graduation of this year's first cohort, as do the medical practitioners in the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and other parts of regional NSW who have so willingly provided clinical training opportunities for our students. Our medical students spend 12 months in these clinical placements during Phase 3 of their studies. We trust that the relationships and bonds that develop between our students and the practitioners and communities where they train will result in many returning to these areas to practise medicine in the years to come. Obviously training doctors is the prime purpose of a medical school, but here in the Illawarra the GSM is fulfilling two other important roles -- helping to expand health and medical research and attracting new specialists and GPs to the region because they want to be involved with the medical school and our research programs. Using the GSM as a catalyst to expand our research programs has been an essential part of our model for the medical school. This has been achieved through the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI), which UOW has established in partnership with the South Eastern Sydney and Illawarra Area Health Service. Over time, the medical practitioners attracted to the region, research carried out at IHMRI and, of course, our GSM-trained doctors, will have a significant impact on health care in the Illawarra community. This year the University took another important step in the development of the region's health care, with the release of our proposal for a $300 million health and medical precinct for Wollongong. Before the first students started at the GSM in 2007, Professor Iverson publicly predicted that over time the medical school would prove itself to be the biggest single contribution that UOW would make to its community, by providing a quantum leap in the standard of medical care available in the region. IHMRI and our proposed hospital are a direct consequence of the establishment of the GSM, and will go a long way towards helping to fulfil Professor Iverson's prediction. But the foundation of any health care system is the quality and training of the people who work in it. I have no doubt that UOW's medical graduates will prove themselves second to none, and look forward with great anticipation to the contribution this graduating cohort and those who follow will make to the communities in which they work. GS GSM is fulfilling its vision The University of Wollongong's Graduate School of Medicine is celebrating the graduation of its first cohort of students. VICE-CHANCELLOR PROFESSOR GERARD SUTTON writes that the GSM is fulfilling its vision: Murray Campbell says it has been a privilege to be part of the pioneering first cohort of students to graduate from UOW's Graduate School of Medicine, paying tribute to the GSM staff, Illawarra medical fraternity and patient volunteers for making the experience so special. "The excitement of the staff has been wonderful from the beginning," Murray said. "The Illawarra medical community has also worked really hard to make sure the school succeeds. They've been so generous with their time to help us, while the community excitement has also been really encouraging. "We've been able to work with wonderful Pioneer says 'it's been a privilege' patient volunteers at the medical school, who have given us valuable feedback, while patients that we've seen in the local hospitals and GP clinics have known all about the uni and the medical school, and have been keen to help us learn. "(Studying) Medicine makes a lot more sense when you see it in context, and the input from the volunteers and patients has been so important in our skills development." Murray said he had enjoyed the diversity of the first cohort of medical students. "We all came from different backgrounds, with different skills, which has made it Murray Campbell and his wife Angela have had three children during Murray's four-year medical degree. They are pictured with sons (from left) Liam 31/2, Hamish 11/2 and Angus, who was born in November. MEDICAL SCHOOL CELEBRATES