Sarah remembers the moment she realised what she wanted to do with her life.
She was in Year 11 at Kilmore International School and took part in a National Youth Science Forum at the University of Melbourne’s Department of Rural Health in Shepparton.
Sarah left that event with a plan to study medicine and she is currently in her third year of medicine at the University of Melbourne, based at Goulburn Valley Health in Shepparton.
“I wasn’t a sporty child but I loved chemistry and biology and when I took part in that science forum I met medical students and had a tour of the university’s facilities and I was blown away. I didn’t realise you could do health training and get such a great education in a rural area,” says Sarah, 24.
“I’m from Seymour, I love being part of a community and once I qualify I want to be a GP in a regional area. A large part of that is because I like knowing the end of the story. In hospital you treat someone, send them off and never know what happens to them. As a country GP, I like the idea of having continuity of care and knowing people’s stories.”
Sarah studied biomedicine before starting her four-year medical program and decided to study in regional Victoria because of the opportunities for ‘hands-on’ experience. As well as Shepparton, Sarah’s been based in Wangaratta and Echuca to train in women’s health and aged care.
“There are huge benefits when you learn in a regional centre because there are not as many healthcare professionals in the hierarchy. When you go in to surgery there may be the surgeon and one other person and if they need a third set of hands, that will be you!” says Sarah.
“I just finished my paediatric rotation and I saw children with meningitis and respiratory tract infections. I helped treat premature babies in special care and it’s magical to see those babies go home. It’s very rewarding to know that local communities benefit from having us medical students here and because we have a good experience in regional Victoria, a large percentage of us want to stay in regional areas.”
Sarah has been keen to immerse herself in everything that Shepparton has to offer. She plays mixed netball and has been part of the Smith Family tutoring program that provides free tutoring to high school students who may not otherwise be able to access help with their studies.
“I like the friendly community feel here. I’m definitely a country girl!” she says.
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