Dr Teena Downton

2014 Young Alumni Award

Junior Doctor, Orange Base Hospital

Bachelor of Medical Science, 2008
Bachelor of Medicine/ Bachelor of Surgery, 2012

Dr Teena Downton embodies the energy, commitment and leadership skills which the University of Wollongong aspires to develop in all its graduates. Teena purposefully challenges all stereotypes in her work, and with an inspiring and altruistic passion, she encourages others to grasp opportunities for the greater good.

Teena studied Medical Science and then Medicine at the University, graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery in 2012. She decided from those early days to use her professional knowledge and skills to improve the health outcomes of those living in rural Australia. She used her motivational flair to take others along with her and became a crusader for rural health.

Teena’s contributions during her University years are remarkable, especially for the effort and dedication they represent. She was a committee member of the Student Health Alliance for Rural Populations (SHARP) and UOW’s Rural Health Club. On a broader level, she was a council member of the National Rural Health Students’ Network (NRHSN), the peak body representing health students with an interest in rural health. She coordinated and organised local, state and national student rural health events and initiatives including the 2009 National University Rural Health Conference.

Recognised in Australia as her generation’s face and voice in rural health, Teena has spoken at national conferences of key rural health stakeholders including, among others, the National Rural Health Alliance, the National Rural Faculty of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, and the College of Remote Area Nurses Australia.

She represented students at key meetings of important stakeholders including Health Workforce Australia and wrote for several rural health publications. She contributed to key policy documents and governmental submissions by the National Rural Health Students’ Network in a time of health workforce reform.

Her achievements while still at University earned Teena recognition from many bodies, including the Rural Health Workforce Australia which recognised her for Outstanding Contribution in Rural Leadership. In 2008, the University awarded her the prestigious Chancellor Robert Hope Memorial Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement and Commitment to the University and the wider community. The following year, the Kiama Municipality named her Young Australian of the Year.

After graduation and, despite the heavy demands on a junior medical officer, Teena has continued to engage and to lead in the area of rural health. She is a member of the NSW Rural Doctors Association Management Committee, the Rural Doctors Association of Australia Female Doctors Group and the Junior Medical Practitioners in Rural Australia Special Interest Group. As markers of the respect she has earned in the Hunter New England Local Health District, Teena is the current President of the Tamworth Resident Medical Officer Association and Deputy Chair on the Junior Medical Officer Quality and Safety Committee. In the latter role, she has directly contributed to junior doctor-led initiatives that have improved the quality of care and patient safety at the District’s Hospitals.

Teena Downton is an outstanding model of engaged community leadership. She has inspired country kids at rural high school visits and Indigenous Festivals, sharing her own story and promoting health career opportunities. She has motivated health and medical students and professionals who have met her, worked with her, read her rural health articles, or heard her speak enthusiastically about rural health at events, meetings and conferences. In January this year, the Rural Doctors Association Australia Rural Roundup Magazine described Teena as a “Young Gun” and an inspiring role model for others in the rural health field.

Chancellor, Dr Teena Downton has shown how to effect change through collaboration, communication and a willingness to take on hard work. An indefatigable trail-blazer, she continues to open up opportunities for the next generation of students and health professionals to become involved in rural health and in the policies and initiatives that will influence the future.

It is a pleasure and privilege to present Dr Teena Downton for the Young Alumni Award for 2014.