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Among a new batch of interns, a doctor returns to her birthplace

Home > About Us > News > Among a new batch of interns, a doctor returns to her birthplace

​Western Health's 2017 intake
of medical interns, with Chief
​Executive A/Prof Alex Cockram

Among a new batch of interns, a doctor returns to her birthplace


Western Health's 2017 intake of medical interns, with Chief Executive A/Prof Alex Cockram (front row, centre) and intern Melissa Garwood (front row, second from right).

Twenty-six years after Melissa Garwood was born at Sunshine Hospital she has returned to the hospital to start a career as a doctor.​

Melissa is one of 62 doctors starting their medical internships at Western Health in 2017. The group of freshly minted university graduates are an interesting bunch from diverse backgrounds. 

This year’s new interns include doctors who completed their medical degrees in the Australian defence forces, a competitive swimmer, and a folk singer who also produces a medical comedy podcast called Humerus Hacks.

Melissa grew up in St Albans and overcame numerous barriers to become a doctor. As a teenager at Taylors Lakes Secondary College, Melissa shone academically. But her family struggled to afford to pay for her schoolbooks, her uniform and other items.

In Year 8 the school’s student welfare co-ordinator nominated Melissa for a scholarship from Western Chances, a non-profit organisation that helps young people in Melbourne’s west reach their potential. 

She was awarded the scholarship, receiving help to pay for educational expenses throughout school and at the University of Melbourne, where she completed a medical degree.

“I’m really grateful to Western Chances because even though I’ve received other scholarships at various times, Western Chances has been with me all the way through,” said Melissa, who did her clinical post-graduate training at Northern Health. 

“I’m really excited to become a doctor and have the opportunity to work in the west at Western Health. It has an increasingly popular reputation among medical graduates as a great place to work.

“I’ve heard from my University of Melbourne colleagues that Western Health has a welcoming and supportive culture that doesn’t depend on a hierarchy. Junior doctors are invited to feel comfortable to approach senior doctors with questions and problems. 

“I feel excited but terrified at the same time to start my internship, so having reassurance that it’s okay to ask questions and seek help is a huge relief.” 

Western Health’s Chief Executive, A/Prof Alex Cockram, welcomed the 2017 interns at the opening of the group’s orientation week in January. 

She said the interns had arrived during an exciting era of Western Health’s development. The health service had doubled in size over the past eight years, with staff facing the challenges and opportunities of learning how to grow services for patients and improve services at the same time.

A/Prof Cockram said Western Health was a special place to work because of its close-knit sense of community, evident within the organisation and in its relationship with residents of the west. “We have the highest number of staff who live and work in the region,” she said.  “So we are the local hospital for our staff in a way that other health services aren’t.

“And we have a community here in the west of one million people who strongly identify with our region. Identity and community are a big part of who we are.”