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Campus News : December 2010
www.uow.edu.au University of Wollongong Campus News December 2010 3 a very nice learning environment. Being the first ones through means we've been the experimental 'kids', but the staff have been very receptive to feedback. It has been a real privilege to be part of this first group." Murray, 32, lives in Kiama Downs. He trained as a physiotherapist and worked in Tasmania and Nowra before enrolling in the medical course. Now he is following in the footsteps of his father Blair, who is a General Practitioner in Tamworth. "Dad always wanted to be a rural doctor, and I realised that I did too," Murray said. "I enjoyed working in patient care (as a physiotherapist) and enjoyed the health care environment, but I was looking for a new challenge. Working alongside doctors (in hospitals) made me realise that was what I really wanted to do. "At first Dad told me I was mad to study medicine, but now he is very excited and loves talking about what I am studying." It was a happy coincidence that UOW established a medical course with a strong focus on training doctors to work in regional and rural areas at precisely the time Murray was considering returning to study. "Wollongong's course suited my goals perfectly, and studying here allowed me to stay living on the South Coast." He said the course "delivered on expectations". "It gave us a good foundation of theory and clinical skills, so I feel as well equipped as a pre-intern can be. I'm approaching my internship (to be spent at Wollongong, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven and Bulli hospitals) with a mixture of trepidation and excitement -- which is probably a healthy combination for me and my patients!" Murray plans to remain in the Illawarra after his internship, working in the hospital system. His long- term goal is to become a hospital physician, working in Intensive Care or specialising in renal medicine or oncology. Murray's Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree is just part of a busy journey he's travelled over the past four years. He and his wife Angela, who is also a physiotherapist, have had three children while he has been studying -- Liam, 3½, Hamish 1½ and Angus, who was born in November. "Life has been wonderful, but very, very busy," he said. "The fact that I got through reflects how good Ang has been with the children, especially at exam time." NH The University of Wollongong's 2010 December Graduation is a historic occasion as the University celebrates the first cohort of medical students completing their studies at the Wollongong and Shoalhaven campuses. It has been an extraordinary four-year journey for the pioneering Class of 2007 -- the first students to complete the Graduate School of Medicine's innovative course with its strong focus on clinical training and preparing doctors to work in regional, rural and remote locations. Campus News spoke to two of the graduating students, Amanda Carter who studied at UOW's Shoalhaven campus and Murray Campbell who studied at Wollongong. Milton pharmacist Amanda Carter had wanted to make the transition from dispenser to prescriber of medicines since soon after she graduated with a pharmacy degree from the University of Sydney in 1984. "I taught in the pharmacy course at Sydney Uni after I graduated, and it really whetted my appetite for studying medicine," Amanda said. But a move to Milton on the South Coast to run a community pharmacy business and the responsibility of raising four children and looking after a six-acre property seemed to have put that ambition on hold -- permanently. That all changed in 2006 when a pathologist friend alerted Amanda to the fact that UOW was about to open the Graduate School of Medicine (GSM), and would be locating a cohort of students at its Shoalhaven Campus. "Suddenly it was possible, because the Shoalhaven Campus was close enough to home," Amanda said. "And the School was looking for students who came with a varied portfolio of professional and life experiences, and had connections with regional and rural communities." Amanda was accepted into the GSM's first cohort in 2007 after she successfully completed the Graduate Australian Medical School Admission Test (GAMSAT) and the School's internal interview process. She admitted that taking on complex study after a long break had been a major challenge, although her pharmaceutical background was a definite plus. "Being able to study at the Shoalhaven Campus in a small group was my saving grace," Amanda said. "It was such a supportive environment, and everyone banded together like a family." Amanda also had study support at home. During her time at the GSM her two eldest children, Sally and Hugh, both completed the Higher School Certificate and have gone on to university themselves. "It was good for me and good for the children to be studying at the same time. It meant we had some mutual understanding of what we were going through," she said. Her study commitments meant Amanda had to employ a pharmacist to run the business, but she still managed to maintain a consultant pharmacist role, wrote articles for industry journal Australian Pharmacist, conducted home medicine reviews and mentored pharmacists seeking accreditation. Amanda Carter was a pharmacist in Milton when she decided to re-train as a doctor through UOW's Shoalhaven Campus. HISTORIC FIRST GRADUATION "Time management was a challenge, especially juggling family responsibilities," she admitted. "But fortunately I am a bit of a nerd who loves to study." Under the GSM's clinical-based training program, Amanda did much of her training at Shoalhaven Hospital, with stints at Wollongong and Shellharbour Hospital for psychiatric, surgical and paediatrics experience. Her general practice training was at GP clinics in Ulladulla, which also involved days at the emergency department of Milton Hospital -- familiar territory as she had been the hospital's pharmacist for many years. "Having such a strong focus on clinical training was extremely valuable," she said. "It put what you were learning into practice and really gave it relevance. And I learned so much from the GPs and other practitioners." Amanda also received help and guidance from her GSM mentor, UOW Deputy Chancellor and leading pathologist Dr Stephen Andersen. "Stephen Andersen was a wonderful help, who seemed to know just when to contact me with encouragement and support when I needed it most," she said. She paid special tribute to Milton- Ulladulla doctors Paul Rothe ("a wonderful mentor and father figure") and Brett Thompson ("a driving force for the medical school in the area") for their support and encouragement, and said she plans to join the area's GP ranks when she completes her two-year internship at Shoalhaven Hospital. "I am looking forward to returning as a doctor to my community where I know so many people," she said. "Everyone has been so supportive throughout my studies, and it will be good to be able to give something back." NH Shoalhaven Campus a prescription for success