Driven by a desire to help fill a shortage of general practitioners in rural and regional areas, aspiring doctor Robert Orford is well placed to make a real impact through CQUniversity’s Bachelor of Medical Science (Pathway to Medicine) degree.
Robert, 19, is enrolled in the Regional Medical Pathway (RMP), where after completing his medical science studies, will continue into the University of Queensland’s four-year Doctor of Medicine.
Currently completing his second year at CQUniversity’s Bundaberg campus, Robert said living and studying in the region has only continued to fuel his passion to help address the challenges faced by remote communities.
“Many Australians currently have to travel a very long distance to receive even the most basic of healthcare,” Robert said.
“To me, completing this course in Bundaberg is very important to learn how hospital and health services work regionally. It means a lot.”
Having moved from Brisbane to complete his studies in 2022, he added that the value of undertaking the course in Bundaberg means he can to contribute meaningfully to the local area and forge connections within the community.
“There is a real emphasis on community. I have formed close friendships and bonds with everyone around me at CQU - which I think is a direct result of the small and friendly community on my campus," Robert explained.
“The support services are very good. There always seems to be someone around with a friendly smile ready to check in with you. There are also many programs and facilities ready to assist you with your assessments.
“Additionally, the teaching staff and faculty are friendly. The vast majority of my lecturers have fostered a relaxed environment in class, which helps promote student interaction and engagement.”
He said that the learning and placement opportunities at CQU have allowed him to apply his knowledge acquired in class to real-life scenarios, highlighting the practical and hands-on nature of the course.
“The observational placements I went on last year provided me with an insight into all the different sectors, professions and disciplines that go into running a hospital health service in the community,” Robert said.
“A highlight would have to be the diagnostic assignments I have had to complete. There is just something so satisfying about bringing together everything you have learned in class and applying it to a real-life scenario.”
To help further support his studies, Robert also receives mentorship from CQUniversity Adjunct Professor and Bundaberg General Practitioner Dr Brad Murphy OAM.
As proud Indigenous men, both Robert and Dr Murphy are passionate about closing the gap for First Nations people in regional areas.
“Growing a workforce of First Nations doctors and healthcare professionals is critical in providing the optimism of culturally sensitive healthcare. A key component is promoting career opportunities for our young emerging leaders who might embrace opportunities they may otherwise be unaware of,” Dr Murphy said.
“Bundaberg is a perfect place for students such as Robert to embrace the path of the RMP and further to the internship and specialist training pathway that will be afforded to him locally.
“Robert has embraced the chance to promote the RMP program and to advocate for First Nations health as a natural response to his personality and commitment. I greatly value the opportunity to support him in this journey.
“I hope he will take great stories of support, success, and strength with him and promote to others. There is an immense appreciation for the challenges of working outside the metropolitan area, and as such, he will become an ambassador and an advocate for those who continue working in regional, rural and remote settings.”
Robert thanked Dr Murphy and CQUniversity for the diverse and quality education he has been afforded throughout his studies.
He also highlighted the assistance he received after being awarded two Indigenous scholarships, which Robert said demonstrates the University’s commitment to students’ success.
“The financial assistance helped to support my move to Bundaberg away from family in Brisbane. It has also taken away some of the mental strain associated with juggling finances and university,” Robert said.
“For other young people considering a career in medicine, CQU can offer you experiences found in no other pathway course.
“Just jump in and get started! If you decide medicine isn’t for you, you can exit with a medical science degree and still undertake a rewarding career in the healthcare industry.”