Message from Geoff McColl Head of Melbourne Medical School

I was reminded of the privilege of working in the Melbourne Medical School at the University of Melbourne at the recent Open Day.  Although the weather was its traditional cold and wet I saw the University, its educational offerings and resources through the eyes of thousands of prospective students and their parents.  They were excited and in awe of things which I generally take for granted.  It was a good day to reflect on what we have rather than on what is absent.  Open Day was, as always, a military operation and I would like to thank all the students, professional and academic staff who participated in inspiring and educating that throng of enthusiastic faces. 

Winston Churchill was quoted as saying “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often”. If this is true then we must be approaching perfection as there is a great deal of change in the Melbourne Medical School and beyond.  I will start this newsletter with a report of some of the changes.  The new Dean, Professor Shitij Kapur, will commence in November and has already spent a great deal of time trying to understand the complex context of the Faculty and the Melbourne Medical School.  We are all looking forward to his arrival and anticipate the change that comes from seeing our enterprise through fresh eyes.

Professor Paul Monagle recently stood down as the Stevenson Chair of Paediatrics and Head of the Department of Paediatrics at the Royal Children’s Hospital.  I thank Paul for his eight years of outstanding service in this position and wish him well in his next academic phase in an ongoing role within the Department of Paediatrics.  I am delighted that Professor Julie Bines has agreed to act as Head of the Department of Paediatrics while we appoint a new Stevenson’s Professor.

It has been exciting to watch the commissioning of the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) building over recent months.  Many Melbourne Medical School staff, including Professor Sean Grimmond, have finally taken up residence in this highly contemporary and functional building. The next task is to optimise all of the connections within and outside the building to ensure the VCCC vision is achieved.

Recent events with our students have again reminded us of the importance of maintaining their wellbeing. I am delighted to announce the appointment of two health and wellbeing practitioners for the MMS, Ms Danielle Clayman and Ms Hannah Sloan.  They will join with other professional and academic staff team to support our students and triage them to the appropriate services.  Please remember if you have any concern about a student there are many resources for you to access help.

I again attended the MD student conference at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre this year. As you are all aware this brings together the entire MD cohort of 1400 students in a conference format to complete a program developed and implemented by their fellow students.  I was again impressed by the breadth and rigor of the program offered and I congratulate the students on their work.

The honorary staff of the Melbourne Medical School are key to achieving our mission of improving health and advancing health care through our teaching, learning, research, clinical care and advocacy.  In recent times the School Executive has commissioned work led by Professor Paul Monagle, Ms Denise Dwyer and Ms Jill McGarry to reform and refine our honorary appointment and reappointment processes.  This work is nearing completion and will be promoted shortly. At the centre of the new policy is a clearer relationship of mutual obligation between the University and our valuable honorary staff.

I close this newsletter by again thanking you all for your invaluable work – the Melbourne Medical School is nothing without its people.