A Deakin University medical student has received the 2019 George Golding Memorial Trust Scholarship for her excellence in academic studies and strong passion for rural and remote health.

Western Victoria Primary Health Network (PHN) formally announced Rachel Mahony as the 2019 George Golding Memorial Trust Scholarship recipient at a breakfast presentation in Geelong on Thursday 11 July.

Ms Mahony grew up in Port Fairy in south-west Victoria and has experienced firsthand the shortage of doctors within rural areas of Australia. She started her degree as a Doctor in Medicine (MD) at Deakin University, Waurn Ponds this year with the ultimate goal to establish a career in the south-west region.

Photo: Dr Gerard Gill, Western Victoria PHN CEO Dr Leanne Beagley, Rachel Mahony and  George Golding Committee Chairman Dr John Howell

Western Victoria PHN, Chief Executive Officer, Dr Leanne Beagley, said the purpose of the Dr George Golding Memorial Trust is to promote education in the area of medical practice and medical science by recognising academic excellence and providing financial assistance through the provision of scholarships, bursaries or prizes to students.

“The Trust also aims to support the development of stronger connections between students, general practitioners, specialists and the Deakin University Medical School,” she said.

“Rachel is a very worthy recipient of this award. She is excelling in her academic studies and has a strong passion for rural and remote health which she aspires to work in.”

The aspiring doctor also has a strong involvement with her local rowing club in Warrnambool where she has moved from competing at an elite level to coaching, volunteering and assisting young aspiring athletes, individuals with intellectual disabilities and adults who attend for basic fitness. She is now searching for volunteer opportunities in the Geelong region.

Ms Mahony said the $5000 scholarship will limit some financial pressure and assist her to devote as much time as possible to the things she loves most; volunteering within the community, participating in sport and studying to ensure she excels within her learning which will ultimately assist in becoming the best doctor she can be.

“I will use the scholarship money to bring the technology I consistently use every day within lectures, medical science practicals and clinical skills workshops up to date. I intend to use some of the scholarship to assist in purchasing a computer that will work in line with the technology I currently have. Updating this technology will enable me to gain access to current programs and apps that at present I cannot access. This will enhance my learning in the most efficient way possible,” she said.

“More importantly this scholarship will provide me with the opportunity to develop ongoing relationships with general practitioners and specialists within the south-west region, the professionals I aspire to become.

“The chance to learn from those I aspire to become will assist me in successfully achieving my dream of becoming a well-rounded, appreciated and successful general practitioner within south-west of Victoria.”

The scholarship is in memory of Dr George Golding, founder and CEO of the General Practitioners Association of Geelong, now Western Victoria PHN, who during his life devoted his time and expertise to the education and mentoring of medical students, registrars and GPs.

The selection committee consisted of a Deakin University representative, a Geelong general practitioner, a Western Victoria PHN board member and a George Golding Trust Committee member.

Selection of the scholarship recipient is based on academic merit and/or reasons of equity with a particular focus on students who:

1. are Australian citizens or permanent residents of Australia and who are studying medicine at Deakin University Medical School;

2. have a strong commitment to professional ethics and behaviour and shows promise to be a leader in General Practice within the Western Victoria PHN region;

3. intend to return to work in General Practice in these regions; and 4. were educated in these regions.

Applicants were asked to think how the Scholarship would help in their medical studies at Deakin, allow them to develop an interest in general practice, enhance community service and improve leadership skills.