Good Shepherd Catholic College graduate Dr Kathrin Orda is one of James Cook University's new homegrown crop of rural doctors.
Dr Orda grew up in Mount Isa after her family emigrated from Germany when she was eight. Her parents, Dr Ulrich Orda, director of Mount Isa Hospital's Emergency Department, and Sabine Orda, a medical educator, have turned the North West Queensland city into a key training ground for rural doctors.
Kathrin was the joint winner of the Peter Doyle Medal, awarded to the final-year student voted by most deserving by the graduating class. She also received the Child and Adolescent Health Prize for the student who demonstrated the highest ability in paediatrics. She has just started her internship at Townsville University Hospital.
Dr Orda said her father's dedication to and love of rural medicine was a big influence. "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," she said.
"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."
All JCU medical students do at least 20 weeks of rural placements during their degree as part of JCU College of Medicine and Dentistry's commitment to building a fit-for-purpose medical workforce for underserved communities in Queensland.
"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," Dr Orda said.
"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."
A John Flynn Placement Program scholarship enabled her to complete four placements in the town of Stanthorpe and further develop her understanding and love of rural medicine.
Professor Sarah Larkins, Dean, JCU College of Medicine and Dentistry, said JCU was proud to train doctors "from, in, with, and for rural, regional and remote communities".
"Around 70 per cent of our students come from rural, regional or remote backgrounds, three-quarters of JCU medicine graduates 'go rural' after graduation, and almost half of our graduates are now generalist practitioners, far more than any other university in the country," Professor Larkins said.
She said despite graduating just 2.4 per cent of the national output of doctors, around 50 per cent of rural, regional and remote doctors in Queensland were JCU graduates.
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