30 November 2006

For once, there won’t be a football in sight when University of Queensland medical student and international rugby union star, John Roe, takes the stage.

The only screaming fans will be his family and instead of a winner’s trophy, the Queensland Reds captain will receive his medical graduation award.

John has taken eight years to complete the normally four-year MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) due to professional rugby commitments. John has played 19 tests for Australia and recently captained the Prime Minister’s XV in Japan.

He began studying medicine at UQ in 1998, but due to international playing commitments and a contract with the Queensland Reds, he deferred his study for 18 months in 2000 and then completed the degree as his playing commitments would allow.

John often spent some of his free time on tour, reading medical books to try to maintain his level of knowledge and skills.

“The lack of continuity, made returning to study difficult. There was always a new group of students and complex subject matter. I often needed to relearn information and skills,” he said.

Extra proud on graduation day will be John’s wife Kate, whom he met at medical school and who graduated with John’s initial class of students in 2001. Kate is now training to become a general practitioner. They have a 17 month-old-son, Alexander.

While the 29-year-old back rower is considered the “old man” of rugby by his team mates, his medical opinion is that his body is “holding up pretty well”. John’s future in medicine may involve studying surgery, but there is another year left on his Reds contract before he considers pursuing further medical training.

UQ’s School of Medicine is no stranger to combining football and medicine. Head of the School of Medicine, Professor Ken Donald, 70, who retires at the end of this year, is a former Wallaby. Professor Donald played Wing for Australia in the Years 1957-59, playing in 10 Tests.

John will graduate with a cohort of 230 MBBS students. The School of Medicine graduation ceremony will be held at 2pm on Friday, December 15 at the UQ Centre, St Lucia Campus.

• Also graduating with an MBBS will be Liz Hodge, who is the daughter of Dr Zelle Hodge, Australian Medical Association of Queensland (AMAQ) president and Dr Robert Hodge, a former AMAQ president.
• Higher doctorates (Doctor of Medicine) will be awarded to Professor Wayne Gibbon and Professor William Coman.


• 79 Dentistry students will join medical graduates at the December 15 ceremony.
• Professor Stephen Duckett, head of the Reform Team for Queensland Health, is guest speaker for the December 15 ceremony.
• Other Faculty of Health Sciences graduations are:
➢ School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences (363**)– Friday, December 8, at 6pm. Guest speaker will be Director of the Australian Stuttering Research Centre, Professor Mark Onslow.
➢ Human Movement Studies (85), Pharmacy (148) and Population Health (44)– Wednesday, December 6 at 11am.
• An Honorary Doctor of Science will be awarded to Emeritus Professor Lloyd Sansom, AO, at the above ceremony. He has held academic posts in the discipline of pharmacy for more than 40 years and has played a key role in the development of national pharmaceutical policy.
➢ Nursing – Monday, December 11, 7pm, Ipswich Civic Hall.

* Figures include undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students.
** Includes Occupational Therapy (102), Physiotherapy (163), Speech Pathology (70), Audiology (27).

Media inquiries: Marlene McKendry, Health Sciences Communications (0401 996 847).