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Indigenous GP registrar joins ATSICHS Brisbane

A new year brings new faces to our organisation and this year is particularly special as we welcome two Indigenous GP registrars to the team.

Today, we’d like to introduce you to Dr Hannah Tilling, a proud Mununjali woman with a background in occupational therapy who is excited to work with community.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I studied occupational therapy as my undergraduate degree and, while I was on a roll with studying, went straight into medicine. I graduated with my Bachelor of Occupational Therapy with Honours and Doctor of Medicine from the University of Queensland in 2015 and 2019, respectively.
Over the past three years, I have worked in various hospitals, rotating through different specialty areas.

Excitingly, I got engaged last year and am getting married soon. 

Why did you decide to go into medicine?  

Being a doctor means I can advocate for all my patients as much as possible and make a real difference in improving health outcomes for mob. My ultimate goal is to stay connected to community, providing avenues to healing and helping those in need.

Do you have an area of specialty? 

My favourite areas throughout hospital training were dermatology and paediatrics, and I particularly enjoy skin lesions, rashes and baby checks. When I finish training, I look forward to becoming a general practitioner and helping my own people and other minority groups. 

What are you looking forward to the most in your new role?

I’m so excited to work in a culturally sensitive environment alongside an interdisciplinary team passionate about health. I’m also looking forward to having a work-life balance that will help me be a better person in general and enable me to be a more holistic doctor and better aid my patients.

Why did you choose to work in a community-controlled health organisation like ATSICHS Brisbane?

I am passionate about our community’s health and connecting with patients in a friendly local setting to assist with healing.
Working with an organisation like ATSICHS Brisbane enables me to work with a range of health professionals who are culturally sensitive and understand intergenerational trauma.

What advice would you give other young Indigenous people considering a career in medicine?

​​​​​​​People always told me medicine would be too hard, too long or too difficult to get into. My advice is to tune out these kinds of statements. You can do anything you put your mind and energy into as long as you connect with the right support to enter those pathways. Surround yourself with people who support your dream, and you will go far.

Four years of studying is long, so I recommend having social supports and stress outlets as much as possible. The Indigenous Support Unit at the University of Queensland was a huge help to me, as well as drawing on other relationships such as my family, GP, community and friends. My mum also assisted me a lot when I was studying medicine. She initially worked as a hairdresser and later studied education and gained a PhD! I was lucky to have advice about the university process and a great role model in her.

There are so many areas of specialty to go into, so a career in medicine can mean different things to different people. You are bound to find some area that you really connect with. Being a doctor means that there’s always a job somewhere, so there’s a lot of flexibility around travel if that’s something you want to include in your life plan. I also encourage consideration of the range of health professions available, such as occupational therapy, speech pathology, radiography, physiotherapy and many more!

Can you tell us about your previous work experience with ATSICHS Brisbane?

While studying occupational therapy, I had a great placement with the ATSICHS Mums and Bubs groups. My supervisors at the time were really inspiring and encouraging. They were particularly helpful around areas of identity as an Indigenous person, not having shame, and supporting me to study medicine further to achieve my goals.

Do you have a message to mob about getting health checks?

My message to mob is to call and book an appointment at your local ATSICHS Brisbane clinic for a health check and a yarn. It’s difficult when life gets in the way, and there is so much going on but put yourself first. We need to take care of ourselves and empower each other.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I enjoy abstract painting, dancing, playing chess and my newfound hobby, gardening. 

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