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Kicking goals is the doctors order

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Kicking goals is the doctors order

As a doctor in training, Lulu Pullar is finding her feet in the fast-paced Sunshine Hospital Emergency Department (ED).

When she's not practicing medicine, you’ll find the Australian Rules Football Women’s (AFLW) player on the footy field kicking goals.    

“I often get asked how I balance my medical and sporting careers,” the Western Health medical intern says.    

“I am not a superhuman, it’s only possible to do it with people who support you and I am extremely lucky to have two flexible workplaces: Western Health and the North Melbourne Football Club.   

“Western Health has been instrumental in enabling me to combine football and medicine and I’m incredibly grateful for their support.”    

Lulu is a naturally gifted athlete who began her professional sporting career playing soccer. Her talents saw her gain a scholarship with the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.   

It was during this stint overseas she discovered a love of science.   

“I really enjoyed science and the fact that you just have this endless pursuit of knowledge, and you can fulfil your curiosities and constantly learn.    

“This led me to medicine, it’s the perfect career as it allows me to be curious, problem solve, and work with people and it’s quite an active and challenging job. I love it!    

Back in Australia she studied Medicine at Bond University and gave up professional soccer to concentrate on her education.   

“While I was at uni, a friend suggested I come along to kick the footy at Bond Football Club.”   

It turns out her talents could transcend professional sporting codes. She was soon drafted to the Brisbane Lions where she was awarded the club’s Best First Year Player in 2022.     

North Melbourne leapt at the opportunity to recruit the agile and athletic defender.    

Lulu recalls being delighted at the prospect of moving to Melbourne, but also daunted at the prospect of finding a Medical Intern position (the first year of on-the-job training after completing your medical degree).   

“I thought I'd just graduated from university; I can’t go without a job in medicine!”    

“Your intern year is usually quite regimented about where and what you do, so it can be tricky to move interstate, so I was incredibly grateful when I received a call from Western Health.”    

Lulu said her football training schedule and travel requirements varied throughout the year, but she had been fortunate to have a supportive workplace.    

“It’s a large 24/7 health service and the Director Medical Workforce at Western Health Hien Nguyen and Supervisor of Intern Training Dr Sean Fabri have shown a huge amount of flexibility in my rostering.”    

“Sometimes we train 3-4 times a week and play on the weekend, but we are also required to travel interstate for games, which is probably the hardest part of balancing the two careers because when you get back from a match, you have to get stuck straight into work and training.”    

Dr Fabri said Lulu showed the same grit and determination in her role as an intern, as she does on the football field.  

Lulu grew up in Queensland with her parents who encouraged her to do her best in her academic and sporting pursuits.  She said she was the first doctor in her family.    

“It means I end up fielding a lot of medical questions,” she laughs.    

For Lulu the introduction and transition from a professional soccer player to AFLW was seamless.    

“I’ve spent most of my life kicking a ball, even though it was a different shape, and I also spent a lot of time watching my brothers play AFL when I was young so I knew the rules.    

“I think that the biggest skill that I have from soccer that translates to AFL is spatial awareness in a game.    

“Being an endurance runner is also one of my strong suits and that comes from playing soccer for the past 12 years or so.”    

“I think it also helped that I was a professional athlete before I started playing AFL, so I knew what it was like to train and play at that level.”    

The young defender said she had settled into life in Victoria and was enjoying the enthusiasm Melburnians had for footy.    

Lulu doesn’t disclose her sporting prowess to patients, but occasionally it does come up in conversation.   

“I don’t go around talking about it and if I do tell someone, it’s because I need to explain that I’m leaving to catch a flight to play a match or something like that. Some people are quite interested and others, not so much!”   


Photo credit & article below: Herald Sun