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Dr Helena Franco is a Junior House Officer currently on rotation at Mater Hospital Brisbane but her skills, knowledge and passion for her job have captured the attention of her peers, patients and superiors earning her a nomination for Young Australian of the Year in 2019.
Dr Franco selected Mater as her first preference to undertake her internship year, where she has an interest in surgery, paediatrics, orthopaedics and otolaryngology.
“When I was in school I always loved science however I was tossing up between doing law or medicine,” Dr Franco explains.
“I’m glad I decided to do medicine, I really enjoy the social aspect of interacting with patients and building a relationship with them.
“Mater was my first choice for a medical internship, they take a smaller cohort of doctors so I felt well supported by my mentors and I wasn’t just lost in their system.”
Dr Franco has also gained impressive experience outside of Mater where she has visited other schools and universities to expand her skills and knowledge.
As a medical student with a keen surgical interest, Dr Franco has undertaken elective studies in Otolaryngology at Yale University, Ophthalmology at Cambridge University and Neurosurgery in Melbourne.
Dr Franco is part of a global network of young doctors called InciSioN International Student Surgical Network and was keynote speaker at the 2019 International Student Surgical Conference.
In 2019 she also attended the 72nd World Health Assembly and the World Health Organisation Emergency and Essential Surgical Care Program Technical Meeting, which involved discussion of policies and programs to improve surgical access in low and low-middle income countries.
“Earlier this year I was one of seven Australians selected to attend the Harvard Medical School MIT Health Care Innovation Bootcamp,” she said.
Mater Chief Medical Officer Dr Clare Morgan said she was proud of Dr Franco’s nomination.
“Dr Franco is giving back to others in her field by sharing her knowledge, expertise and vision for improved global healthcare.”
Dr Franco believes she has a good work/life balance and credits Mater’s support of young doctors and learning culture as reasons why she chose to work here.
Despite her achievements Dr Franco remains humbled by her nomination.
“It’s nice to be nominated, but I didn’t think I would win,” she says.
Amongst tough competition, Dr Franco’s nomination for the Young Australian, Queenslander of the Year was aced by Ash Barty, the current number 1 Women’s Tennis Association player.
Mater acknowledges Dr Franco’s outstanding contribution to the organisation and wishes her ongoing success in her future surgical career.
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