Summer Conferrings at UCC 2012
The guest speaker at the conferring ceremonies was Professor Cillian Twomey former Consultant Geriatrician, Cork University and St Finbarr’s Hospitals in Cork. Professor Twomey is the current Intern Network Coordinator, South Intern Network and Chariman of Intern Networks Executive.
At the Dental Conferrings (BDS), University Dental Instructor, Joseph Hallissey was conferred with an Honorary Degree of Master of Science. Mr Hallissey’s main role has been in dental education, specifically in the area of Prosthetic Dentistry and Dental Technology. During his 30 plus years of service at the Cork Dental School and Hospital over 1,000 dental students passed through his teaching laboratory and benefitted from his skills as an Instructor Technician.
One of the oldest of UCC’s graduates, Dr Madoline O'Connell (97) was honoured in the conferring ceremony speeches made by UCC President, Dr Michael Murphy. Dr O’Connell attended the 3.30pm ceremony.
Summer Conferrings 2012
Thursday 14 June 2012
Prof. Cillian Twomey
formerly Consultant Geriatrician, Cork University & St. Finbarr’s Hospitals, Cork
Current Intern Network Coordinator, South Intern Network & Chairman of Intern Networks Executive
President, Graduates, University Staff, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am greatly honoured to speak at today’s conferring ceremonies and I wish to express my gratitude to you President and to Prof. John Higgins, Head of College of Medicine & Health for the invitation.
In preparing my contribution I visited the UCC website and rather worryingly, for me at least, I discovered that the conferring addresses to UCC’s graduation ceremonies for the last several years are there for all – to read, to critique, perhaps admire, more likely to dismiss, sneer, ignore – perhaps all of the above. One recurring ‘health warning’ was ‘to avoid the clichés’ – I will do my best. And so it is with some trepidation that I proceed!
I meandered even further and, I’m reliably informed that the correct term is ‘surfed the net’ further; this bamboozled me with a myriad of quotations at least some of which could be considered appropriate for an occasion such as this. For example:
‘A graduation ceremony is an event where the commencement speaker tells thousands of students dressed in identical caps and gowns that "individuality" is the key to success’.
‘There is a good reason they call these ceremonies "commencement exercises." Graduation is not the end; it's the beginning’.
‘Your families are extremely proud of you. You can't imagine the sense of relief they are
experiencing. This would be a most opportune time to ask for money’.
‘Graduation is only a concept. In real life every day you graduate. Graduation is a process that goes on until the last day of your life. If you can grasp that, you'll make a difference’.
This is a very special occasion for you, your spouses, your parents, family, friends, mentors and teachers. Forty two years ago, I sat, with 46 other classmates, where you now sit (or more accurately in the nearby Aula Maxima). I vividly recall that day in 1970, the great sense of personal achievement and even more the pride and satisfaction felt by my parents and family. For each one of you today is a truly unique day. Mór comhgáirdeachas díbh go léir.
Addressing College of Medicine & Health graduates at the June 2007 conferring ceremonies our president Dr. Michael Murphy informed us that UCC first conferred medical degrees in 1851. 65 years later, in 1916, the first dental graduates (BDS) were conferred but it took another 80 years, in 2002, before the nursing profession was first recognised with a university degree. The summer of 2007 was also the year that UCC, through its College of Medicine & Health, first conferred degrees in Occupational Therapy, Pharmacy and Speech and Language Therapy.
And so today, reflecting the huge increase in student numbers graduating from each of the six schools affiliated to UCC’s College of Medicine & Health there will have been three separate conferring ceremonies. This first one is ceremony is for our medical graduates, the second will include our newly qualified graduates in dentistry, occupational therapy, pharmacy, public health & health promotion and speech & language therapy. In today’s final ceremony our graduates from the School of Nursing will be joined by a number of postgraduate students being conferred with master degrees and doctorates in philosophy and medicine, each the product of original research undertaken with the supervision and guidance of staff from UCC’s the four constituent Colleges.
