Flinders University celebrates 50 years of medicine

Flinders University is celebrating 50 years of delivering medical training to generations of doctors who are caring for patients, advancing research, transforming healthcare and educating the next cohort of medical professionals.

Since its establishment, Flinders University’s medical program has grown from an initial intake of 64 students in 1974 to become one of the most diverse medical programs in Australia, home to more than 700 students.

This year also marks the historic collaboration between the University and Flinders Medical Centre (FMC). FMC was the nation’s first purpose-built academic medical centre that integrated with a medical school.

Over the last 50 years Flinders University’s medical program has gained international recognition for its teaching, research and clinical practice says Professor Jonathan Craig, Vice President and Executive Dean, College of Medicine and Public Health.

“We were the first University in Australia to integrate a medical school and hospital and leverage the symbiotic relationship between the two,” says Professor Craig.

“This relationship, based on co-location and inter-connectedness of research, education and clinical care, has now been replicated across all our sites in South Australia and the Northern Territory, and includes partnerships with many local health networks, hospitals and primary care practices,” he says.

Vice Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling says that the University is proud to be a world class destination for health and medical education and research.

“I’m extremely proud of the medical program’s 50-year milestone. Flinders University has made outstanding contributions to improving the health of communities in local, regional and remote areas of South Australia, the Northern Territory and beyond.

“We will continue to build on our outstanding record as a pioneer in integrated health education and research, focusing on real-world improvements in health and wellbeing for all Australians – no matter where they live,” he says.

SALHN CEO, Professor Kerrie Freeman congratulated Flinders University on 50 Years of Medicine.

“Flinders Medical Centre shares a proud history with Flinders University – and we continue to share a common goal towards providing world leading education and healthcare to benefit South Australians’ health and wellbeing for years to come,” says Professor Freeman.

Professor Jonathan Craig says that medicine has moved ahead at a pace perhaps never seen before.

“Advances in technology, chemistry and biology, along with breakthroughs such as immune therapy, gene therapy, genomics, molecular techniques, new platforms for vaccination such as mRNA technology and minimally invasive surgery have revolutionised our ability to improve and extend human life,” says Professor Craig.

“Accordingly, our curriculum has transformed and innovated to keep pace, all backed by our core mission to train medical practitioners and researchers who can have a profound impact on healthcare in Australia and globally.”

The University’s medical program has been at the forefront of innovation in medical education since its inauguration. In 1996 it became the first in Australia to offer a four-year graduate-entry medical program as an alternative to the traditional undergraduate courses.

In 2011, it was the first in Australia to offer a full medical program in a rural and remote setting, in the Northern Territory, and remains the only local medical program in the NT. In 2025 the Rural SA Medical School will commence, with around 40 students enrolled.

“One of our great strengths is having a considerable presence in rural and remote communities throughout South Australia and the NT,” says Professor Craig.

“Our geographic footprint – covering a network of campuses across regional South Australia and through central Australia to Darwin – is a defining feature of our medical program allowing us to deliver regional academic programs and research supporting some of the most under-served communities in Australia.

“A major aim of the Northern Territory Medical Program (NTMP) is to train people from the Territory, in the Territory, and to stay and work in the Territory. We also recognise that training more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to become doctors is a critical part of the Closing the Gap initiative,” he added.

Professor Marco Briceno, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NT Health says the University has had a huge impact on NT medical workforce.

“I have a strong passion for medical education and have witnessed the growth and strength of the University’s Northern Territory Medical Program.  Education and training are the lifeblood of developing great health services here, and the ongoing success of the NTMP helps us achieve better health outcomes for all Territorians,” he says.

As it passes this half century milestone Flinders University looks forward to a new Health and Medical Research Building (HMRB), a defining achievement and another significant milestone in the University’s history.

“Building on more than 50 years of exceptional health and medical teaching and research, the HMRB is a once-in-a-generation initiative that will transform how we understand, diagnose and treat illness,” says Professor Craig.

Flinders University will celebrate ‘50 years of Medicine’ at a Gala Dinner on Saturday 19 October at the Adelaide Oval to showcase key historic research and acknowledge the achievements of alumni and staff, past and present.

For more information: 50 years of medicine.

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