Friday, 23 February 2018

Med-Toring opens a world of health careers

Bella Collett thought she was working hard towards a career in medicine until last year’s Monash-sponsored mentoring program for secondary students opened a world of other options. While she’s now settling into a business administration traineeship with Monash Rural Health Mildura having deferred a place in a radiography course, a year ago she was feeling anxious about her future.

The Med-Toring program gave Bella Collett a new look at health careers - much to her relief.

What do I do if I don't get into medicine?

“It's so hard to get into medicine. I thought if I don't get in, what am I going to do with my life? I didn’t know until the Med-Toring program that there are other options.”

Med-Toring invites Year 11 and 12 students at Sunraysia secondary schools to a monthly session that provides information about health careers.

“I absolutely loved it and met these incredible med students that I ended up looking up to.

“At school, we had presentations from people from university saying, medicine's a really great thing to do, how you get in, whatever. But these are students who are actually doing the course right now. They could tell us exactly how it is right now. They're just like us. They're a bit older but, we can relate to them a lot more.”

Passionate radiographer: could this be for me?

The program gives students a taste of clinical skills such as wound stapling using ham steaks and plastering, and helps them with study strategies and university applications. But it wasn’t only fun clinical activities and encouragement from the medical students. Nor was it only about medicine.

At the start of each session a different health professional practising in Mildura would give a presentation; among them, paramedics, audiologists and, importantly for Bella, a radiographer. Isobella remembers that the visiting radiographer talked passionately and happily about her job, telling exciting stories.

“My ears kind of perked up and I thought, maybe this could also be for me?”

“I remember coming home and just sort of breathing a sigh of relief and going - thank gosh there's other options out there for me that I genuinely think I'll love.”

There are other health careers out there

It was an eye-opener for someone who’d aimed diligently for academic excellence in pursuit of a medical career.

Bella grew up on a farm in Nangiloc about 50 km south-east of Mildura, but the family moved to Mildura when she started high school so she didn’t have to catch two buses to get to school.

“Mum always said: what we put into life is what we get out,” she recalled. So she’s always thrown herself into study and sport. A keen tennis player, she represented Victoria at national events, but she was always committed first to her studies, even when she was away playing tournaments.

Dedication alone wasn’t enough to show her alternative career pathways, though. She’s not sure radiography will be her final career, but it’s a good start.

“I can’t say how much the [Med-Toring] program benefited me. All year I was kind of tossing and turning about medicine, but I kind of stuck with it. I thought it would be the only fulfilling job for me. But you know, there are other things out there.”

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