Twenty-six years after Melissa Garwood was born at Sunshine Hospital she has returned to the hospital to start a career as a doctor.


Melissa is one of 62 doctors starting their medical internships at Western Health in 2017. The group of freshly minted university graduates are an interesting bunch from diverse backgrounds.

The year’s new interns include doctors who completed their medical degrees in the Australian defence forces, a competitive swimmer, and a folk singer who also produces a medical comedy podcast called Humerus Hacks.


Melissa grew up in St Albans and overcame numerous barriers to become a doctor. As a teenager at Taylors Lakes Secondary College, Melissa shone academically. But her family struggled to afford to pay for her schoolbooks, her uniform and other items.


In Year 8 the school’s student welfare co-ordinator nominated Melissa for a scholarship from Western Chances, a non-profit organisation that helps young people in Melbourne’s west reach their potential.


She was awarded the scholarship, receiving help to pay for educational expenses throughout school and at the University of Melbourne, where she completed a medical degree.


“I’m really grateful to Western Chances because even though I’ve received other scholarships at various times, Western Chances has been with me all the way through,” said Melissa, who did her clinical post-graduate training at Northern Health.


“I’m really excited to become a doctor and have the opportunity to work in the west at Western Health. It has an increasingly popular reputation among medical graduates as a great place to work.


“I’ve heard from my University of Melbourne colleagues that Western Health has a welcoming and supportive culture that doesn’t depend on a hierarchy. Junior doctors are invited to feel comfortable to approach senior doctors with questions and problems.


“I feel excited but terrified at the same time to start my internship, so having reassurance that it’s okay to ask questions and seek help is a huge relief.”

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