Anderson Stuart Building being constructed, c. 1920

Our history

Pioneering teaching in medicine and health for over 150 years
We have been at the forefront of medicine and health in Australia since our inception. As healthcare changes, we will change with it, continuing our strong tradition of excellence into the future.

Early years

The Faculty of Medicine and Health can trace its origins back to 1856, only four years after the University’s inception, when the University Senate formed the then-Faculty of Medicine.

Under the guidance of Anderson Stuart, teaching began in 1883 with the Faculty. Stuart was a pioneer of University-based medical education in Australia, at a time when most English practitioners were still the product of apprenticeships and hospital-based medical schools.

The first medical class had only six candidates; this number had increased to nearly two hundred by the turn of the century. 

20th Century

Teaching expanded into the areas of pharmacy, dentistry, public health, nursing and health sciences throughout the century, with the formation of the Sydney Pharmacy School, the Sydney Dental School, the Sydney School of Public Health, Sydney Nursing School and the Sydney School of Health Sciences.

As new disciplines joined the University, we continued to pioneer education in medicine and health. Both the Sydney Dental School and the Sydney School of Public Health were the first schools of their kind in Australia, and our nursing staff were part of the movement that saw the shift of nursing education to the tertiary system - an instrumental step for the profession of nursing.

The future of medicine and health

Healthcare, both in Australia and overseas, is undergoing significant change.  To recognise this, the University brought together the disciplines of dentistry, medicine, medical sciences, nursing, pharmacy, public health and health sciences together to become the Faculty of Medicine and Health.  

Timeline of medicine and health

  • RPA Hospital, circa 1883.

    19th century

    1856: Sydney Medical School is formerly established. It is the first medical school in Australia.

    1883: Medicine teaching officially begins. Students undertake placements at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, in what will become the Central Clinical School.

    1884: Sydney Hospital for Sick Children Glebe is recognised as a teaching hospital. It will later move to Westmead and form part of the Children's Hospital at Westmead Clinical School.

    1889: The University begins educating pharmacists through the Materia Medica degree.

  • Edward Ford Building, home to the Sydney School of Public Health, c1930

    1900 - 1950

    1901: Sydney Dental School opens at Chalmers Street with 17 students, offering a three-year curriculum leading to a Licence in Dentistry.

    1930: The Sydney School of Public Health is established. It is the first school of public health in Australia.

    1948: Northern Clinical School begins operation out of Royal North Shore Hospital.

    1949: The NSW College of Nursing is established. The College offered post-graduate courses for registered nurses and lecturers from the University of Sydney taught some subjects for these courses.

  • Cumberland Campus

    1950 - 1999

    1975: The Cumberland College of Health Sciences (previously the NSW College of Paramedical Studies) is established at Lidcombe and becomes the Faculty of Health Sciences. It teaches courses in physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology and orthoptics. It also originally taught post-graduate courses for registered nurses, in the School of Nursing and was responsible for introducing the first three-year Diploma of Applied Science (Nursing) program leading to registration as a nurse in New South Wales.

    1978: Westmead Clinical School at Westmead Hospital opens. It serves the largest area and population of any of the University's clinical schools.

    1984: The Institute of Nursing Studies is established and offered courses for nurses.

    1990: Nepean Clinical School opens at Nepean Hospital precinct in Penrith, at the foot of the Blue Mountains.

    1991: The Institute of Nursing Studies becomes the Faculty of Nursing and offers courses for nurses at the undergraduate and postgraduate level.

    1994: The School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences is integrated into the Faculty of Nursing.

    1997: Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health is created to support rural communities in far western NSW.

  • Susan Wakil Health Building (rendering)

    21st century

    2001: The School of Medical Sciences is formed.

    2001: The University Centre for Rural Health is established in Lismore as a joint venture of the University of Sydney and the Southern Cross University.

    2001: The School of Rural Health is established in rural NSW, with students in Orange and Dubbo.

    2004: The Faculty of Nursing becomes the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery

    2011: The Sydney Adventist Hospital Clinical School officially opens and is the first clinical school based in a private hospital in NSW, then the Sydney Nursing School, Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery (2011) and then the Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery (2017).

    2018: The Faculty of Medicine and Health is established, bringing the schools of dentistry, medicine, medical sciences, nursing, pharmacy and public health together.

    2019: The Faculty of Health Sciences moved into the Faculty of Medicine and Health and became the Sydney School of Health Sciences.

    2021: The new health precinct, including the Susan Wakil Health building opened, bringing together our disciplines into a single precinct for the first time.