The University of Queensland Medical Society was initially established in 1936 as the Queensland Medical Students Association (QMSA). Its name was changed to the University of Queensland Medical Society (UQMS) in 1943, with its terms of reference “To advance and protect in all ways the interests of graduates and undergraduates of the University of Queensland.”

It was established by a concerned and vigorous group of senior medical students which included, inter alia, Russell Neville (QMSA Foundation President), Douglas Gordon (later Dean of the Faculty of Medicine), Max Hickey (later Professor of Anatomy and Warden of Union College), and Fred Schwarz. Their prescience and foresight was a first step in the establishment of the undergraduate society which was to become the most significant and professional of all undergraduate bodies within the University of Queensland, over the ensuing seven decades.

Its office holders and committee members have gone on to become national and international leaders in the world of medicine; and the history of the UQMS is, in one small way, a partial history of some of the important collegiate developments of medicine in Australia more broadly. The UQMS was the trail-blazer in equity for resident medical officers. In 1944, it was a proactive stakeholder in the Queensland Industrial Court, liaising with members of the Miscellaneous Workers Union, in obtaining better working hours and rates of pay for first year resident medical officers employed by the Brisbane and South Coast Hospitals Board.

Since that time the UQMS has maintained a vigorous and respected voice in the developments of conditions of service, collegiate outreach and professional standards in the profession of medicine more broadly. In 1960, the UQMS established the national Australian Medical Students Association (AMSA), reaching out from Queensland to promote the Hippocratic spirit of medicine, not only at State but at national level.

The UQMS has also maintained a significant charitable role in the more than six decades of its history, and it continues to provide an “in house” training infrastructure for young graduating doctors who wish not only to serve their colleagues, but to have the opportunity for self-training and extended experience in the collegiate as opposed to the individual world of medicine.

Professor John Pearn (July, 2003)