The NSW Premier Morris Iemma addressed graduating medical students at UNSW last week, calling on them to show compassion in their work as doctors.

Mr Iemma said "caritas" - the Latin word for love - best encompassed the sense of compassion and care that they should deliver to their patients.

Mr Iemma recalled that when he was the Minister for Health, he used to visit emergency departments at the state's hospitals incognito, to determine how the system worked and how to improve it. He noted that compassion made a huge difference to those in need, suggesting that was what people would remember above all else.

The Premier, who later met with some of the young doctors, added that their education was a great privilege which came with a great responsibility.

Officiating at the ceremony were the Chancellor David Gonski and Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer. The Member for Maroubra Michael Daley was in the audience.

Amongst the 208 graduating students was the Uni medallist, Alice Henschke, who graduated with first class honours and the Wallace Wurth prize for the best overall performance, amongst other prizes.

Professor Denis Wakefield, head of the School of Medical Sciences, was awarded his Doctor of Science at the same ceremony. He was acknowledged for his body of published work, focusing on the pathology, clinical features, pathogenesis and treatment of inflammatory eye diseases.

Professor Patrick McNeil was given the Vice-Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence.

Earlier in the week, the Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard paid tribute to Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) graduates at a conferring ceremony in Canberra. Ms Gillard congratulated the graduates - from the schools of Business and Humanities and Social Sciences - and wished them success and luck in their future careers.