Australia’s second person ever to graduate from medical school with quadriplegia – and the first quadriplegic medical intern in Queensland – will be a keynote speaker at the peak annual conference for rural doctors, Rural Medicine Australia 2019, to be held at the Gold Coast in October.

Halfway through medical school, Dr Dinesh Palipana was involved in a catastrophic motor vehicle accident that caused a cervical spinal cord injury. As a result of his injury and experiences, he has been an advocate for inclusivity in Medicine and the workplace generally.

Dr Palipana earned a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) prior to completing his Doctor of Medicine (MD) at Griffith University, and has also completed an Advanced Clerkship in Radiology at Harvard University.

He is a founding member of Doctors with Disabilities Australia and is currently a resident medical officer at the Gold Coast University Hospital.

He was the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service’s 'Junior Doctor of the Year' in 2018 and most recently was awarded the 2019 Medal of the Order of Australia.

He is also a lecturer at Griffith University and adjunct research fellow at the Menzies Health Institute of Queensland, with a research interest in spinal cord injury, particularly with novel rehabilitation  techniques.

RDAA President, Dr Adam Coltzau, said: “The story of Dinesh, the journey he has taken and the experiences he has had are nothing short of amazing. He has been a trailblazer in pursuing his career as a doctor, and we greatly look forward to hearing his views on disability and inclusiveness in the medical sector.”

Dr Palipana said: “Medicine allows one to help others in a way that can transcend so many barriers. Medicine can go beyond ethnicity, borders, wealth, beliefs or geography. That is a beautiful thing because it unites people. It is a completely non-judgmental way of using your skills to hopefully make a significant positive impact in someone’s life. I hope to spread the message that equity and inclusivity is important both within and outside the profession.”

Dr Palipana’s keynote address at RMA19 will add to an engaging line-up of speakers,
• Ita Buttrose AC OBE
• Australia’s first National Rural Health Commissioner, Professor Paul Worley
• Chief Executive of the Australian Digital Health Agency, Tim Kelsey
• Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Major General (Ret'd) Liz Cosson
• National President of the Australian Association of Practice Managers, Cathy Baynie
• President of the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland, Dr Clare Walker
• AMA Vice President, Dr Chris Zappala
• ACRRM President, Dr Ewen McPhee
• RDAA President, Dr Adam Coltzau

RMA is the largest annual gathering of rural doctors in Australia and is jointly hosted by the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA). More than 800 delegates are expected to attend this year’s event.

“As always, our conference is relaxed, friendly and enormously welcoming, and caters to all sections of the rural health community – not only the current rural doctor workforce, but also the wider rural health team of nurses and allied health professionals, as well as the medical students and junior doctors who are keen to make Rural Medicine their future career” said ACRRM President, Dr Ewen McPhee.

“Importantly, it provides a great opportunity for rural health professionals from right across Australia to discuss rural health policy, undertake upskilling in a wide range of critical areas, and talk to the next generation of rural doctors and other health professionals about the endless opportunities available in Rural Medicine.”