The town of windmills and home of the ‘coo-ees.’ With only 4000 residents, 45 minutes north of Dubbo in NSW, Gilgandra is where Courtney Gale grew up and where she began to dream of being a doctor.
CEF Gilgandra & District
Bachelor of Medical Science/Doctor of Medicine
University of Newcastle
Year of study:
4th year (2nd year Medical Science)
CSU Three Rivers UDRH, 2019
After graduating from Gilgandra High School in 2017, Courtney started her education journey with medical science in Sydney. Ever determined to become a doctor, she moved to Newcastle and into a physiotherapy degree.
Then, after sitting the UCAT – a two-hour clinical aptitude test – a third time, was accepted in to a Bachelor of Medical Science/Doctor of Medicine at the University of Newcastle.
Since making the move to Newcastle, she has loved every second of university life. A country girl at heart, she finds comfort in the fact that she is only a 4-hour drive from home.
We asked Courtney about her dreams and the challenges she has faced, and about how CEF has helped her in pursuing her education goals.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT STUDYING MEDICINE?
I absolutely love what I study, and am fascinated each and every day by what we learn.
We are presented with a case at the start of each week, and brainstorm potential diagnoses. The rest of the week is spent learning the science behind the topic of the week. We reach a diagnosis and discuss similar cases.
I am looking forward to our general practice placement this year, and cannot wait to be in the hospital learning hands on next year.
“I love knowing that one day I’m going to be able to have such a big impact on someone’s life.”
WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT SO FAR IN YOUR EDUCATION JOURNEY?
My proudest moment has been achieving my goal of studying medicine, despite the many barriers and obstacles I encountered both as a rural student and being the first in my family to go to university.
I am proud of the persistence and dedication I put into reaching my aspirations. Every setback and rejection made me into a more resilient person, and it goes to show that there’s a way to reach your goals if you work hard enough for it.
HOW HAVE THE FUNDS FROM CEF HELPED YOU?
The generosity of CEF Gilgandra & District and CSU Three Rivers UDRH has afforded me the opportunity to study at university. I was able to purchase necessities such as textbooks, medical equipment like my very first stethoscope, and cover many of the general expenses of living away from home. It also meant I was able to live on campus at college and make lifelong friends.
WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN DIFFICULT FOR YOU IF YOU HADN’T RECEIVED SUPPORT FROM CEF?
I would have had to work more which would have impacted my study. As I was still working toward being accepted into medicine, I needed all the time I could get to focus on getting the best possible marks.
Now that I am studying medicine, the demanding workload means that having a part-time job is difficult. The support of CEF has meant that I am now able to focus solely on my studies without the pressure of trying to balance a job alongside it.
“My parents work extremely hard to allow me the opportunities I have had, and CEF has relieved much of the responsibility and burden on them.”
WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP LIKE WITH CEF GILGANDRA?
CEF Gilgandra are members of the community who I often see, and they are always keen to hear how I am going at university.
My first involvement with my local foundation was through volunteering as a waitress at a CEF fundraising night in year 10. I remember being astounded by the support and impact the foundation has on so many people.
“I have developed a great relationship with Mrs. Staggs (Joan). Her commitment to the success of rural students is truly admirable. Mrs. Staggs was my mentor in year 12 – she always believed in me and encouraged me to reach for the stars.”
FINALLY, WE POSED OUR FAVOURITE QUESTIONS TO COURTNEY – WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS FROM NOW?
I hope to be a General Practitioner (GP) working in the country. I want to be able to play a part in bridging the gaps in rural healthcare.
As a future GP I am excited at the possibility of developing strong relationships with my patients, providing continuity of care and making an impact on a level far greater than possible in any city region.
With true strength of character, Courtney demonstrates perseverance and commitment; a wonderful role model for rural and regional youth.
She says her one wish for regional students is that they start to see university as something that is attainable. Like many CEF recipients, she has approached her education with a ‘just go for it’ attitude, letting nothing stand in her way.
Her experience shows there are always alternative pathways to a chosen career; and there is support available if you work hard, never give up and dare to dream.
We look forward to the day Courtney’s dream becomes a reality, and in a small, country medical office the receptionist will be saying to the patients, ”Dr. Gale will see you now.”