When Dr Bob French retired from clinical practice at the end of 2014 after 43 years of service to the Armidale community, the Board of the NEDGP wanted to acknowledge his contribution to medicine and teaching in Armidale, and felt that a fitting way to do this was to award a graduation prize in his honour and established the Robert French Prize for Surgery.
The Prize is awarded annually to a student who shows academic excellence by way of graduation with distinction, who scores amongst the top graduates in their surgical courses, and who demonstrates a commitment to a career in surgery by way of extracurricular activities related to surgery.
The 2015 recipient was Dr Peter Ryan, who was also the inaugural head of the Student Surgical Society at UNE.
The 2016 recipient was Dr Sally Sinclair who scored the highest mark in the surgical course, was a certified embalmer, an anatomy demonstrator for the Postgraduate anatomy dissection course, and was the Executive Officer of the UNE Student Surgical Society in 2012/2013. She is also a New England local who hails from Tamworth, and is working as an intern in Tamworth this year.
The 2017 recipient was Dr Ben Cunanen who received the highest marks in surgery over his 5 year course.
2018 recipient is Elloise Smith, pictured receiving her certificate and $1000 cheque from Dr Bob French and NEDGP Chair Michelle Guppy.
2019 saw Dr Sean Styan take home both the Dr Robert French and Dr Phil Bookallil Prizes
The 2020 recipient is Dr Erin Bourke and she was presented with a certificate by NEDGP Treasurer/Secretary Michelle Guppy with Dr Bob French.
Dr Hillary Metcalfe was the 2021 recipient and she writes:
Throughout my training I found I was interested in a wide variety of specialties and struggled to decide whether I was more surgically or medically inclined. Radiology is a career that melds the two, allowing multidisciplinary involvement with many specialty areas to help diagnose and plan treatment for patients, as well as a more hands-on interventional aspect.
The 2022 Recipient is Michael Merakis and his prize was announced at the Graduation dinner for Medicine students on the 1st May 2022.
Michael writes in response to his prize:
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to study medicine under such great teachers. Thank you so much to the New England Division of General Practice for their generous prize and this award. A special thank you to Prof Bob French for his superlative surgical and anatomy education sessions in Armidale.
I’m an intern at John Hunter Hospital. I’m currently working towards a Masters in Surgery by coursework and research from the University of Sydney and will continue towards pursuing further education in Neurosurgery after that.
Dr Charlotte Cornwell is the 2023 recipient of the Robert French prize for Surgery 2022 and our warmest congratulations to her!
Charlotte was able to attend the Medicine Graduations at University of New England and receive her certificate from Associate Professor Michelle Guppy.
Our best wishes to Charlotte for the future!
At the 2015 AGM, NEDGP members asked for the establishment of a prize to recognise a graduating student for rural general practice.
The $1,000 Rural General Practice prize is to be awarded annually to a student who shows academic excellence by way of scoring in the top 15% of graduates in their primary care course, with excellent reports from their GP supervisors, and who demonstrates an interest in rural general practice through extracurricular activities.
Given the recent retirement of Dr Phil Bookallil it was quite fitting that this prize be named after this long-serving and dedicated member of the GP fraternity in New England. The inaugural Phillip Bookallil Prize for Rural General Practice of $1,000 was presented at the Graduation dinner in April, 2016 to Dr Sharna Bennett.
Sharna scored one of the highest marks in the primary care course, consistently scored excellent supervisory reports, and was a member of the GP student network. She is also one of our first graduates to be accepted into the Rural Generalist Training Program, which trains graduates from their intern year into a career in rural medicine.
The 2017 recipient is Dr Emma Gordon who was also the highest ranked UNE JMP Student.
The 2018 recipient is Mitchell Hickson, pictured with NEDGP Chair Dr Michelle Guppy at Graduation.
2019 recipient is Dr Sean Styan who was also awarded the Robert French Prize for Surgery
The 2020 recipient is Dr Kate Penfold and she has been sent her prize and certificate. We hope to congratulate her in person in the future, but has been in contact to say – ‘I am incredibly honoured to have been awarded the Phillip Bookallil Prize for Rural General Practice. Coming from a rural community myself, I have always been interested in rural medicine. This interest grew with each placement and with each meeting of an inspiring rural GP. ‘
Dr Matthew Parsons is the 2021 recipient of the Phillip Bookallil Prize for Rural General Practice and he writes: I’m currently based in Tamworth for the next two years with no plans on leaving. It is an honor to receive the Phillip Bookallil Prize for Rural General Practice and a great encouragement as I seek to stay practicing in the area and pursue Rural General Practice with skills in Emergency Medicine!
