Fulfilling their potential
University students across the globe are confronted with financial obstacles in pursuit of their graduate studies. While the sizes of the obstacles vary dramatically, a common challenge among full-time students is how to pursue their studies most effectively.
Students from the Melbourne Medical School – which this year celebrates 150 years of graduating world-class health professionals – are no different in this regard.
Launched in 2011 the school’s flagship graduate professional degree, the Doctor of Medicine (MD), is an intensive and demanding program providing students with clinical and academic training.
Professor James Best, Head of the Melbourne Medical School, acknowledges the intensive nature of the MD and the need for medical students to receive financial assistance.
“The rigours of the Doctor of Medicine and the demands placed on students mean many students will need to apply for a scholarship to help them meet their living and study expenses during their degree,” he says.
It is a view shared by the MD student cohort, where there are wonderful examples of students who, aided by scholarships, are fulfilling their immense potential.
Second year MD student Nick Hughes can’t imagine what medical school would have been like without his scholarship from the Victorian Medical Insurance Agency Limited.
“Scholarships allow people like me, who unfortunately cannot get assistance from their parents, to be able to study at university. Without this scholarship there is almost no possibility that I would be able to do the MD,” Mr Hughes says.
“Medicine in particular is specially relevant in this argument as it involves 8am-6pm availability Monday to Friday”.
Stephanie Chapple, who has been undertaking a PhD at Melbourne Museum prior to embarking on her MD this year, agrees that scholarships are particularly important to medical students. Stephanie is the recipient of a Medical Rural Bonded Scholarship funded by the Federal Government, which will see her working in a rural area upon graduation.
“The MD is a very condensed pre-clinical phase compared to other medical degrees, so assistance for students to focus on their studies is particularly important,” she says.
“My scholarship means I can concentrate on my studies and not worry about working at the same time. The income support will make the journey through medical school much eastier.”
Many scholarship recipients eventually go on to conduct truly remarkable and influential work, both in Australia and overseas.
Dr Sant-Rayn Pasricha, a MBBS graduate and PhD student, has received several awards and scholarships during his time at the University of Melbourne, and has recently received a Victorian Fellowship, allowing him to work at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva.
On the back of his scholarships, Dr Pasricha has undertaken research which has inspired his ambition to make a significant international contribution in health policy.
“Once I finish my specialist training I hope to get a post doctorate scholarship to work in the US or UK and eventually I want to set up a research centre, to investigate blood disorders of people living in developing countries,” he says.
Current anniversary celebrations are an opportunity for the Melbourne Medical School to refocus its commitment to providing all of its students the chance to succeed in their studies, regardless of their financial circumstances.
With that, the school has established the Melbourne Medical School Scholarship Fund to encourage philanthropic support and hopefully assist all students to achieve a rewarding career.
“Our goal is to provide support to our students so they can achieve success in their study and career, and are not impeded by adverse financial circumstances,” Professor Best says.
“In this the 150th Anniversary of our Melbourne Medical School, I’m encouraging all our Medical Alumni to consider contributing to their alma mater and in doing so, help us support future generations of doctors,” he says.
For scholarship recipients like Nick, Stephanie and Sant-Rayn, easing their financial burden means they can focus on research and study. With the support of its alumni, supporters and partners, the Melbourne Medical School hopes many more talented students will be provided the same opportunities as it embarks on its next 150 years.