Hi, my name is Dr. Rhiannon Russell and I'm a proud Worimi woman.
I first did four years of physiotherapy at the University of Sydney and completed that degree in 2015. I then commenced onto medicine at the Graduate Medicine School here at Wollongong University, which I started in 2016 and finished in 2019. I then commenced a junior medical officer position at the Wollongong Hospital, which I've now completed my first year of. Prior to starting medicine - as most people would be aware - there's entry programs that you do need to sit and test, that you do need to sit. And the Indigenous Centre here at the Graduate School of Medicine was very helpful and supportive and arranged for accommodation and expenses to be paid for so that we were able to sit the exam without any other financial stressors, which was really appreciated.
Starting graduate medicine at the Wollongong University was an incredible experience, especially being an Indigenous medical student. I was able to be a role model for other Indigenous medical students as well as be a role model to our non-Indigenous students.
We're really lucky at the Graduate School of Medicine that we are able to have an Indigenous support unit within our building. This provides us with significant cultural support and it also provides us with pastoral care, our provides us with pastoral care, our tutoring and any other things we may need that come up during our time here at the Graduate School of Medicine. Another advantage we have here at the University of Wollongong is Woolyungah Indigenous Centre. This provides us with a culturally safe place where we can connect with other Indigenous students who are here at the University.
During our time at the Graduate Medicine, we were able to attend the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association's conference. We attended this last year in Darwin, which was an amazing opportunity to network with other Indigenous medical students and Indigenous doctors. During my time here at Wollongong University at the Graduate School of Medicine, I was able to be a part of the Medical Society where I was able to create the first Indigenous student representative on the WUMSS Society.
At the Graduate School of Medicine, there are an array of scholarships available to Indigenous students. These are significantly helpful when you're going through your university degree. As I was fortunate enough to receive these scholarships, I was able to immerse myself in my studies completely and not have to worry about the financial stresses and burdens that you can face during a time at university. I'm really excited about what the future holds for me. I'm going to be completing another year at the Wollongong Hospital as a resident medical officer and then I hope to follow in the footsteps of my mentor, Dr. Slape, the first Indigenous dermatologist.