Sydney base, HMAS Penguin has hosted the graduation of the inaugural Australian Defence Force Medical Course, held at the Royal Australian Navy Medical School and the Australian Defence Force Medic Course graduated from the Army School of Health at Latchford Barracks in Victoria.
All training is usually carried out in Albury-Wodonga, but due to recent manning issues a decision was taken to train a course at Penguin in 2016/17.
Navy stepped up to the task, along with the Wodonga TAFE, and 18 months later the students graduated with both a Diploma of Enrolled Nursing as well as a Diploma of Para-medicine from Wodonga Institute of TAFE.
This course is the only initial entry Medical Course ever to be held at the Royal Australian Navy Medical School.
To mark the occasion a passing out parade was held at Penguin with family, friends and members of the Navy Health Service Branch, and the Commanding Officer Commander Ian Campbell, in attendance.
The Reviewing Officer for the parade was the Fleet Medical Officer Commander Richard Loizou.
Upon completion of inspecting the graduating class, Commander Loizou delivered a speech about the actions of the ship’s medical crew onboard HMAS Voyager, reflecting on their heroic deeds to save countless lives following the collision of the ship with HMAS Melbourne in 1964.
Commander Loizou concluded by commending the graduates on all their hard work and highlighted the significant role they will have at sea.
Senior Course Instructor Lieutenant Tara Muscat said the intensive course was challenging both clinically and theoretically.
The course ended with a week of mass casualty simulation exercises, lead by the Navy Medical School Simulation Team and experienced Clinical Managers from various units who provided support and subject matter expertise.
During the ceremony, three major prizes were awarded.
Wodonga TAFE presented an award for the student of merit, awarded to Seaman Medic Peter George who was also awarded overall dux.
A third award is also presented on graduation, named in honour of the late Petty Officer Medic Steven Slattery who was killed in the Sea King helicopter ‘Shark 02’ crash in Nias, in 2005.
The award recognises the academic achievement and personal qualities leading directly to teamwork, loyalty, and contribution during the course.
This year there were joint winners of this award, being Able Seaman Maritime Logistics – Chef Bronte Whiley and Seaman Medic Shardene Fenner.
Upon graduation approximately half of these graduates were posted to Fleet Units.
The Penguin graduation was closely followed by the graduation at Latchford Barracks and Commander Campbell travelled to the Army School of Health to be the Reviewing Officer for the graduation.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to meet with Navy graduates from the Australian Defence Force Medical School and engage with staff from the Army School of Health, as well as the Wodonga Institute of TAFE, which provides much of the external training, achieving a Diploma of Nursing as well as a Diploma of Para-medicine,” he said.
Three Navy students were reawarded for academic excellence. Seaman Medic Jake Webb was awarded Dux, Seaman Medic Jonathon Jordan was awarded the Wodonga Institute of TAFE Student of Merit, and Seaman Medic Carly Burke was awarded the Petty Officer Slattery Award.
The Officer In Charge Royal Australian Navy Medical School Lieutenant Commander Adrian Gantley said that the extra Navy presence at the Army School was very well received by the members on course and instructors posted to the school.
“It certainly helped foster the ongoing positive working relationship between Army School of Health, the Navy Medical School, and the Wondonga Institute of TAFE,” he said.
“The future of medical care in Navy is definitely in good hands.”