Scholarship honours dedicated country doctor

Published 01 July 2008

nevin.jpgSince starting work as a consultant physician at Armidale Hospital in 1975, Dr John Nevin has helped countless patients throughout the New England North West region of NSW. Now he is enabling others to do the same.

Dr Nevin (pictured here) retired from clinical practice at the end of 2006, but came out of retirement to take up a position of Associate Professor in the University of New England’s School of Rural Medicine, which is part of the innovative Joint Medical Program (JMP). The JMP is an expansion of the highly successful University of Newcastle medical program in partnership with the University of New England, Hunter New England Health and Northern Sydney Central Coast Health.

Recently, the New England Division of General Practice (NEDGP) recognised Dr Nevin’s contribution to the New England North West region by inaugurating a scholarship in his name. The John Nevin Scholarship is for students of the JMP who are based at UNE, who have a rural or regional background, and who are not in receipt of any other scholarship. It is for one year only, and is worth up to $5,000. The scholarship has been made available through the generosity of GPs and medical specialists across the region, Armidale Dumaresq Council, the NEDGP, local businesses, and individuals.

Professor Victor Minichiello, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of UNE’s Faculty of The Professions, said the scholarship was an example of the support that the local Division of General Practice was giving to the School of Rural Medicine and its students.

Professor Minichiello said that Dr Nevin had been “a remarkable country doctor”. “His commitment to providing high-quality service to rural Australia is widely recognised not only by his former patients but also by his peers in medicine,” he said. “We hope that students who are awarded this scholarship will show Dr Nevin’s level of commitment to rural medicine.”

While it was envisaged that only one student a year would receive the scholarship, the panellists could not decide on just one recipient and awarded it to two: Shannon Townsend and Daniel Tilley. In congratulating them, Dr Maree Puxty, a member of the Board and Scholarship Committee of the NEDGP, said: “These exceptional young people are two of the first intake of students in the JMP at UNE. They are both from rural backgrounds and wish to make careers as primary health care workers in rural Australia.”

The scholarships were presented during a function at Armidale Hospital in May. Speaking at the function, the Chairman of the NEDGP, Dr Paul Kennedy, said the John Nevin Scholarship recognised the “enormous contribution” that Dr Nevin had made to the New England community. He pointed out that, as a medical student, Dr Nevin himself had received a scholarship from a businessman in Tamworth – his home town. “Without that money he would have been unable to complete his undergraduate degree and provide 30 years of experience as a physician to our local community,” Dr Kennedy said.

Thanking the Division for the scholarship, Daniel Tilley said it meant a great deal to him and that it would make things possible that probably would not have been without it. “It’s a real honour to receive the John Nevin Scholarship,” he said. “What Dr Nevin has put into Armidale is something I want to put into my future community.”

Dr Nevin said he had reluctantly agreed to have his name attached to the scholarship in the hope that it would encourage others to support students to finish their studies through the JMP and ultimately practise rural medicine. The NEDGP is a registered charity, and all contributions are tax-deductible. For more information contact the Division on (02) 6771 1146.

THE PHOTOGRAPH of Associate Professor John Nevin displayed here expands to include the scholarship recipients Daniel Tilley and Shannon Townsend.