This first conferring ceremony today is unique in another respect, another ‘first’, coinciding as it does with the graduation of the first group from UCC’s Graduate Entry Medical School. And so this morning we celebrate the graduation of 154 doctors (39 Graduate Entry). This is the largest single number of medical graduates on the same day from UCC.
When I was growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s society held professions in high regard – especially the teacher (or Master, as we called the headmaster), the priest and the doctor; some would now say these individuals were treated with undue deference. Be that as it may such realties reflected ‘the times that were in it’; I believe it is fair to suggest that today this special status no longer automatically applies – it must be earned.
Doctors, in my opinion, do still enjoy a privileged position; patients come to us with their concerns and worries and in confidence place full trust in us. The Medical Council is the regulatory body monitoring and adjudicating on doctors’ competence and professionalism. In May 2011, the Irish Medical Council endorsed the National Intern Training Programme (NITP) a copy of which each of you who will be working in Ireland this coming year will receive at the commencement of your internship. In describing the responsibilities of doctors both to patients and to society as a whole an extract from the NITP states that ‘good medical practice is based on a relationship of trust between doctors and society and involves a partnership between patient and doctor that is based on mutual respect, confidentiality, honesty, responsibility and accountability’.
It is likely that you will never again have as much theoretical medical knowledge in your head as you now possess. But be aware that the Medical Council describes not one but eight separate domains of good professional practice that encompass all that doctors should apply in their day-to-day medical lives. These domains are patient safety & quality of patient care, relating to patients, communication & interpersonal skills, collaboration & teamwork, management (including self-management), scholarship, professionalism and clinical skills. Quite a list, quite something to live up to.
Whilst never wishing to down play the essential requirement for clinical knowledge and scholarship the possession of which each of you demonstrably has in abundance, the other domains outlined indicate to doctors that knowledge, competence and related clinical skills must be matched with other characteristics that mark a good doctor like to listening to your patient, to work on your communication skills, to be compassionate and empathetic It has never been about knowledge alone.
Speaking in this very hall in June 2007, my friend and colleague, the late Prof. Gerry O’Sullivan, who died earlier this year, reminded his audience that the graduates of that summer were starting their careers in a healthcare service which ‘had been transformed by scientific developments, technology, regulations and opportunities in ways that could not have been remotely dreamed by our or any prior generation on graduation day. With these advantages come greater challenges and responsibilities. What you therefore must adopt and develop are those professional values that will enable you to practice and contribute in a world where change, globalisation and information turnover are happening at a frenetic pace’. To this can now be added the challenges presented the country’s financial woes.
The career options open to you are many and varied; some of you may have already decided your chosen ‘ology’, others may not have the slightest clue – both positions are perfectly OK, the latter maybe even more so. In my own case I first thought I would like to be a general practitioner and after some initial years working in St. Finbarr’s Hospital, I joined an urban practice in the North city area. Then two things happened, this was in the ‘pre sat-nav era’, and I regularly got lost when on house calls, being completely unable to find my way to patients’ homes. The second and more significant lesson I learnt in general practice was how challenging it was, it being often difficult to decide whether to refer a patient to hospital or not. It is my genuine belief that ALL doctors should be obliged to do a least 12 months in general practice, regardless of their ultimate career choice.
It was when in general practice that I first became interested in medicine in older age. Looking after older patients in the practice in addition to the inspiration of my mentor and teacher in geriatric medicine, Dr. Michael Hyland, convinced me to undergo specialist training in geriatric and general internal medicine, initially in St. Finbarr’s Hospital, Cork, later in London and Liverpool – something I have never regretted. I was later lucky enough to join Michael Hyland as Cork’s second geriatrician in 1979 and had a most enjoyable thirty-one career working in Cork and UCC. Geriatric medicine is a specialty that involves extremely close collaborative multidisciplinary working with all those other healthcare professionals being conferred today. Multidisciplinary teamworking is key to the provision and delivery of high quality care. Though now retired from clinical practice for two years I still retain a keen interest in elderly issues generally as well as in teaching, specifically intern education and training.
