International Students Life at JCU Student stories Frica Intan Renvillia (Indonesia/Singapore)

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Frica Intan Renvillia (Indonesia/Singapore)

An unexpected path to medicine

Hailing from Indonesia and growing up in Singapore, James Cook University’s (JCU) recent medical graduate Frica Intan Renvillia never thought she would have the opportunity to become a doctor.

“I was a bit of a rebellious kid and didn’t do that well in primary school. As a result I was placed in the ‘non-advanced’ stream of secondary school in Singapore which closed doors to certain careers. But I never gave up on my dream of studying medicine,” said Frica.

Image: Frica Intan Renvillia completed the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery at JCU

Wanting to find out more about what it might be like to work as a doctor, Frica signed up as a volunteer at a Singapore hospital where she provided music therapy to older patients and counselling to young people suffering from cancer. It was there that she realised her caring nature was well-suited to a career in medicine.

“You don’t have to have the best grades or have the doctor’s gene in your family to be a doctor. Having compassion, empathy and passion are also important characteristics of being a good doctor.”

Frica’s decision to apply to study medicine in Australia and with JCU came as somewhat of a surprise for her family and friends.

“Coming to study in Townsville and Cairns was definitely a big change from a city like Singapore,” said Frica. “But I believe that if you really want something so badly, you will find a way to achieve it even if it means taking a different path to what you expected.”

JCU’s focus on providing a variety of practical experiences, including in rural and remote locations, also attracted Frica to the medicine program at JCU. However, she did have some initial reservations about spending time away from the main town centres.

“I recall on my first rural placement, I was thinking how am I going to survive? But now as I reflect back, I think the rural placements were some of the best experiences of my medical degree,” said Frica.

“I gained a wide spectrum of clinical knowledge and also learnt about the cultural background of different communities. Everyone’s really friendly and welcoming and you get the opportunity to engage completely.”

The flexibility to also arrange placements according to your own interests was another benefit of studying at JCU, and Frica was able to complete some of her practical placements in Singapore.

“In third year I did part of my emergency medicine placement in Singapore with the ambulance service as I wanted to know more about paramedics and what it feels like to be at the front line. This experience helped me to understand and appreciate their role more.”

Having recently completed her medical bachelor’s degree with honours, Frica is now doing her internship year at Townsville University Hospital and is enjoying living in North Queensland.

“It suits my personality to be here as I love being close to nature and there’s so much to explore here.”

For other international students considering to study medicine at JCU, Frica recommends to ‘not judge a book by its cover’.

“Although JCU is a relatively young university and located in a regional town, the medicine program is very hand-on and you get exposed to a wide variety of clinical experiences early on in your training. At the end of the day, it’s the experience that matters to me.”

Learn more about the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery at James Cook University.