Home town advantage: how staying put benefits a local community

Georgia herding cows

In her final year of high school, Georgia Austin knew that she’d have to relocate to either Brisbane, Gold Coast or Townsville to study medicine in Queensland.  

For a girl born and raised on a cotton property between Moura and Theodore, who moved to Toowoomba for secondary school, Brisbane offered the most desirable commute time to get to her two homes of Toowoomba (1½ hour drive) and the family farm (7 hour drive).

UQ’s Regional Medical Pathway is about to monumentally change the way those living in regional, rural and remote locations – like Georgia – make decisions about pursuing medical careers.

Georgia was just five years old when her father unexpectedly passed away, so she learned the harsh realities of life and death at a young age. Raised by her mother, who was a medical receptionist, Georgia decided early on that she wanted to pursue a career in medicine.

“I saw the importance of GPs in small townships and could see how exhausting it was for patients to have to re-live their medical history and re-form those trusted relationships when there was a change in medical professionals, or just not have access to the specialised care they needed in the first place,” she explains.  

Georgia was accepted into UQ’s Doctor of Medicine program through the provisional entry pathway, completing an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science before diving straight into medicine.

Georgia (centre) with friend and brother next to cotton bale

Georgia (centre) with friend and brother next to cotton bale

Georgia (centre) with friend and brother next to cotton bale

Georgia at Rural Clinical School

While she has embraced and enjoyed all the rural and regional medicine opportunities UQ offers, such as the 12-week Extended Rural and Remote placement and the year-long Year 3 and 4 Rural Clinical School placements, Georgia says she would have applied for the Regional Medical pathway if it was on offer to her when she was leaving school.  

“You wouldn’t have to leave the community that you love and in future, you have the ability to give back to that community that has raised you.

“As a doctor working in the town you were raised in, you’d have a really clear picture and unique perspective on the needs of the community, something that would take a new member of the community some time to formulate.”

Georgia with future students
Georgia on a horse
Georgia with future students
Georgia on a horse

Georgia with future students at the Rural Clinical School.

Georgia on her family's farm.

Georgia in library

In 2022, Georgia will return to UQ Rural Clinical School Rockhampton to complete her fourth and final year as a medical student and plans to continue to enjoy the opportunity to visit family during holidays.

She is ready to reclaim first place in the Best Cotton section at the Theodore Show.

This story is featured in the Summer 2021 edition of UQmedicine Magazine. View the latest edition here. Or to listen, watch, or read more stories from UQ’s Faculty of Medicine, visit our blog, MayneStream.