The support of the Australian Rotary Health Scholarship would allow me to engage with my clinical studies and the community in Cooma to my greatest extent. Throughout my high school, undergraduate, and postgraduate studies, I have always supported myself without the financial aid of my parents/family. I have maintained some level of paid work along with Centrelink Youth Allowance throughout each stage, although the time commitments required for my clinical studies are likely to make this more difficult to sustain. Without the need to rely on high amounts of paid work, I would be better positioned to get involved with the local community. This would be through my current hobbies such as cycling, skiing and music performance, as well as volunteering through community groups and in additional placements within my clinical studies. Whilst I try not to define myself by the adverse experiences I have faced, I recognise that my background may be considered different from the stereotypical Medical Student. … I continued to take part in my community before moving to Canberra, such as through playing charity performances and volunteering at events such as the 2018 Ironman triathlon.
During 2020, I moved in with my partner’s family (three months into our relationship), as I was notable to live in my on-campus residence during the early stages of the COVID pandemic and my main source of income at that point was working at sport and live music events. I was able to maintain my studies and finish my undergraduate with a Chancelor’s Commendation due to my performance in that year. I also continued multiple volunteer roles at my residential college. I believe that these experiences demonstrate my ability to perform under pressure, a critical skill for my ongoing medical studies. Whilst I am still keeping an open mind as my training continues, these experiences coupled with my studies up to this point have led to my interest in Rural Generalist fields such as Emergency, GP, and Drug and Alcohol work.
I see these areas as a way of marrying technical skill with my desire to help those who are often stigmatised, and making the most of the opportunities I have been granted to give back through a meaningful career.
I have been loving my time in Cooma so far, and making the most of the opportunities here. I have had my first experiences seeing patients, performing sutures, assisting in surgery, and meeting people in their first minutes and after over a hundred years of life. I am very much enjoying the dynamic aspects of rural practice, where I am often moving from GP, ward, emergency, and theatre environments within a single day. The staff in Cooma have been excellent teachers and have allowed me to integrate well into practice. I often feel like a valuable member of the treating team rather than simply a fly on the way. I have already developed strong working relationships with the local clinicians, as well as having the opportunity to work with visiting specialists and surgeons. Many of my supervisors have also been students in Cooma on long-term rural placements who have returned to work there as doctors.
I decided on studying medicine as a way of trying to use my passion for science to help people in disadvantage. Whilst it is still far too early to be making career decisions, I have particularly enjoyed working with people presenting for mental health, trauma, and drug and alcohol concerns to the Emergency Department. The Emergency Department has been invaluable for learning, with no such thing as a typical day. One moment I have been seeing kids with snuffly noses, the next I have been helping prepare people to be sent to a larger hospital in a helicopter. The ski season in particular has given me great exposure to orthopaedic presentations, with many strains, tears, and breaks to help manage. Whilst the operating theatre may be humble compared to those in larger centres, the team is incredibly strong. I have been able to see and often assist with ACL reconstructions, emergency caesarean sections, cholecystectomies. I have also been grateful for the opportunity to observe practice in the more remote town of Bombala, where increased distances and rougher terrain can impact on accessing care. This distance has also impacted on me as well. Whilst it has been difficult with my fiancé living over five hours drive away, I am absolutely still thinking that Cooma was the correct choice for starting my clinical training.
I have been cycling, skiing, and seeing the landmarks throughout the region. I have seen from the tallest point in Australia as well as been underground at Yarringobilly Caves. I’ve even joined a netball competition with the other students despite never having had played netball in my life. I grew up in a coastal region on the NSW Mid North Coast, and riding my bike alongside paddocks of cattle and sheep has been very exciting difference. The social and cultural aspects of Cooma also have made it a unique town for learning my medical foundations. The history surrounding the Snowy Hydroelectric scheme and the current Snowy 2.0 scheme have allowed me to meet people from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. This has led to outside-the-box thinking in order to achieve good outcomes for people with financial difficulty and no access to Medicare. The ski season has also brought through a gigantic influx of people to the region, which both creates a vibrant town and a busier healthcare setting. I would highly recommend rural training to other healthcare students, and am excited to see what the rest of the year holds in store.