Study awards lift interest
SOUTH Australia has furthered its place as a national pioneer in palliative care training with a new award being presented for students excelling in the field.
The University of Adelaide and Mary Potter Foundation presented the inaugural Mary Potter Medal for Palliative Care to two final-year medical students last month.
Brenton Systermans and Catherine Chesterman were recommended for the award by senior palliative medicine teachers at the University of Adelaide because of their excellence in working with patients with life-limiting illnesses.
Palliative care provides for the physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs of the terminally ill, as well as their families.
The medal, which comes with a $1000 prize, is funded by the Mary Potter Foundation.
It was established in 1987 as the fundraising arm of the nationally renowned Mary Potter Hospice, which joined with the university to provide the award. The hospice, at Calvary Hospital, North Adelaide, is the largest purpose-built palliative care unit in the state and the only private one.
Patients are admitted when intensive nursing support, symptom relief or pain control is needed or when home carers need a rest.
All University of Adelaide medical students must complete a clinical attachment in a hospice during their training. The award was introduced to increase awareness of palliative care as a specialist medical practice.
Mary Potter Foundation chairman Danny Watson said palliative care was increasing in importance because of the ageing community and specialised staff would be in high demand in the next decade.
‘‘As a nation, we need to attract more dedicated professionals to this crucial area now so we can cope with the increasing demand that is already apparent,’’ he said.
‘‘We believe the medal is a step in that direction.’’
He said the state already had an enviable reputation in Australia for being a pioneer in palliative care excellence and training.
‘‘The awards are another example of that glowing endorsement,’’ he said.
‘‘To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time awards of this calibre have been awarded at university level anywhere in Australia.’’
Ms Chesterman said it was an honour to receive the award.
‘‘The experiences I have had in palliative care rotations during medical school have been excellent and very inspirational,’’ she said.
‘‘I hope this will help me to eventually pursue a career in palliative medicine.’’
The medal is the latest in a series of arrangements between the foundation and the university’s Faculty of Health Sciences.
The Mary Potter senior lectureship in palliative care was established two years ago, with Dr Greg Crawford appointed to the inaugural position.
It aims to provide medical students with enhanced clinical training as well as to conduct future research in this increasingly important area of medical training.
A Mary Potter palliative care nursing fellowship was also launched in August with an international search for a highly qualified nursing professional to undertake clinical research in the field.
The position is being funded by the Fay Fuller Foundation and the University of Adelaide for five years and will also review previous evidence-based studies to develop best practice.
NEW AWARD: University of Adelaide final-year medical students Catherine Chesterman and Brenton Systermans with the Mary Potter senior lecturer in palliative care, Dr Greg Crawford, centre.