COVID-19 Advice for the JCU Community - Last updated: 5 May 2022, 3pm (AEST)

Written by

Nicolette Ward

College of Medicine and Dentistry

Publish Date

18 December 2021

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Kathrin Orda, is set to become a rural homegrown hero of health.

Having grown up in Mount Isa after her family moved from Germany when she was aged eight, Kathrin has every intention of working in rural and regional communities as she embarks upon becoming a junior doctor. Kathrin reflects back on her time at JCU and describes how her clinical placement experiences has helped her feel prepared for her next steps.

Throughout my six years of medical studies I have had amazing opportunities to travel throughout Queensland and also to Broome in Western Australia and learn from some great rural generalist doctors along the way. I also feel very privileged to have been there with patients and their families, sharing the lows of a bad diagnosis to the highs of bringing a new life into the world.

“My first rural placement took me back home to Mount Isa and then up to the Aboriginal community of Mornington Island. After that, I completed placements in Proserpine, Cooktown and Broome, WA. I was also fortunate to receive the John Flynn Placement Program scholarship which enabled me to complete four placements in the rural town of Stanthorpe and further develop my understanding and love of rural medicine.

“Unfortunately, due to the COVID pandemic, I was unable to part take in any international placements such as Sri-Lanka and Fiji and was also unable to complete my elective in Germany as planned.”

Kathrin Orda at the rodeo
Kathrin Orda on placement in Mt Isa
Left: Kathrin Orda at the Rodeo in Mount Isa. Right: Kathrin Orda on placement in Mount Isa. Images supplied by: Kathrin Orda.

A small moment makes an impact

“One experience from my placements, although seemingly small, that has always stayed with me took place at a paediatric clinic. While the paediatrician was talking to the mother I went outside with her young boy and we just chatted about anything he wanted to share, waiting for his mother. My supervisor later informed me that the mother had called back to say thank you as her son was so happy that someone had let him talk about what he wanted to. To me this moment is so special as it shows that sometimes the most important thing in medicine is the simple act of showing kindness and listening to our patients.”

Benefits of staying regional

“I see myself working in regional areas in the beginning of my training to allow myself to learn skills with a good network of support and supervision and a variety of specialty areas to build up a diversity of skills. After this I hope to head out to more rural and remote communities and be able to give back to these areas.

“Working in regional and rural areas means there is no set routine as something different could walk through the door at any point which allows you to work within a very broad scope of practice.

“Beyond this, living in regional and rural areas allows you to form close community relationships and become part of a town’s ‘family’. Being a part of these communities and being able to contribute to them in a positive way is just so rewarding as you can really see the difference that you are making every day.”

Rural health role models

“My time spent learning from the doctors at Stanthorpe, and Dr James Telfer in particular, during my four placements there with the John Flynn Placement Program will continue to influence my career moving forward.

“Another special mention also has to be to my father, Dr Ulrich Orda who is the director of the emergency department in Mount Isa. His dedication and love for rural medicine has greatly influenced me and I have been able to witness the positive impact that you can have for the health of rural and remote communities if you work hard and do what you love.”

“Being able to help patients in their most stressful and difficult situations has inspired me to also want to work in critical care and emergency medicine in the future. I would also love the opportunity to work in retrieval services such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service, to help care for those most isolated.”

The JCU difference

“JCU’s focus on Indigenous and rural and remote health has prepared me to enter the workforce with a well-rounded and holistic approach. My JCU training has also prepared me to work in places with limited resources and with additional challenges of distance and isolation.”

“My goal as a doctor is to help reduce the health gaps that are seen in Australia, most prominently between our Indigenous and non-Indigenous population, as well as between our rural and remote patients and their urban counterparts.”

Kathrin was also awarded the Mick McLoughlin Memorial Prize in Rural Medicine during her second year of studies.

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