“I completed Year 12 as a boarder at The Glennie School and then went on to do a Certificate of Business at USQ but I ended up moving back to Charleville because I missed home so much,” Lizzie said.
“After years away at boarding school my parents were happy to have me home but made it pretty clear I had to find a job, so when I was offered a traineeship to become an Indigenous health practitioner it seemed like good timing.
“I definitely didn’t ever consider a role in health prior to that but from the second I walked into a clinic environment I knew I had found my niche and it was a feeling of home.”
A proud Torres Strait Islander woman, Lizzie decided to enrol as an online, external student with the University of Southern Queensland’s Bachelor of Nursing program while she continued to work as a health practitioner in Charleville.
“Working in a medical service environment while I was studying was so valuable. One day you’re dealing with acute, chronic conditions in elderly people and the next you’re giving immunisations to babies,” she said.
“Working in community run centres is also incredibly rewarding because you’re able to closely follow the progress of someone who has been unwell for a long time and see how they’re responding to the work of the health team that’s put them on a healthy pathway – it makes me so, so happy.”
Lizzie, 23, completed her final clinical placement at St Andrews Medical Practice in Toowoomba last month, supported by an Arrow Energy “Go Further” Indigenous Scholarship worth $5,000.
“Being a recipient of the Go Further scholarship has meant I was able to afford to move to Toowoomba full time for my final placement, buy a new laptop and focus 110 per cent on my final year of study which has made a world of difference,” she said.
Lizzie, who has already secured – and started – full-time work with Goolburri Aboriginal Health in Toowoomba, now has plans to make a world of difference to others, too.
“Doing something to better Indigenous health outcomes in Queensland has been my drive to progress through my nursing degree and I really want to use everything I have learnt both at USQ and through my previous workplaces to hopefully one day become a doctor,” she said.
“Ideally, I want to take my skills in Indigenous health back out west to where I spent my childhood and got my start in health care and it’s a dream of mine to one day have the opportunity to practice in the Torres Strait – I know that would make my Mum very proud.”
University of Southern Queensland nursing student Lizzie Mahon (USQ Photography).