Doctor of Medicine student Andrew Feehan’s relationship with the University of Melbourne began when he was a Year 10 student at home in the north-eastern Victorian town of Wangaratta.
Doctor of Medicine student Andrew Feehan’s relationship with the University of Melbourne began when he was a Year 10 student at home in the north-eastern Victorian town of Wangaratta. He gained entry into the Kwong Lee Dow Young Scholars program, which saw him making regular visits to the University and benefitting from tutoring and seminars.
“Because of this early contact with the University, I never really considered studying elsewhere. Also, I received a couple of scholarships at Melbourne which was a further incentive. I decided to stay on and study postgraduate medicine at Melbourne because the course really appealed to me. After spending three years in lecture theatres, the fact that you are on the wards full time from second year onwards was a huge tick. Plus, the Melbourne Medical School is highly reputable and the top medical school in the country,” says Andrew.
Moving to Melbourne
Initially, Andrew, 25, found the transition from Wangaratta to busy Melbourne life a huge adjustment:
“Wangaratta has a population of 20,000 people, and I had the support of family and friends. Meanwhile Melbourne has a population of millions, and I did not know anyone when I made the move! That being said, I thrived living in Melbourne. I loved the independence, and all of the opportunities that uni life affords. In the end, it was probably the simple things that I found most difficult. Namely, the traffic (I was terrified of trams while driving for quite a while), navigating the city via public transport (there were multiple occasions where I ended up on the wrong tram line) and domestic duties such as cooking, cleaning and washing!”
But Andrew soon found much to love about the big smoke, especially for a sports lover.
“I love everything about Melbourne. I love the terrific sporting culture: the buzz before a big AFL game at the ‘G; the crowds at Flemington; the hot summer days at Melbourne Park during the Australian Open; the iconic Boxing Day test. I could go on and on – Melbourne truly is the sporting capital of the world. I also love the food and the coffee that Melbourne offers. Whether it’s fine dining, boutique bars or hipster cafes, Melbourne has you covered. It would be remiss of me to not mention the shopping as well. Coming from Wangaratta, where no shops were open past 12pm on a Saturday, it is wonderful to be able to shop all weekend!,” he jokes.
When asked about making friends, Andrew recommended being proactive and getting involved.
“There are so many like-minded people to meet at university that it’s impossible not to make friends. If you are fortunate to stay at college, you’re set! I never did stay at college, so I made friends through sporting clubs, a couple of the clubs and societies, and of course by striking up a conversation with those around me during lectures and tutorials.”
Andrew has found his time at university to be hugely worthwhile:“During my undergraduate degree I learnt from researchers who were at the top of their fields and I was able to hone my practical skills in state-of-the-art facilities. During my postgraduate degree, I have come into contact with clinicians who have inspired me. I have undertaken my rotations in wonderful hospitals and have been able to observe healthcare in other countries. The teaching at Melbourne is excellent. All of my lecturers are esteemed professors and knowledgeable clinicians who are world leaders in their respective fields. It’s impossible not to become passionate about a particular topic when the lecturer is so captivating.”
He describes the University’s location in the Parkville health precinct as one of its main advantages:
“The Parkville precinct is second to none when it comes to being a health student. The Royal Melbourne Hospital and Royal Women’s Hospital are opposite the campus, there’s the new Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre that’s just opened a stone’s throw away. As well, you are walking distance to the Royal Children’s Hospital. All of this is within 1km of the University. I know of friends who have completed all of their medical rotations and have never had to leave Parkville! It certainly is a major hub for health and medical advancement.”
During his time at the University, Andrew has begun to discover just what he is capable of:
“I have become a very independent learner. In high school, you rely on others for your learning. As you progress through university, you begin to rely less on others and more on yourself. I have learnt how to research, how to critique what I read and how to question everything.
“I have discovered that I am a resilient person. I am part of the Rural Clinical School, and so I’ve had to relocate each year. This has meant leaving my support networks behind and developing new supports. This has instilled confidence in me to be independent, so much so that I went on elective for four weeks in another country by myself.
“The proudest moment of my studies came while I was completing my medical elective in Vanuatu in January 2017, when I was able to deliver a baby girl. It was 4am, the rain was pelting down, and I was in the severely under-resourced labour ward at the local hospital. The midwife on night shift was called away to someone else, and so I had to manage this woman in labour by myself. Although slightly terrifying, it was a wonderful experience and fortunately there were no complications.”
Career in Health
The skills and knowledge Andrew has acquired at university has prepared him for a rewarding career in health:“At this point in time I am hoping to pursue a career in paediatrics. The ability to impact a child’s next 70 years, and enable them to reach their full potential, is something that does not exist in any other specialty. As for where – I want to work all over Australia; large cities, regional areas and small rural towns. With that in mind, I have no idea where I will physically be located in 10 years’ time, but wherever I am I hope to be making a difference in the lives of those around me.”
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