The final year of Medicine at JCU is almost like an internship. You get to work in hospitals and rotate around different areas.
I went back to Bowen for 10 weeks. Then I had the other 20 weeks at the Townsville University Hospital. I alternated between palliative care, the emergency department (ED) and anaesthetics. Then I did five weeks in a general medicine, so that could be any ward in the hospital, followed by five weeks of surgery. During that 20 weeks at Townsville Hospital, you get variety and you try a lot of different things.
I really liked the ED. I finished ED and though I could see myself doing that for the rest of my life. That was actually really good for me. Because prior to that, I had never thought of myself as working in emergency. So that was a very good outcome from the year.
I think overall, JCU has taught me independence, which is important because I'll be able to work by myself or in a team, but know my limitations.
I think JCU's program is really structured to work in the topics, which is important because I want to work here. I want to work as a GP, I can definitely see that in the future. So studying here, we get taught all about the conditions that can affect the rural and remote communities of Indigenous populations, which is vitally important. I think without that, you'd really struggle being a good practitioner in Townsville.
It's also helped because we've gotten so much hospital exposure, we have gained so many professional contacts in the hospital over the last three to four years. Just that alone is invaluable in our future careers. When we are looking at applying for jobs in other places, we can lean on those connections formed on placements in rural towns, in the hospitals. So I think that's been invaluable as well.
I would definitely recommend the JCU Medicine program to anyone. My friend recommended JCU to me, and I would recommend it on. It's a good university. It's six years, which is longer than the other medical schools, but I really think you need those six years, to come straight out of high school, and to grow and be ready to become a doctor. I wouldn't change it and I wouldn't have gone anywhere else.
My advice to first year students is to remember to have fun! I think we all get caught up in that first year of thinking ‘wow we're doing medicine and it has to be stressful. We have to study all the time.’ If I could turn back the clock, I'd tell myself to have a bit more fun throughout, make the most of being at uni, being 18. Enjoying that year of my life.
Dr Ainsley Walsh