In March 2010, I was invited by the medical school in UCC to take up the position of Intern Network Coordinator for the South Intern Network – interns are currently assigned to ten different clinical sites in this region (Cork, Kerry and South Tipperary). They work in hospitals in Bantry, Clonmel, Cork City, Mallow and Tralee in addition to two general practices in Mallow and Mitchelstown. The reformed National Matching Programme, introduced in July 2010, has helped to better coordinate the education and training experience of interns nationwide.
In Ireland we are going through what are described as ‘hard times’ these past few years and it is indeed ironic that at a time during which we have never been training so many healthcare professionals – across all disciplines including medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physiotherapy, speech & language therapy – that many of our graduates are having to leave Ireland to get employment. What a perverse misuse of an expensive resource that is. It is also short-sighted and I would strongly urge Government to do all in its power to reverse this trend.
I am however acutely aware that this year, due to the increased number of graduates in medicine from Irish medical schools there, not to mention EU graduates (including Irish citizens) from medical schools outside the Irish Republic, the number of intern posts for 2012-13 may not be sufficient to meet the demand. With an even bigger number of Irish-trained graduates expected in 2013 this intern deficit issue must be addressed as a matter of some urgency.
Spending some time working outside Ireland from the educational, training and experience viewpoint is something I would wholeheartedly recommend to you all but I do equally hope that most of you, should you so wish it, will ultimately settle for a career here in Ireland. I am convinced that if it be your wish that ambition will be realised.
We now live in a totally different world; for much of my professional life there were no computers, no mobile phones, no immediate internet access, never mind the more frightening, to me at least, world of Facebook and Twitter. It is also certain that the modern-day patient is infinitely better informed on their health matters and is more questioning and challenging than has ever previously applied. This should not be seen as a threat, on the contrary it facilitates more open dialogue between patient and doctor.
Graduates tend to be classified by the year in which they obtained their primary degree. In this sense you newly qualified nurses will be forever be known as the ‘UCC Class of 2012’ and wherever your careers take you that bond you have nurtured together these past few years in College should sustain. It has become customary to stage class reunions at appropriate intervals from graduation – usually beginning at 10 years, then 20 years, 25 Years, 30 years, 40 years and 50 years. (Here I must acknowledge that some classes who have enjoyed meeting up so much that they meet even more frequently). I do hope that this ‘reunion’ tradition applies to the your year– you will genuinely enjoy meeting up and, just in case you are wondering, nobody changes personalities, possible idiosyncratic quirks and your many fine attributes remain no matter what – something to do with the genes, I suspect!
As well as working as medical practitioners, I believe that doctors have a wider civic responsibility be it in our local communities or as representatives of our profession at local, regional, national and perhaps international levels. Not all are necessarily ‘committee devotees’ but practicing medicine also requires some understanding and commitment to multidisciplinary teamworking with all healthcare professionals but also with others such as health service managers, politicians and journalists.
W H Auden describes a professor as ‘someone who talks in someone else’s sleep’! Or Garry Trudeau has said: ‘Commencement speeches were invented largely in the belief that outgoing college students should never be released into the world until they have been properly sedated’. Hoping that I have not been guilty of inducing general anaesthesia, I will leave with a more upbeat thought from Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail’.
As well as being privileged to get the opportunity to practice medicine I too have greatly enjoyed my life as a doctor. This ‘enjoyment’ is not incompatible with being a good doctor – in truth it is an essential contributing factor to a successful medical career.
I will conclude by once more congratulating you all on this historic day in your lives, your families, mentors and teachers. Enjoy the rest of the day. May it be the first of many such enjoyable days for the rest of your careers. Go n’-eirí libh uilig agus go dté sibh slán. Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.
