This year’s medical graduates, affectionately known as “The Bulge” because they are the biggest cohort to date, are the 50th group to emerge from the Medical School as qualified physicians.
There are 197 graduates this year compared with 15 who attended their dedication ceremony in December 1959.
Faculty Dean Winthrop Professor Ian Puddey told the guests at this year’s dedication ceremony held in Winthrop Hall last month he was delighted that eight of the inaugural students were present and acknowledged their 50 years of contribution and service to the community. They were Adjunct Professor Bryant Stokes, Emeritus Professor Con Michael, Dr Malcolm Hay, Dr Neil Fitch, Dr John Hanrahan, Dr Owen Isbel, Dr Mashie Levi and Dr Isaac Raiter.
“The roll call of alumni since these inaugural graduates now includes many distinguished colleagues, global, national, and international, who have served our profession and community with distinction and in so doing have brought considerable prestige to the University of Western Australia and the Medical School,” Professor Puddey said.
They include a Nobel Laureate, Professor Barry Marshall, and an Australian of the Year, Professor Fiona Stanley.
Professor Puddey said this year’s graduates brought the total to 4017 since the Medical School’s inception.
“Moreover, we began our graduate entry course in 2005 so today the first of our graduate entrants to the academic course completed their studies at UWA and of course they are the harbinger of the changes to come,” he said. “In 2014, UWA will be moving to an entirely graduate entry program.”
Adjunct Professor Bryant Stokes, who gave the Occasional Address, told the graduates they would face many challenges, including the rising cost of health care which was becoming unsustainable and which would require them to work in more productive and smarter ways while maintaining the best and safest practice for their patients.
“There will be more and more intrusion by Government on how healthcare is delivered and this is not unreasonable as Government in the long run pays the bills one way or another,” he said. “We must be able to respond safely and appropriately to this challenge.”
The fact that patients were well informed about their medical conditions, largely due to the blossoming of information on the internet, could also prove challenging, he said.
“They will demand answers –and rightly so—which will often tax your ability to respond and communicate effectively,” he told the graduates.
In another arena, as knowledge expanded to the cellular and gene level in the treatment of disease with, for example, stem cell research, the new graduates would face many issues including those of an ethical nature, he said.
Faculty Manager Ms Susan Henshall read the names of the prize winners and Associate Professor Rosanna Capolingua – whose daughter was one of the graduates – presented the Australian Medical Association (WA) gold medal and bronze bust of Hippocrates to the student with the highest marks in each year of the six-year course, Nicholas Copertino.