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Medical intern Michelle Chiam knew she would miss her family in Malaysia when she boarded the flight to Queensland three months ago, but the 24-year-old was chasing a lifelong dream to become a doctor.
One of 15 successful applicants to travel from Canada, China, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and elsewhere for the Mater Private Hospital Townsville 2022 Intern Training Program, Dr Chiam is celebrating this year’s National Doctors’ Day in her new-found home of North Queensland.
“Many young doctors have to travel abroad to fulfill their dreams and becoming a doctor is something I have always wanted to do,” she said.
“Due to the global pandemic, it’s been hard to see my parents and siblings or have them visit, but this is an opportunity I couldn’t refuse and Townsville has become my home for my internship year.”
Dr Chiam said she was inspired by her grandmother, Lee Tai Tai.
“My grandmother used to sell food in a hawker centre back home in Malaysia — fish ball noodles and Hokkien Mee,” Dr Chiam said. “I remember how hard she used to work and I want to be like her.
“She’s proud that I’m working to become a doctor and keeps asking me why it took so long.”
Dr Chiam has had the opportunity for hands-on experience as part of Mater Private Hospital Townsville’s Junior Doctor Training Program, enabling her to put theory into practice and treat a variety of conditions from aggressive lung disease to autoimmune disorders.
The Medical Education Unit at Mater Private Hospital Townsville provides a range of clinical and educational exposure with hands-on learning.
Mater Private Hospital Townsville Principal Medical Education Officer Kate McKenzie said this was implemented through speciality rotations including ICU (Intensive Care Unit), cardiothoracic, coronary care, surgical and medical.
“The intern training program at Mater Private Hospital Townsville gives interns exposure to public and private hospital sectors, with a unique experience through a 10-week rural remote emergency rotation,” Ms McKenzie said.
“It’s a very supportive environment that advocates for interns and recognises the importance of their mental health and wellbeing.”
Dr Chiam, a Monash University Malaysia medical graduate, said starting a new chapter of her life in Townsville had been rewarding.
“I have been able to meet so many new people and look after so many patients since arriving three months ago,” she said.
“I hope one day to be a specialist in an operating theatre doing paediatrics, psychiatry or general surgery.”
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