16 November 2012

The University of Queensland’s School of Medicine has celebrated the coming graduation of its inaugural UQ-Ochsner class of nine medical students, who have been trained in two continents, at a culmination celebration.

The American medical students will be graduating from a partnership program between UQ and the Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, USA.

Students complete the first two years at UQ and the final two years at UQ's Ochsner Clinical School in the USA.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj attended the celebration to congratulate the students, who he said would be ‘remembered as pioneers’ of Australia’s first university medical clinical school in the USA.

“The successful students’ reward is even more than a degree from UQ (one of the world’s top 100 universities), because you also have international experience that likely will enhance your ability to care for a large range of patients and impress prospective employers,” Professor Høj said.

“You are well on your way to be authentically global doctors, who can respond to society’s needs in a variety of challenging settings,” he said.

Professor David Wilkinson, UQ’s Dean of Medicine and Head of School calls this a landmark occasion in global medical education and is delighted with the progress made by these pathfinder students.

Professor William Pinsky, Head of the UQ Ochsner Clinical School and Ochsner Health System Executive Vice-President and Chief Academic Officer said he was extremely proud of these students.

“They have been part of a truly exceptional learning experience in which they were able to benefit from some of the best medical education opportunities available in two of the world’s leading nations,” Professor Pinsky said.

The inaugural class have preformed extremely well in the United States Medical Licensing Examination, USMLE, with scores at or above the national average of American medical students.

This high performance has made them very competitive, with students receiving residency interviews at many prestigious institutions such as Ochsner Medical Center, Yale, Albert Einstein Medical Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, Indiana University, Emory University, Dartmouth, and the University of Texas.

Two students have also been offered internships here in Australia.

Graduating medical student, Emily Sineway Boyd describes her experience as being very unique and rewarding adventure.

“Studying medicine in Australia was incredibly exciting, and then being able to come home to the United States and complete my clinical rotations here at Ochsner, in this welcoming and familiar environment, with such a devoted and engaging staff, was the perfect culmination to my medical school experience,” Ms Boyd said.

Fellow graduate Ross Hoffmann said the program had prepared him well for a career in medicine.

“I am grateful to have had a global learning experience, and to have followed an enterprising new path in my career," he said.

UQ and Ochsner announced this joint affiliation in 2008, since then 171 students have been admitted to the program and 254 ‘traditional’ UQ medical students have travelled to Ochsner during their medical degree.

‘Traditional’ UQ medical students are allowed to complete up to three rotations, six months, at Ochsner benefitting from a variety of medical specialties, research and core rotations.

“This is a valuable experience for our ‘traditional’ medical students,” Professor Wilkinson said.

“Having these opportunities for our students is why we call ourselves Australia’s Global Medical School,” he said.

There are future plans to deepen the partnership by strengthening research links through collaboration between research groups in UQ and Ochsner and through research opportunities for the School’s medical students.

The class recited the Hippocratic Oath marking their entry into the medical profession as physicians at a culmination celebration on Saturday 17 November in New Orleans, with their official graduation on Saturday 15 December.

Media: Brian Mallon, Communication Officer School of Medicine, +61 40 362 1109/07 3365 5254 b.mallon@uq.edu.au or Jen Nielsen, Associate Director (Education), Washington Office, +1 202 957 7207 jen.nielsen@uq.edu.au

About UQ
The University of Queensland (UQ) is one of Australia's premier learning and research institutions. UQ is Queensland's oldest university and has produced more than 197,000 graduates since opening in 1911. Today, UQ has almost 44,000 students who study across its four main campuses in southeast Queensland: St Lucia, Ipswich, Gatton and Herston. Measured through a combination of three key global university rankings — The Times Higher Education, the QS World University and the Academic Ranking of World Universities — UQ is currently ranked in the top 100 of all universities worldwide. UQ is a founding member of the national Group of Eight (Go8) - a coalition of leading Australian universities.

About Ochsner Health System
Ochsner Health System is southeast Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic, multi-specialty, healthcare delivery system with eight hospitals and over 38 health centers in Louisiana. Ochsner has been named the Consumer Choice for Healthcare in New Orleans for 16 consecutive years and is the only Louisiana hospital nationally recognised by U.S. News and World Report as a “Best Hospital” across eleven specialty categories. Ochsner employs more than 13,000 employees, over 850 physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties and conducts over 300 clinical research trials annually. For more information, please visit ochsner.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.