Prorectors of the University of Malta,
Professor Mark Caulfied,
Members of the Queen Mary University of London Executive Board,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
And above all dear Graduands,
This impressive gathering and this ceremony is all about you.
We are meeting in these imposing historical surroundings to celebrate you. To celebrate your achievement.
I have to begin with wishing you all sincere congratulations on behalf of the people of Malta and Gozo.
This is your day!
This is the day you have been waiting for. This is the culmination of years of study, sacrifice, misgivings, and nail biting, waiting for examination results.
That sacrifice, that yearning, and those anxieties were also shared by your parents, your families and your friends.
All along we have to acknowledge the huge efforts of your teachers trying to “force feed” you medical knowledge and much more.
Today, you all stand here proud of your achievements, smiling, and happy, looking straight into the future.
We are all here today to enjoy savouring with you the sweet taste of success.
The future beckons. It is full of opportunities. It will give you the opportunity to put into practice all you have learnt from books, classroom discussions, ward simulations and clinical experiences.
This is not the end of the road.
God forbid you might be tempted to think you know enough, and stop studying further. Knowledge knows no limits.
Scientific knowledge, and more specifically medical knowledge, is developing at exponential speed. You have embarked on a journey of lifelong study which hopefully will keep giving you more and more satisfaction, and hopefully always a bigger sense of fulfilment.
Coming from the medical profession myself, I ask for your forbearance if I may sound prejudiced in what I am going to say.
All human labour is noble. All professions are noble. However I believe that medicine is one of the noblest of professions.
What makes it noble is not only the knowledge of the subject, or the use of modern technology which has completely altered the practice of medicine and surgery as we used to know it 30 or 40 years ago.
What makes it noble, is the fact that it is meant to equip you to be able to help fellow human beings in their hour of need, in times when they are the most fragile, at times when it is a question of either imminent death or doing something to preserve life, at times when anybody’s most cherished life, or health, could be at stake.
The medical professional is there to do good, guided by his knowledge, his principles, his ethics and his morals. The basic tenet of medicine is ‘Primum non nocere’ (Firstly do no harm).
The medical profession is all about preserving life. It is all about restoring health. It is all about teaching others how not to fall ill, and how to prolong our lives the most we can. This is why, after years in medical practice we still meet former patients who keep reminding us of that particular remote incident, or date, where we were there to help them.
More often than not, we would most probably have forgotten the episode, but the patient would not.
I agree with Mark Anthony when at Caeser’s funeral he said that ‘the evil that men do lives after them’, but I am less in agreement with him when he says that ‘the good is oft interred with their bones’.
This applies mostly to those members of the medical profession who either go into private practice as specialists in family medicine, or eventually, after specialising, as consulting physicians or surgeons, keeping constant direct contact with patients.
I am not excluding the stirling work done, and the huge fulfilment achieved, by those of you who opt to go into other medical specialities that are more laboratory orientated.
As I already hinted, today’s research opportunities, and the invaluable tools provided by modern technology, are there to be made use of, adapted to medical and surgical needs, to help arrive at diagnosis and treatment quicker, to give us a better understanding of the aetiology of disease, and hopefully to help us find solutions to today’s worst killers – cancer, autoimmune disease, rare diseases and hereditary genetic conditions to mention a few.
Whichever medical or surgical speciality you choose to pursue, I wish you all resounding successes in your chosen future careers.
Before concluding, I could not but thank you, and once again your families, for having chosen to carry out your studies here in Malta or rather in Gozo, on this campus of Queen Mary University of London
The twenty-two of you came from eleven different countries.
I am sure your mix of nationalities did not hinder you from settling down amongst us, while contributing further to our ever-increasing numbers of non-Maltese people on our Island. 20% of our population now is non-Maltese. I do not say foreign, because many have by now, in varying degrees, integrated in our multicultural society, and are contributing towards the enrichment of our way of life, which because of our geostrategic position in the middle of the Mediterranean has always been highly cosmopolitan.
I hope you will all be taking away with you happy memories of life in Gozo and Malta, if not also some romantic episodes you will cherish forever.
I also know that many of you have picked up some Maltese, probably with a Gozitan accent, with two of you even managing to win awards in Medical Maltese. Well done.
We are proud to have you as Malta’s roving Ambassadors, wherever the future takes you, but please do find the time to come back to visit us.
I wish you all the best in your future careers.