A mother-of-two has moved to Orange to help address the doctor shortage in rural and regional areas.
Hannah Hawker was an English and business studies teacher at Parkes High School for a decade before she had a "pie in the sky" idea to switch careers.
"When I went to have my first son, I couldn't have him in Parkes because there was no obstetrician," she said.
"It was that thought of 'if nobody wants to come here, I'll see if I can be the person to fill that void."
Mrs Hawker, along with her partner, Todd, and their two children, Alfie and Joseph, moved to Orange at the start of 2022 so she could begin her first year of a Doctor of Medicine at Charles Sturt University.
"When I found out this program was in the works, I decided I'd just have a go at getting in and at least I could say I tried ... and here we are," she said.
"Charles Sturt really walks the walk at training rural clinicians. Placements are all in rural areas and designed to give you time to settle in and make connections."
Mrs Hawker's husband and family are from Tullamore, roughly an hour west of Parkes.
Her brother-in-law recently encountered a situation which highlighted to the doctor-in-training, why it was she made the choice to study medicine.
"Over Easter there was no GP in the town. My brother-in-law got a laceration to his arm and my father-in-law had to take him on a seven hour round trip to Dubbo," she said.
"They had to wait in triage, get five stiches, come home and he only got one hour's sleep before having to go to work. That stuff shouldn't happen."
If and when she graduates from CSU, her end goal would be to stop things like that from happening again.
"It's terrifying. Tullamore isn't isolated at all," Mrs Hawker added.
"So to think you could be two hours from a huge service like Orange and things like that are happening is awful.
"They had a wonderful GP who served the town for years and years before he retired. My goal would be to go there and work there.
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"I truly believe the best way to retain clinicians in rural areas is to train the people who already know and love it there."
Her long-term goal is to help others to start a family as a Rural Generalist with Obstetrics/ED.
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