Wiradjuri student named first UQ Medical Society Indigenous Officer

9 Jul 2015

A Wiradjuri nurse from New South Wales has been named the first Indigenous Officer for The University of Queensland Medical Society.

Melissa Carroll will use this week’s NAIDOC celebrations at Musgrave Park to further cement her role engaging and advocating for UQ’s current and future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

“I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by an inspiring group of people who encouraged me to consider options and to never be satisfied with black and white, or that age should not prevent me from reaching my potential,” said Ms Carroll.

It was this support that led her to return to university as a mature-aged student to qualify as a medical doctor.

“Thinking back, I would only dream about one day being a doctor, it seemed such a distant life to the one I was used to,” said Ms Carroll.

“Through my own challenges and observing those of my peers, I have come to see the importance of encouraging and supporting our colleagues through their journey and inspiring the next generation of potential doctors.

“Mentoring is something I feel very passionate about and feel that, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, it is paramount that we take on a holistic approach to our studies addressing the academic requirements but also our social and emotional wellbeing.”

UQ has 23 Indigenous medical students, with increasing numbers each year.              

Her role also means she provides liaison between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, the School of Medicine, the UQ Medical Society and other agencies and groups.  

Although she initially dreamed of becoming a police officer, Ms Carroll spent close to 15 years living and working in Melbourne after completing a Bachelor of Nursing.

“Thankfully though this was a natural fit and saw me working in infectious diseases in the acute care setting for around 10 years,” she said.

Ms Carroll then completed a Masters in Public Health while working as a public health nurse in the Victorian Department of Health’s Tuberculosis Control Program.

Now that she’s set her sights on becoming a doctor, she is in her third year at The University of Queensland and looks forward to graduating in December next year.

“I am thoroughly enjoying my studies particularly now that I am back where I feel most at home – on the wards and back in the hospital setting,” she said.

Media: School of Medicine Brian Mallon, 07 3365 5254, 040 362 1109 or b.mallon@uq.edu.au

What: NAIDOC Family Fun Day at Musgrave Park

Where: Musgrave Park, South Brisbane. Visit the UQMS/TIME/TROHPIQ tent.

When: Friday 10 July

Time: 9am to 5pm

Cost: Entry by gold coin donation

Theme: We all Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn, Respect & Celebrate.

This year the society is partnering Towards Rural and Outback Health Professionals in Queensland (TROHPIQ) and Towards International Medical Equity (TIME) to provide an activities tent with an information stall for potential future students.