Honorary Degree of Master of Science
University College Cork
12.30pm Thursday 14th June 2012
President, Academic Colleagues, Graduates, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Joseph Hallissey has a long association with the Cork Dental School and Hospital and UCC. A native of Cork, he trained as a Dental Technician in the old Dental Hospital in John Redmond Street from 1969-74. He was awarded a Scholarship to spend time at the Turner Dental School in Manchester in 1971, and achieved first place in the Intermediate City and Guilds Dental Technology examination. After a period as a production technician, he was appointed a trainee University Dental Instructor in 1977. He received further training at the Royal Dental Hospital in London in 1978, and was appointed to his current position as University Dental Instructor in 1981.
He is one of the few remaining Instructor Technicians in Dental Technology in Western Europe. At the time of his appointment, after many years of discussion, a plan was finally in progress to move the Dental Hospital to its current location in Wilton, and the current building opened in 1982. Joe is one of the few remaining staff to have worked in both Dental Hospitals in Cork, and has been a part of the considerable transition in Cork Dental School and Hospital over the past 30 years. It is of note that Joe actually taught many of the current teaching staff, including the current Head of School. In that time, there have been seismic shifts in patterns of disease and attitudes to dental health, and this has been mirrored by major changes in educational and training requirements and standards. The curriculum for students in 2012 bears little resemblance to that in place in 1980, and teaching staff have had to adapt and lead curriculum change over that time. In addition to the dental specific education changes, there have also been major changes in student profile in UCC. In 1981, a finely tuned ear might detect the odd Tipperary or Kerry accent among Cork city and county tones audible in UCC; however, as seen today, the Dental School now has students from all over the globe. Coping with these changes over such a long period of time requires dedication and commitment to student teaching and an ability to adapt to the many different learning styles of our students. Joe has managed this with good grace and a sense of wanting to do his very best by the students. I think it is fair to say that Joe would not be slow to voice an opinion, and always wants students to thrive under his tutoring. The term “instructor” is not redundant in his case, and the students receive interactive, “hand-on” teaching in Prosthetic Dentistry under his care.
He has been a member of, and contributor to, the Society of University Dental Instructors of the UK and Ireland, which is a collective of university-based Dental Technicians in the UK and Ireland dedicated to the advancement of dental technology education. At various points in his career, he has also been involved in the TEMPUS project for harmonisation of dental education standards in Europe, and published research into reasons for choosing dentistry as a career. His main role has been in dental education, specifically in the area of Prosthetic Dentistry and Dental Technology.
One of the key challenges to dentists is to manage loss of teeth for our patients. In a matter of days and weeks, we have to use technology to replace human tissues that have taken millions of years to evolve. On the receiving end of our endeavours is a living human being, more anxious than ourselves at how accomplished we are at this task and wondering whether we can restore normal function and appearance to them. It is a significant responsibility for an oral healthcare professional, and training for it commences at a very early stage in the BDS programme. Our dental students have to develop competence in the design, manufacture and clinical procedures for providing dental prostheses, and Joe has played a significant role in this endeavour over the past 30 years.
During that time, over a 1,000 dental students have passed through his teaching laboratory and benefitted from his skills as an Instructor Technician. He has also played a role in the training and education of dental technicians, including a period during which this training was provided from within Cork Dental School and Hospital. Many students recall with gratitude the help he has provided them over the years in preparing for examinations. It is now fairly standard to see his teaching laboratory packed to the rafters well into the evenings with students busily practicing their newly acquired skills. He facilitates this every year without complaint, and it is greatly appreciated.
His interest in education and learning led to him enrolling for several humanities courses, and he has been awarded a variety of certificates and diplomas in areas as diverse as sociology and ancient Greek civilisation. This endeavour culminated in the award of a BA degree by UCC in 2004.
The significant teaching role that Joe has played over three decades at Cork Dental School and Hospital is honoured here by the award of an honorary Masters degree. We thank him for his dedication to dental undergraduate teaching and for being such a loyal colleague over so many years. We wish him and his wife Margaret who accompanies him today and their family every success into the future.