The Rhode to Scholarship honour

The Rhode to Scholarship honour

In September 2022 one of The Alfred’s very own, Basic Physician Trainee, Laura McArthur will leave our shores to take up residence marching the hallowed halls of arguably the most prestigious University in the world, Oxford University in England.  Laura has been awarded a Rhodes scholarship and will be leaving us next year to take up this life changing opportunity. Our hopes are that she returns to BPT training with tales of snowy winters, brilliant minds and international inspiration.

We had a chat with Laura and asked her about what this opportunity may bring.

Q:  What exactly is a Rhodes scholarship?

“The Rhodes Scholarship is a postgraduate scholarship offered to students around the world, to enable study at Oxford University, England. Scholars can study in any discipline and it is a chance to not only study in your selected field, but to meet people and engage with ideas from around the world. 102 young people are selected from around the world annually.”

Q:  What inspired you to apply?

We know that medicine isn’t by any means an isolated field. Healthcare is affected by everything from economics to politics, climate to social change; I want to understand more of that context of medicine to better enable me to work within it.”

Q:  Was there anything unexpected in the application process?

“The biggest surprise was how much I enjoyed the whole process! It challenged me to think about my journey, my goals how I would like to make the world a better place if I can; and through the extensive interview process I had the opportunity to talk to some incredible people and think about a range of global issues in different ways.

Q: What is the time line from application to finding out you were successful and how did you find out?

“First, there is a written application, due at the start of September, then a first round of interviews. Following this, four candidates proceed to a social engagement (held virtually this year) which is with the interview panellists in a less formal setting. This is then followed by a formal interview, held in late October. After the completion of the final interview, the panellists have time to deliberate, and then you re-enter the virtual interview room later that same day – this is when I found out I had been successful. It was an incredibly exciting moment.”

Q: What will you be studying?

“I’m in the process of applying for courses at the moment! I’m interested in public health and the bridges between research, policy and clinical medicine, so I’m hoping to study a course that will give me skills to work in this space.”

Q:  Who are your heroes or inspirations in this field?

“There are just so many. There are those like Fred Hollows who did such incredible work and whose legacies live on to this day.  However, equally as inspiring are the clinicians and researchers that I have been fortunate enough to meet and their talent, dedication and way of engaging with what matters to their patients. Then there are leaders in other fields, whose styles, dedication and approach to challenges serve as an inspiration. It has been patients, too, with the stories they share, who inspire me every day.”

Q:  What are you most looking forward about living in Oxford?

Everything – it hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I think if I had to pick one thing, it would be getting to meet people from around the world, to hear about their stories and their ideas for the future.”

Q:  What are three things you hope to walk away with after your time at Oxford?

“Firstly, knowledge – I’m hoping to gain learning and skills. Secondly, I hope to meet different people from different backgrounds and parts of the world. Lastly I hope to hear different ideas, perspectives and ways of thinking which I can then carry with me and which will help me approach challenges in the future”.

Q: How do you think this scholarship will change you future?

“I hope that it will broaden my knowledge and skill set.  I know I want to continue clinical work and research but I hope the Scholarship and my time at Oxford will give me the skills to think about challenges in medicine in different ways or through different lenses”.

Q:  How long are you away for and what do you hope to do after you have finished?

“The scholarship, for me, will be for two years of study. I am planning to come back to complete my BTP training at The Alfred, so that will be priority number one! Beyond that, I would love to do both clinical and research work.  Ultimately, though there are so many health inequities out there that I would really like to end up doing some work that addresses those”.

Q: What advice would you give someone who is considering applying?

“Absolutely go for it.  It is a fabulous, fabulous opportunity.  Even just going through the process of applying is really valuable because it helps you clarify in your own mind what is important to you, what you stand for and what your goals are, as well as how you can go about achieving those. Then, the opportunity the Scholarship itself represents is incredible.”

Q: In the future, when you are at the end of your career journey, what do you hope your greatest achievement to have been?

“There is a quote that has always really resonated with me which is “if one life breathes easier because you have lived, that is to have succeeded” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.  It is something we come across in healthcare every single day and not only in what we do for our jobs but also how we go about doing it because it can make such a big difference to people’s lives.  I would also love to contribute to helping bridge some of the health inequities that exist both internationally and within Australia.