Laura Mallett is the 2022 recipient of the Phillip Bookallil prize for General Practice and we are delighted to congratulate her! Michelle Guppy presented Laura with her certificate during the 2021 graduation dinner on the 1st May at Echidna Gully.
Laura has written in response to the prize announcement : ‘I feel very honoured to have been presented with the Philip Bookallil Prize for Rural General Practice. Thank you so much to the New England Division of General Practice for this generous prize. Studying medicine at the University of New England after growing up in Sydney really opened my eyes to the joys of living rurally as well as the barriers rural communities face in terms of healthcare. I loved my medical student years spent in Armidale and Tamworth and the exposure I received to rural medicine.
I am currently an intern at Royal North Shore Hospital. I have enjoyed every placement and rotation I have completed thus far so am still unsure which speciality I would like to head into, which is one of the reasons rural general practice appeals because of its huge variety! I would love to head back to the country to work as a doctor in the future.’
Dr Heidi Bevan is the 2023 recipient of the Phillip Bookallil prize for General Practice 2022 and we are delighted to congratulate her! Heidi has written in response to the prize announcement:
“I would like to thank the New England Division of General Practice for this generous prize. I feel extremely honoured to have been presented with the Phillip Bookalil Prize for Rural General Practice. As someone who grew up in a rural area, I was beyond excited when I found out I was moving to Armidale to study medicine. Spending my initial three years studying in Armidale and one of my clinical years in Tamworth allowed me to make wonderful connections with the local community and gain insight into a rural GP’s life.
I am currently an Intern in the Central Coast Local Health District and enjoying my rotations immensely. I hope to sign up for ACRRM at the end of this year, with my generalist speciality in either ED, Palliative Care or Paediatrics. I am inspired by the idea of becoming such an integral part of a rural community and very excited for my future as a rural GP.”
Dr Vicki Howell presented Heidi with her certificate during the graduation dinner at University of New England on the 28th April.
The NEDGP hopes to continue these prizes in years to come and tax deductible donations are welcome.
The John Nevin Scholarship was developed to recognise local physician Dr John Nevin’s long and exemplary service to medicine over 30 years, and was launched following his retirement at the end of 2006. It was thought appropriate that something be done to ensure the memory of his service was not lost and that the spirit of his selfless commitment to patients, colleagues and community be perpetuated.The John Nevin Scholarship fund allows the NEDGP to continue to support first year medical students of the Joint Medical School at the University of New England with a scholarship grant of $5,000 to contribute to their ongoing education.
The scholarship has supported 15 students from around rural and remote Australia to pursue careers in rural medicine. All recipients have succeeded in continuing their medical education, with the first recipient intending to pursue an internship in a regional area.
This scholarship was made possible initially through the generous donations of local General Practitioners and community members in 2006, with many opting to continue their donations regularly over the years.
If you are interested in making a tax deductible donation to the fund please contact the NEDGP.
Students are offered the Scholarship at the commencement of their first semester.
2008 Shannon Townsend, from Wongarbon near Dubbo & Daniel Tilley, from Bennison, Victoria
2009 Fiona Doig from northern QLD
2010 Davida Shirkey from Inverell, NSW
2011 Lara Proud from rural Victoria then Port Macquarie, NSW
2012 Samuel Williams from Walgett, NSW
2013 Connor Moylan from Lansdowne near Taree, NSW
2014 Hayley Collins from Orange NSW
2015 Mitchell Tillott from Tyalgum NSW
2016 Grace Nelson from Bathurst NSW
2017 Eliza Metz from Junee NSW
2018 Helen Peffer from Linthorpe QLD
2019 Oliver McCahill from MacKay QLD
2020 Jared Lawrence from Mt Olive NSW
2021 Matt St Hill from Forster/Tuncurry NSW
2022 Bethanie Rice from Armidale NSW
2023 Hannah George from Narrabri NSW