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2023 UQ School of Medicine Graduation Address

This is the time of the year when new interns are starting their positions in hospitals. It is an exciting time that you have been working towards for many years. It can also be a daunting time with so much coming at you and for the first time you feel the pressure of the full responsibility of patient care on your shoulders.

I had the great honour to be the invited guest speaker for the University of Queensland’s graduation ceremony of the medical faculty on 15th December 2023. I shared some insights I gained while working with 4000+ interns in the AMA Queensland ‘Wellbeing at Work’ program.

Doctors usually put a lot of pressure on themselves, especially junior doctors, and they can find it hard to reach out when feeling overwhelmed. Feeling overwhelmed can happen to anybody and just the simple message that ‘it is ok to not feel in complete control’ is extra important for high achieving perfectionists. You are not alone and please reach out to your peers when you need support. We all need support at some stage in our lives. Keep connected to loved ones. And remember that we are always responsible for our own reactions, even under pressure. So, when you receive a nasty response from someone, it says more about them than it says about you. 

There are also many groups, specifically for doctors, such as the Queensland Medical Women’s Society. Doctors’ Health in Queensland have a free, 24/7 helpline for medical students or doctors that would like to (anonymously) speak to a peer (  And I am very proud of our new doctor coaches’ network. Recently, the ‘Doctors who coach Doctors’ group developed an online directory if you want to find a doctor coach (  Because many doctors feel most as ease when speaking to a peer who trained as a coach. Someone that really knows what our circumstances can be like. 

I have been asked to share this address as many people were touched by it, both medical and non-medical and at different stages of life. So, this month, the address replaces the President’s Chat.

When coaching professionals in high-pressure environments, I do find that these messages are universal. Please feel free to share this clip with whoever you think could benefit from it.

All the best wishes for 2024 and we hope to see you at our first dinner on 22nd February which will be followed by our AGM. We are delighted that A/Prof Catherine McDougall, Queensland Health Chief Medical Officer is our guest speaker. I look forward to seeing you all.

Photo: from the left

  • Professor Stuart Carney, Dean, UQ Medical School
  • Professor Deborah Terry AO, Vice-Chancellor and President, UQ
  • Dr Ira van der Steenstraten, President QMWS
  • Mr Jeremy Hunt, Valedictorian
  • Mr Jack Graham, Declaration of Geneva
  • Ms Tonianne Dwyer, Deputy Chancellor, UQ
  • Professor Geoff McColl, Executive Dean, Faculty of Medicine