Fifty years of Medicine at Monash celebrated in style at the Melbourne Cricket Ground

They travelled from as far as Kentucky in the United States to reconnect with peers, reminisce about the past and even play a game of trivia. More than half of the inaugural graduates from Monash’s School of Medicine joined close to 300 fellow MBBS graduates at the course’s 50th anniversary celebrations held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) last Saturday. Moderated by MBBS alumna, GP and high profile media presenter, Dr Sally Cockburn together with one of Australia’s most senior specialist sports physicians, MBBS alumnus Dr Peter Larkins, the event was a great success.

Renowned Emeritus Professor John Murtagh welcomed all guests and reflected on what it was like to be part of the pioneering group of graduates, many of whom have made significant contributions to the medical field since graduating in 1966. In December that year, 29 students completed the new course, which was established in 1961, with an intake of 115 students. A further four students graduated a year later with a Bachelor of Medical Science (Honours).

The Monash Medical Orchestra put on a great performance on the night. “It is such an honour to be here and perform on this very special occasion”, says cello player and MBBS student Charlotte O’Leary. About to complete her fourth year, Charlotte will be leaving for Geneva in December to undertake an internship with the World Health Organisation, before embarking on a research project at Oxford University as part of the Bachelor of Medical Science. She doesn’t hesitate when asked who has inspired her most throughout the course: “Definitely the Deputy Dean of the MBBS, Professor Michelle Leech. She is so genuine and her door is always open for everyone. She is also very supportive of the orchestra and comes to every concert despite her incredibly busy schedule.”

Professor Christine McDonald, a graduate from the 1976 cohort and now Director of the Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine at Austin Health, also highlights the excellent teaching staff as one of the best things about being a Monash graduate. “The Monash medical course provided a wonderful bedrock for my career. I am particularly grateful for the full breadth of clinical medicine that I was exposed to including excellent clinical rotations in General Practice, Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Psychiatry. I have been privileged to have been taught by outstanding academics and clinicians. They have enabled me to treat thousands of patients to the best of my ability and to follow the lead of my mentors by being an active and ever-curious researcher.”

When asked what advice she would give to today’s first year students she says: “The most important thing you can do is really listen to your patients. Never forget that it's a privilege to be able to learn from your patients about their lives and to have them share their confidences with you. They have put their future well-being in your hands. Make sure that you really "hear" their stories and respond to their needs to the best of your professional capabilities.”

The celebrations ended with young and old on the dance floor singing along with the Mike Brady Band until late into the night.