Medical students win award for palliative care

Mary Potter Medal recipients Catherine Chesterman and Brenton Systermans pictured with Dr Greg Crawford.

Mary Potter Medal recipients Catherine Chesterman and Brenton Systermans pictured with Dr Greg Crawford.
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Monday, 21 December 2009

Two University of Adelaide final year medical students have been awarded an Australia-first medal and $1000 each for their work with patients suffering an advanced terminal illness.

Brenton Systermans and Catherine Chesterman are the inaugural recipients of the Mary Potter Medal for Palliative Care, introduced to help build awareness and encourage medical students to pursue a career in this specialised field.

The new award is funded by the Mary Potter Foundation - the fundraising arm of the nationally-renowned Mary Potter Hospice - and is part of a collaborative arrangement with the University of Adelaide, whose medical students undertake clinical attachments in a hospice during their training.

Mary Potter Foundation Chairman Danny Watson said palliative care was becoming an increasingly important form of health care as our society ages.

"South Australia has an enviable reputation for being a pioneer in palliative care excellence and training in this country," he said. "We hope the awards will help attract more students to enter this highly-specialised and dedicated field, which is predicted to grow substantially in the next decade."

Mr Watson said this was the first time awards of this calibre had been established at university level anywhere in Australia.

In 2007 the University of Adelaide and the Mary Potter Foundation jointly funded the Mary Potter Senior Lectureship in Palliative Care, which is held by Dr Greg Crawford.

A Mary Potter Palliative Care Nursing Fellowship has also recently been announced, with the successful applicant expected to be appointed in 2010.

The Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Adelaide, Professor Justin Beilby, said the alliance - believed to be the first of its kind in Australia - provided a wonderful opportunity not only for enhanced clinical training in palliative care, but also for research in this area.

"The University has a long and proud record in research and education in the Health Sciences and these two collaborations with the Mary Potter Foundation represent an important contribution to the Discipline of Palliative Care," Professor Beilby said.

One of the medal recipients, Catherine Chesterman, said she was honoured by the award and hoped to eventually pursue a career in palliative medicine, which she described as "inspirational".


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