After completing his studies at St Vincent’s Medical School, Dr Jonathan Quin has returned in 2019 as an intern. The Quin family has a long association with St Vincent’s, and a tragic past.
‘I was born at St Vincent’s, my grandfather trained and worked here, and my great-grandfather trained here,’ Dr Quin says.
Dr Quin’s great-grandfather Dr Bernard Quin is still remembered fondly on the island of Nauru. A street and several Nauruans are named after him, and a monument dedicated to five Australians bears his name.
Moving to Nauru with his wife and five young children to escape the Great Depression, Dr Bernard Quin became fond of his work and the Nauru people, establishing a health service on the island and training several local people as nurses.
When German Raider ships reached Nauru in 1940, it was no place for a family and the Quin family returned to Melbourne. The Australian Government however, asked Dr Quin to return as a medical officer to look after Australian troops and the Nauru people.
At the end of 1941 when Japan entered the war, Australia withdrew its troops. Dr Quin and four other Australians, having come to love the Nauruans, chose to stay.
Tragically, Japanese troops overran the island, imprisoning Dr Quin and his four Australian colleagues. Then, in March 1943, in retaliation for American bombing, the men were beheaded. Dr Quin was 49 years old.
After the medical profession skipped a generation in the Quin family, Dr Quin says his grandfather was very proud he had chosen to follow in his footsteps. ‘He gave me his old medical case, a huge case with old stethoscopes and surgical implements,’ he says.
‘St Vincent’s is a great hospital, with a fantastic ethos. I’m looking forward to the responsibility of caring for patients, which is a bit scary, but also very exciting.
‘Last year I primarily observed and did small tasks. Being able to diagnose my first patient will be a special moment.’