Supporting Peta’s rural medicine plan

27 March 2020

Medicine gives me an opportunity to make a significant and lasting impact in rural communities

Peta O'Brien has a clear goal in mind: use her medical degree to support rural communities.

Peta is a first year student at the ANU Medical School, and a Bill Nicholes 'Willigobung' Scholarship for Medicine recipient.

The late Bill Nicholes, a retired farmer, funded the scholarship to support students studying graduate medicine at ANU. It is believed that Bill's own experiences with medical support in rural areas contributed to his decision to support scholarships in medicine.

Growing up in Parkes, Central West NSW, Peta saw first-hand the impact a shortage of medical doctors has on rural communities. A lack of permanent doctors, long wait times, and travel to see specialists are some of the issues that inspired her to study medicine.

"Medicine gives me an opportunity to make a significant and lasting impact in rural communities," says Peta.

While Peta's will to study medicine was strong, she had to consider other factors such as finances.

"My parents are both farmers and have been hit hard by the recent drought conditions and consequently they were not in a position to be able to financially support me. Without the Bill Nicholes Scholarship, I would not have been able to attend, as I simply did not have the financial means to do so. It has allowed me to study without the stress of financial burden."

Receiving the scholarship enabled Peta to attend a medical school that offered opportunities suited to her career goals.

"When looking at medical schools I was also aware that ANU has a rural program where students can attend one of several different rural clinical schools including Bega, Eurobodalla, Young, Goulburn, Cooma and Cowra. I was excited about the prospect of being able to complete part of my training at one of these rural locations."

In the future, Peta hopes to open a general practice in Central West NSW or relocate to a rural location where health worker shortages exist.

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