College timeline

Vision, dedication and passion — explore the College’s history over the years, the evolution of medicine and the role of our physicians.


Can you add to our timeline? Submit a timeline entry that you think is of significance.


1930
Until the 1930s

Australian and Aotearoa New Zealand physicians had to seek membership of one of the UK's Royal College of Physicians.

This was logical as until the post World War 1 period, many Anglo-Australians considered themselves citizens of the British Empire.

 
Jan
Friendship and scientific stimulus

A group of physicians established The Association of Physicians of Australasia for 'friendship and scientific stimulus’.

 
Jun
1936
A new College

The Association of Physicians of Australasia Council proposed that an examining and executive College should be formed to enhance the prestige of the profession, stimulate interest in medical education and research, and set a standard of professional ethical conduct. See the original report on the Council's proposal.

The constitution was to be modelled on that of the London College.

 
Apr
1937
Macquarie Street

Premises at 145 Macquarie Street, Sydney, were purchased by Trustees on behalf of the College. The building was originally the home of the Fairfax family, famous for its association with the Sydney Morning Herald.

Funds for the purchase were donated by the NSW Government, Foundation Fellows and other benefactors.

 
Apr
A royal title

Royal assent was given for the inclusion of ‘Royal’ in the College title.

The letter from Australian prime minister, Joe Lyons, indicating that King George VI approved the title is on display in the Fellows Room at 145 Macquarie Street, Sydney.

 
Jul
1938
Hominum servire saluti

The College was incorporated and the first meeting of the Council was held.

The motto Hominum servire saluti — To serve the health of our people, was adopted for the College coat of arms.

 
Apr
Inaugural presidency

Sir Charles Bickerton Blackburn was the first RACP president.

In his speech at the inaugural College ceremony, he concluded by epitomising what he considered the essential objective of the College — 'fostering facilities for young graduates to acquire advanced knowledge of medicine.'

 
Apr
Growing membership

47 candidates from Australia and Aotearoa NZ took the first membership examinations and 41 members were admitted.

 
Sep
1940
Research hub

The College Library was established for medical research. Leslie Cowlishaw was appointed its first Librarian in 1940.

 
Dec
1941
Prized discovery

Howard Florey carried out the first ever clinical trials of penicillin. By D-Day 1944, the new drug was in military use for treating war wounds. In 1945, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Sir Ernst Chain and Sir Alexander Fleming for his role in the drugs development.

At 145 Macquarie Street, we have a culture vessel used for the growing of mould juice during the trials at Oxford.

Sir Howard Florey became an Honorary Fellow of the RACP.

 
Feb
1945
During the Second World War

145 Macquarie Street was used by US Army medical officers for scientific meetings, by the Red Cross for storing bandages and by the RAAF Medical Command for secret meetings.

 
Sep
1946
A new publication

The College’s first scientific journal, Proceedings of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, was published.

This was succeeded by The Australasian Annals of Medicine, later renamed The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Medicine, and now the Internal Medicine Journal.

 
Jan
1947
Travelling scholarships

The Wunderley Travelling Scholarship was established

 
Jan
1954
Valuable additions

The library acquired valuable Renaissance, 17th and 18th century books from the College of Physicians in London.

 
Jan
1958
Changes for our Library

The College Library was renamed the History of Medicine Library under the administration of Professor Edward Ford, changing the focus from clinical research.

 
Jan
1968
Accreditation

The Hospital Accreditation Committee was set up to consider the training and recognition of specialist physicians.

 
Jan
1970
Leading the way

The College created the first Nuclear Medicine training and accreditation program in the world.

 
Jan
1978
Continuing Education

John D. Hunter was appointed the first Director of Continuing Education.

 
Jan
1986
Female lead

Professor Priscilla Kincaid-Smith was elected the first female president of the College.

 
Jan
1988
Golden celebrations

The RACP’s Golden Jubilee was celebrated at the Annual Scientific Meeting in Sydney with 4,000 attendees.

 
May
1991
Philanthropy and the College

The RACP Research and Education Foundation was established by Council resolution for the purpose of endorsing funds to support research fellowships and physician education.

The RACP Foundation continues to fund world-class research with fellowships, scholarships, grants and prizes.

 
Feb
1994
The start of MyCPD

The Maintenance of Professional Standards (MOPS) Program, now MyCPD, began.

 
Jan
1998
New Divisons

The Australian College of Paediatrics joined the College and the Divisions of Adult Medicine and Paediatrics and Child Health were created.

 
Jan
2006
Office of the Dean

The first Dean, Kevin Forsyth was appointed and the College Deanery was established to oversee both training and continuing professional development.

 
Dec
2008
Restructuring

Changes to the College Constitution established a Board and a one-College structure.

 
Jan
2012
Growing Foundation

The RACP Foundation took on administration for the majority of awards across the Divisions, Faculties and Chapters.

 
Jan
2017
Make It The Norm

The College advocates for legislative and policy changes to make health equity the norm through action on the social determinants in Aotearoa NZ.

See how the College continues its commitment to Make It The Norm.

 
Sep
2020
COVID-19

As coronavirus sweeps the world, the College quickly adapts to changes in our hospitals, medical training and education programs. 

During this extraordinary public health crisis, our members lead the way in evolving models of care, research and new advocacy efforts.

 
Mar
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