First published 11 October, 2012
A James Cook University medical graduate has been awarded one of Australia’s highest accolades for his skills in emergency medicine.
Dr Ben Shepherd, who now works at the Townsville Hospital, received the Joseph Epstein Prize from the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine for the highest mark in the national Emergency Medicine Primary Exams.
The emergency medicine primary examination, which was held last month in Melbourne last month, is the first step in emergency specialisation.
Dr Shepherd, who only graduated with his Bachelor Medicine, Bachelor Surgery (MBBS) two years ago, gained results higher than some who had graduated years prior.
He said he was shocked when he heard the news of the award.
“I was definitely surprised,” he said.
“Many of my other colleagues would have been just as deserving.
“I was very lucky to have a supportive fiancé at home - Sallyanne Reid, another JCU graduate and also a doctor - and a great group of colleagues to study with as well as a study program organised by consultant staff at Hospital’s Emergency Department.”
Originally from Kiama, on New South Wales’ south coast, Mr Shepherd joked he chose JCU to study because “no one else let him into medical school”.
“I received a late round offer from JCU about a week before start of uni, and I was still working as a coal labourer at the time,” he said.
Dr Shepherd said he loved his time studying at JCU.
“I got a good education, met my fiancé and made friends for life.”
While currently based at the Townsville Hospital, Dr Shepherd also works as a ‘rural reliever’ in towns such as Cooktown, Bowen, Ayr and Proserpine.
JCU Head of the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Molecular Sciences, Professor Ian Wronski congratulated Dr Shepherd, and said the award was well-deserved.
It was also an indication of not only of the quality of JCU’s medical programs, but also the great experience and quality of the clinical teaching environment at The Townsville Hospital, he said.
“This is a fantastic reconition of Ben’s achievements and he deserves every accolade. It is also an acknowledgement that JCU’s medical program produces skilled, work-ready graduates with a strong foundation of scientific and medical knowledge,” he said.
“We pride ourselves on being a leader in our focus areas of rural and remote health, tropical medicine and the health of Indigenous Australians.”
Dr Shepherd said in future, he hoped to combine his skills in emergency medicine and his passion for working in rural areas.
“I hope it will be a mixture of emergency medicine and working in rural areas - but I’m happy to relax for a while. I’ve got a wedding next year to save up for and plenty of mates and family to catch up with.”
JCU Media contact: Caroline Kaurila (07) 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175