ANU Medical School’s first Indigenous graduate

18 December 2014

Jessica King always dreamed of becoming a doctor and didn’t let anything get in her way.

Growing up in Darwin, Dr King spent every weekend and school holidays in remote Indigenous communities with her extended family in the Larrakia and Warumungu tribes.

“It was a marvellous way to grow up and a different way to see the world. I’m a bush kid, that’s where my heart is,” she said.

Dr King has now achieved her dream and graduated as a doctor.

“It’s great to be the first Aboriginal graduate from the ANU Medical School,” Dr King said.

“There are seven others behind me in the school who will make wonderful doctors when they get to this point and I will continue to support them through medical school.”

Dr King completed her a Bachelor of Science at ANU in 2005. She went on to work in the public service. When the opportunity came to go back and study medicine, she grabbed it with both hands.

She was the first recipient of the ANU National Indigenous Medicine Scholarship.

“A Doctor of Medicine and Surgery is a four year post graduate degree and a lot of hard work but worth every moment,” she said.

“I’ve had so much support from staff, the other students and alumni. I’ve always had someone willing to teach me and I’ve always been willing to learn.”

Dr King’s grandfather was a big influence in her decision to become a doctor.

He was a bushman and only went to grade four in school. But that didn’t stop him from teaching her to read and sharing his wisdom, urging her to do something with her life to benefit the community.

At school in Darwin, Dr King didn’t let her first career counsellor’s words of advice to become a cleaner crush her dream. She changed school and another career counsellor suggested medicine.

Dr King said she was grateful for the support of her parents and the doctors in her life, including her GP aunt and her own GP Dr Pete Sharp at the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service in Canberra.

“If you want to be a doctor, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. You go and do it,” she said.

Dr King graduated with a Doctor of Medicine and Surgery. She will start her Intern year at The Canberra Hospital in January and will work in Bega later in 2015.

“As a kid, I spent a lot of time in the communities that didn’t have a doctor and I always wondered why,” Dr King said.

“My goal is to be a bush doctor and ACT Health is helping me to do that by allowing me to go as rural as I can as a new Intern. From there I’ll go wherever the opportunities take me.” 

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