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Written By

Rachelle McCabe


College of Medicine and Dentistry

Publish Date

19 January 2023

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Catherine Adebiyi has always been drawn to medicine.

Growing up in rural Dysart, a small mining town west of Mackay, Catherine watched her father Dr Sunday Adebiyi play a pivotal role in the community as the town’s only doctor. In fact, her father’s service to rural general practice medicine was formally recognised last year when he was named on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

“I did look at other career options for myself, but I always came back to medicine, I guess because it's what I knew,” Catherine says.

“Growing up watching my dad working as doctor, I saw the difference he was making in our small community, and I guess that inspired me to become a doctor myself.”

Health has become a common theme for the career aspirations of the Adebiyi family. Catherine’s sister Alice is a dentist, her other sister Anna is a nurse, while mum Bosede is studying social work. Catherine's brother David, the youngest of the family, is yet to finish high school.

Catherine Adebiyi and her family at her graduation ceremony 2022.

Mum’s the word when it comes to good advice

“Do your best and forget the rest”. It’s these wise words from the newly graduated doctor’s mother, Bosede, that helped Catherine push through the most stressful of times during her six-year medical degree.

“I always go back to those words. Sometimes when you're in medicine there's so much you want to do and you can’t do it all,” Catherine says.

“You just have to do the best you can, accept what you can’t do and move on with life. Life will go on.

“My mum always says that, especially when I'm stressed.”

Like many of her fellow students, the close-knit friendships and familiarity with her fellow students is what Catherine will miss most now she’s completed her medical degree.

“It’s hard to comprehend that I won’t see all my friends almost every day. We all had classes together and those classes really became a social setting. When you are with the same people for six years studying so much you build really good friendships,” she says.

“When we all start working it will be difficult to stay in touch because everyone has different timetables, everyone will be working hard, we’ll be tired and busy, and we’ll be working all over the place.

“Seeing my fellow students regularly is probably the main thing I’ll miss about university.”

Catherine and JCU students on an Outback adventure
Catherine at a JCU Road Show
Camel Races in Mount Isa
Catherine and other JCU students exploring the Outback In Mount Isa (Images supplied by Catherine Adebiyi).

Priceless placements

Catherine has travelled all over Queensland for her JCU placements, but there are a few in particular that she says were standouts.

Her final years of clinical placement at the Mackay Base Hospital were an amazing learning opportunity, Catherine says.

“We got a lot of hands-on time with the doctors at Mackay. The hospital was set up so there were more doctors and fewer students, giving us students a wonderful opportunity to learn,” she says.

“The other placement I loved was Mount Isa. It took a while to get there, but once I was there I loved it.

“Again, it was a case of fewer students and more doctors, so I got to practise a lot of hands-on medicine. We experienced that important one-on-one time and the opportunity to ask lots of questions.

“The hospital operated at a good pace so you could really take time to understand the patient as opposed to other very busy hospitals where you need to work quickly with the patient so you can attend to the next waiting patient.

“Placement is always the best because you get to do practical work we’ve been training for.”

Catherine even found time to take in some quintessential Mount Isa entertainment during placement.

“We watched the camel races; that was a lot of fun! I never would have thought camels would race each other at an event, I guess it was a real reminder of how unique the Outback is.

“Even to go along to the local rodeo was really interesting and fun, I’ve never gone to events like that before.”

A stint in Mount Isa as a practising doctor could be on the cards for Catherine down the track.

“Honestly, I’d be happy to move to Mount Isa and work in that community, but we’ll see, I’m in Townsville at the Townsville University Hospital (this) year.”

Catherin in the hospital at Mount Isa
Catherine at Mount Isa Hospital
Catherine at Mount Isa Hospital (images supplied by Catherine Adebiyi)

Looking ahead to life as a junior doctor

As for the future, Catherine has a keen interest in psychiatry and orthopaedics.

“I'm keen for diversity. I like psychiatry, which is a lot of talking to people and understanding their minds, but I also like surgery which doesn’t involve a lot of patient contact as the patient is asleep half the time,” she says.

“I just need to experience more. At this stage, I’m leaning towards surgery, but we’ll see, psych is still an interest to me.”

For now, Catherine says she’s looking forward to learning as much as she can during her internship at the Townsville hospital this year.

The JCU rural placement program is not only shaping our future doctors but also providing significant value to the communities our students are training in. Read about how another recent JCU Medicine graduate Marina Khair made the most of her extended rural placement on the Atherton Tablelands.

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