Dr Ralph McConaghy graduated from UQ Medical School in 1979. He undertook six years of postgraduate training at the Royal Brisbane Hospital during which time he was awarded a Post-Graduate Diploma in Obstetrics (DRACOG). He spent the next 20 years in general practice with a wide range of interests – in particular – obstetrics (he ceased doing his own deliveries in 1992), chronic pain, community palliative care, undergraduate and postgraduate education. He obtained his specialty general practice qualification in 1992 (FRACGP).
In 1994, Dr McConaghy spent a year working in the UK to expand his knowledge of oncology and palliative care. In 1996 he obtained a Post-Graduate Diploma and then, in 1998, a Master’s Degree in primary health care – Majoring in Palliative Medicine (MPHC). On graduation from Flinders University SA, he received the ‘Chancellor’s Commendation for Outstanding Academic Achievement’. He subsequently was awarded a scholarship to undertake a Master’s Degree in the management of pain (MMed). This was completed at the University of Sydney in 2004.
Throughout his time in general practice Dr McConaghy devoted an increasing amount of time to community palliative medicine, providing medical support to Karuna and Spiritus nursing services, and regularly acting as relieving director for the Mater and Logan hospital palliative care services. He finally left his practice in 2006 to work full time in palliative care and was awarded his specialty palliative medicine qualification (FAChPM).
He was appointed director of Canossa Palliative Care Unit in late 2006 and became director of the Wesley Palliative Care Service in 2007.
Dr McConaghy continues his long-standing commitment to understand and ease suffering in its many forms – physical, emotion and spiritual. He recognises the profound effects advanced disease has upon patients and on those who love and care for them. It is his desire, wherever possible, to reduce the burden of the disease and its treatment, provide practical assistance and support with the full involvement of patients and families, allowing an increase in their choice and control.
For such goals to be fully realised, an effective team of professionals is required and Dr McConaghy is keen to liaise with treating physicians, general practitioners, community nursing services and allied health professionals.
This approach is appropriate for those whose disease has advanced beyond the stage of curative treatment and also for those experiencing a high level of distress even though their treatment may indeed be curative. It also extends beyond cancer to other advanced disease states such as heart and renal failure and neurological disorders.