18 December 2003

Dr George Forgan-Smith has two excellent reasons to be singing — he is about to graduate with his medical degree from The University of Queensland and was among the first members of the acclaimed group “The Ten Tenors”.

Also a long-time singer with the Queensland Opera Company, Dr Forgan-Smith said he would probably be humming tunes from favourite operas such as Madam Butterfly and Carmen in the lifts at Logan Hospital next year.

The Ten Tenors perform in the music hall tradition, and together have a broad training in opera, music theatre and theatre. In 2002, they extensively toured Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Australia. This year, they performed in the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe.

In 2002, Dr Forgan-Smith took a year off his Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery studies to perform with The Ten Tenors both here and overseas but recently left the group because of his busy schedule.

His graduation ceremony at 3pm on Friday, December 19 in the new UQ Centre will also feature graduates from the Schools of Dentistry and Pharmacy while a later, Health Sciences Faculty graduation at 6pm will feature graduates from the Schools of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences; Human Movement Studies; and Population Health.

School of Medicine Head Professor Ken Donald said Dr Forgan-Smith was one example of the changing face of young medical students.

“The traditional medical student hailing from a strong science background is now being joined by students from a range of disciplines, interests and influences thanks to the Graduate Entry Program introduced six years ago,” he said.

“UQ is now turning out doctors with improved communication skills and a better understanding of both patients and an increasingly complex world.”

Dr Forgan-Smith’s family has strong UQ connections with the main Great Court building named after his Great-Grandfather who was Premier of Queensland from 1932 until 1942. Both George’s father, Ross, and uncle, Jeffrey, graduated from the UQ Medical School, working as a pathologist and physician respectively.

“There was a definite medical flavour to my upbringing. Getting a day off school was not easy as it usually involved the taking of blood just to make sure,” Dr Forgan-Smith joked.

Family also played an important role in his singing: “My grandmother often harassed me to sing for her and at Brisbane Grammar School, I was not doing so well in history so dropped it for singing. This was when I was ‘discovered’ by my music teacher,” he said.

His singing was recognised with a Centenary Medal in 2003 and is a major source of relaxation for him, he said.

As far as medicine was concerned, Dr Forgan-Smith said he was interested in a career in radiology as it was a way he could combine his other interest of computing. He said he was also keen on anaesthetics and psychiatry.

“I would like to combine these two areas to assist people living with chronic pain. My mother died from Lupus (an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own connective tissues leading to problems with almost all systems of the body, from swollen painful joints to problems with the heart and kidneys) in 1997 so this has given me insight into the daily struggle with this tragic disease,” he said.

Media contacts: Dr Forgan-Smith (telephone 07 3315 2654, mobile 0408 159 418 or email gefsmith@mac.com); The Ten Tenors website: www.thetentenors.com; Lynda Flower at UQ Communications (telephone 07 3365 2339, email l.flower@uq.edu.au); or Shirley Glaister at UQ Communications (telephone 07 3720 8508, email s.glaister@uq.edu.au).