Doctor-to-be Nicole Whitson paves the way for Indigenous students

Friday, 6 April 2018


Following in the footsteps of her Aunty, Professor Gail Garvey, Nicole Whitson is proud to be the third person to graduate from her large Indigenous family of almost 40 immediate relatives.

Commencing her studies at the University as an Open Foundation student, Nicole persevered with her studies and is now set to become a doctor, graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine with Distinction.

Nicole said she was particularly interested in medical care for Indigenous people and enjoyed the opportunity to tailor her study to reflect her interests.

“I had the opportunity to undertake placement at the Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Medical centre in Wyong, attend rural obstetrics clinics in Moree - the birthplace of my Nan, and complete an elective subject at the Menzies School of Health Research in Brisbane, which explored barriers to early diagnosis and poor outcomes in gynaecological cancers in Indigenous women,” said Nicole.

It was through this practical experience that Nicole realised her desire to specialise in high-risk pregnancy care.

Reflecting on her experience at the University of Newcastle, Nicole said she was “glad to study in a supportive environment.

“As an Indigenous medical student from a large family with little exposure to the tertiary education system, I expected to encounter challenges but I had a lot of support from the University, its Wollotuka Institute, and my husband Elliot.”

Nicole said she was grateful for her time at university, not only to realise her dream of becoming a doctor, but to have built a network of life-long friends.

“One of the highlights was definitely the close-knit community, I met some of my best friends during my studies at university,” Nicole said.

The University of Newcastle has graduated approximately one-third of Australia’s Indigenous doctors and today celebrates a proud milestone, graduating its largest ever cohort of Indigenous students from the Joint medical Program, with ten students crossing the graduation stage today.

Nicole will graduate from the Faculty of Health and Medicine at a ceremony on Friday 6 April at 2pm.