MD graduates answer the call for help
MD graduates answer the call for help


MD graduates answer the call for help

February 15, 2022

It’s one thing to dare to be different. It’s quite another to underpin those ambitions with action and realise change. But that’s exactly what the MD program at Macquarie University aimed to achieve and is now doing. One graduate at a time.

With the first cohort having completed their course at the end of 2021, the long journey to reimagining what an MD program, and indeed what a qualified health professional can be, has been realised. Yet, for the nearly fifty graduates, it’s just the start of their journey in health care. As intended, they’re meeting the real world head-on, equipped with compassion and insight gained from learning just a little differently.

Integrated into MQ Health, Australia’s first university-led integrated health campus, the MD program at MQ was always going to be collaborative, innovative and groundbreaking. Learning is complemented with patient-centred clinical care and high-quality health and medical research, but there’s more to the health profession than knowledge alone.

As recent graduate Jordan Griffiths explains, ‘It was a new degree, so there was a lot of thought put into what the system needs – well-rounded graduates, who give back to the community and are good at communicating and interacting with a diverse group of people.’

Based on her marks during the Bachelor of Clinical Science at MQ, Jordan was awarded an MQ Medical Leader of the Future Scholarship for the MD program. ‘When you really love something, it’s easy to study hard for it,’ she says genuinely, and it seems the decision to enter the program was both a natural progression and a perfect fit.

Jordan was initially drawn to health care after a high school trip to Africa, where she was shocked by the lack of health care. She remembers, ‘I was in a hospital with children who were so unwell from diseases we cure so quickly and easily in Australia, so the opportunity to study in India for six months as part of MQ’s MD program was very enticing. It’s not something other courses offer in such an organised and structured way.’

She adds, ‘I loved that the degree was producing culturally competent medical practitioners and encouraging students to explore beyond Australia’s borders. There is a global awareness to the program, and students can give back to different populations and interact with other cultures.’

The four-year program comprises a balance of foundational learning in the first two years and clinical study in the final two, which is how Jordan found herself working in the Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad, India, in early 2020. It was the beginning of the pandemic, and the world was increasingly chaotic – infections were rising, borders were closing and flights were being cancelled.

And so, after three months instead of six, Jordan reluctantly boarded the much-publicised last flight out of India and returned to Australia. ‘It was all very sudden,’ she remembers. ‘Although the area we were in wasn’t particularly affected, things escalated very quickly when it didn’t look like we were going to get out; it was quite frightening.’

Still, she describes the experience of living and working at a hospital with 23 other MQ students in a country that was completely different to Australia as phenomenal. ‘We were exposed to things you wouldn’t see in Australia like tuberculosis and parasitic infections, as well as a lot of advanced diseases because patients don’t have easy access to health care.

Jordan 4

‘It was confronting, but it was good for our learning to see how the doctors responded. Watching the course of a disease makes you so much more aware of the importance of what to do to prevent it.’

Access to health care is a privilege many in Australia’s big cities can afford to take for granted, but the MD program also opened Jordan’s eyes to where she might be needed closer to home. ‘For my elective placement in my fourth year, I went to Darwin in the Northern Territory.

‘I’d never been before but loved it so much and realised there are so many areas in Australia that are similar to overseas – places with less access to resources, where people aren’t getting the same care as those in the larger cities.’

Jordan found that was very much the case in Darwin, where the doctors care for a large rural and regional population, including a big indigenous population: ‘The doctors are so passionate and dedicate so much of themselves to helping, but there’s always more that can be done. I felt people needed much more help there; you feel it more than you do in Sydney.’

Now keen to pursue medicine in Australia’s rural or remote regions, listening to Jordan, you begin to understand that becoming a qualified health professional goes beyond the mind, to engage the heart. That original calling blossoms with not just skill and experience but the ability to lean into the world of the patient.

Of her placements in India, Darwin and Macquarie University Hospital, she notes, ‘It’s a very special opportunity to be so involved with someone at such a vulnerable period in their life. I’ve gained a deep insight into people’s lives and learned valuable life lessons from sitting down with patients and listening to them. We’re fortunate to experience that in medicine.’

Having now completed the course and able to reflect on this part of her journey, she says, ‘I’m so grateful to have been at Macquarie; it couldn’t have been better,’ she says. ‘It was such a unique experience to be the first cohort through; we created immediate bonds and were a small, tight-knit group, who looked out for each other.

‘There were so many supportive and engaged staff around us, too. Those at Macquarie University Hospital really took us under their wing – they wanted us to succeed and be our best. They pushed us, but also supported us in our learning and made sure we got all the opportunities we needed; they became our mentors and role models.’

It seems the MD program is completing a virtuous circle – one that’s inspiring a whole new generation of health care professionals to rethink how they fulfil their calling to help others.



Jordan Griffiths graduated with a Bachelor of Clinical Science from Macquarie University in 2017 and was awarded a Medical Leader of the Future Scholarship to enter the Doctor of Medicine (MD) program (2021). She has fulfilled placements in Hyderabad, India, and in Darwin in the Northern Territory, and on graduation has been offered a place at Westmead Hospital as an intern. She intends on specialising in emergency medicine, as the self-reliance and skills gained can be useful in many settings, including regional and rural Australia and overseas, where she can continue to fulfil her ambition to help those most in need.

Comment (1)

  1. Glenys Rosengreen

    Congratulations Jordi
    You have brought me to tears with your insight into the needs of the world and your commitment to the needs of the rural folk.Your passion for your work shines.

    Oh the places you will go !


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