Jessica Holster – University of Wollongong 4th year medical student

I did not come to study medicine because of any childhood dream or lifelong aspirations to save lives, which is perhaps the more conventional path into this career. I finished high school in Port Macquarie in 2009 and went straight to university to study radiography. I graduated in 2012 and commenced my career as a radiographer in Coffs Harbour.

It was during my time here that I began my journey towards becoming a doctor. A radiologist at my work noticed that I was trying to further my education through various university courses, none of which maintained my interest. He enthused me to sit GAMSAT. I battled with the thought of becoming a doctor for the simple fact that I did not believe I could possibly be smart enough or as brilliant as some of the doctors I had the honour of working alongside of.

With his encouragement and reassurance, I agreed to sit the exam and see what came of it. In 2015, to my absolute shock I passed GAMSAT and received an invitation to interview at the University of Wollongong (UOW). A dream was becoming a reality right before my eyes.

I accepted an offer to study medicine at UOW and began a journey of a lifetime. In my first year I took up the opportunity to undertake a voluntary clinical placement in Grafton Base Hospital. It was a two week ‘Rural Taster’ for those who were interested in rural medicine.

I rotated through the different departments and medical teams within the hospital, finding that I was quickly welcomed and made to feel like a member of the team. The doctors were encouraging and patient and took every opportunity to teach me.

During my Rural Taster I met the chief radiographer in the hospital imaging department and was lucky enough to arrange some holiday work. I have returned to Grafton Hospital every year since in my holidays to work within their department. This has allowed me to maintain my skills as a radiographer, form many new great friendships, gain more exposure to a rural clinical setting and in a hospital full of friendly and supportive staff.

It is such opportunities as these made possible by the University that reinforce the dream of becoming a rural doctor. I love the strong sense of community you get to experience every day and the unmatched passion to teach in a safe, nonjudgmental environment. Even though I do not know for certain where my journey will take me, I am hopeful that it will lead me to a place I can feel as inspired and encouraged as I have during my time in Grafton.