Indigenous graduate’s chance pathway to medicine – UQ News

A University of Queensland graduate can partly thank school holiday boredom for setting him on a career path in medicine.

Newly conferred Dr Ella Ciolin was encouraged by a high school teacher to join UQ’s Aboriginal Outreach Programme, InspireU, When he was 11 years old.

“It was in the school holidays which I wasn’t too keen on, but I had nothing else to do and I was a bit on a whim,” Dr Ciolin said.

“It was a huge eye-opener and I actually came away with the decision that I wanted to be a doctor.”

The proud Djabuguy/Wulgurukaba woman, who also has Italian and Malaysian heritage, graduated from UQ this week Doctor of medicine.

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“I always thought I would follow my mother, aunt and sister into teaching because of what I saw and what I knew,” Dr. Ciolin said.

“I didn’t know any Aboriginal doctors before I started medicine, that visibility wasn’t there for me.

“But it can make a huge difference.

“When my nephew was little, he said, ‘If you’re going to be a doctor, does that mean I can be one?'”

Three women stand on a stage in front of a sign for the UQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sashing ceremony.  The young woman in the center wears a black, red and yellow sash and smiles broadly.Dr Ciolin has since served on the board of the Australian Aboriginal Doctors Association, which supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors and medical students.

“It’s about advocating for greater presence in the health workforce and contributing to equitable health outcomes,” she said.

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“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the oldest living cultures, so they are the oldest healers in the world.

“I think it’s really great to be able to continue that ancient practice of healing in modern medicine.”

Dr Ciolin is one of 6 Indigenous graduates from UQ’s Doctor of Medicine in 2022.

He has accepted a job offer from Queensland Health as a junior doctor in Rockhampton from January.

“I spent the last two years of my medical degree at UQ Rural Clinical School in Rockhampton and really enjoyed it,” said Dr Ciolin.

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“I particularly liked the rotations in obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry and orthopedics but right now I’m keeping my options open.”

Dr. Ciolin says he is glad he found a path to study medicine.

“It’s hard and takes a big toll on you mentally, but if I didn’t love it I wouldn’t be doing it,” he said.

“I enjoyed it every step of the way.”

Pictured above left: Dr Ella Ciolin Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry (L) and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement) Professor Bronwyn Fredericks (R) at the UQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sashing ceremony.

Media: UQ Communications, [email protected]+61 (0)429 056 139.

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