Growing up on a farm in rural North Queensland, Dr Power always wanted to work in the health field, a desire driven by the loss of her brother to cancer as a child.
But as a shy teenager, she lacked the confidence to aim for medicine. It was a problem exacerbated by a school guidance counsellor who told her she wasn’t smart enough to study physics in her final years. It wasn’t until she read the story of the inspirational African American neurosurgeon, Ben Carson, that she felt she too could try for medicine.
“He came from such a disadvantaged low socioeconomic background and showed he could get to the top. He overcame so many hardships and went on to have such a big impact. It was inspiring.”
Yet she still doubted her own ability.
“I honestly thought I couldn’t do it. I graduated from a high school in a small rural town. I think I was the first to go into medicine. It seemed like something out of reach. I was just so shy and introverted.”
Despite her misgivings, Dr Power secured a place in the JCU medicine degree in Townsville. She was attracted to the program for its focus on rural, remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. She believes the rural training JCU students get during their degree gives them an edge going into their intern year.
“JCU has made a name for itself because its students learn a lot of skills in their rural placements. Whereas, you might not learn them if you go through some of the other medical schools. You certainly go into the intern year knowing you have a good set of skills.”
Many of her friends came from large families rife with poor health and high suicide rates. She saw them struggle to complete their courses while struggling with family tragedy. She also saw the impact of crippling self-doubt many Indigenous students suffer from.
But having completed medical school, her intern years and now specialist training, Dr Power would love to inspire other Indigenous students.
“I would say to them to give it a go and just believe in yourself because it is very daunting. I had such low confidence, thinking I wasn’t as good as everyone else. But you are. You’re as good as anybody else. And medicine is attainable, it is doable.”
While Dr Power is enjoying her general practice work with the Aboriginal medical service, long term she’d like to focus on preventative health with a focus on nutrition. It’s an area she sees as key to tackling chronic disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.