Hannah Hawker and family.

Career change to medicine: making the move from teaching

Hannah Hawker is a woman with a clear vision to improve rural and regional communities. And that vision has set her on a new path to bring back vital health services to regional areas. The dedicated mother-of-two and teacher of more than a decade is preparing for a major career change – from teaching to medicine.

Making the change from teaching to medicine

Born and raised in rural New South Wales, it was a no-brainer for Hannah to have a change of scenery from Parkes to Orange to pursue a career in medicine that will help her address the doctor shortage in rural Australia. She made the move to attend university with the support of her partner, Todd. Plus their two children, Alfie and Joseph.

The first-year Charles Sturt University Doctor of Medicine student’s dramatic career change saw her move from filling one gap in the education system to working towards filling in-demand doctor roles in rural and regional communities.

“When I found out this program was in the works, I decided I’d just have a go at getting in. At least I could say I tried … and here we are.”

Taking her career in a new direction

In her previous career, Hannah was an English and business studies teacher at Parkes High School for a decade. As much as she relished being able to contribute to the education industry, she wasn’t convinced teaching would be her ‘forever job’.

Her upbringing in Parkes exposed her to the joys of horse riding and farming. But it also stressed the need for proper access to education and healthcare.

And the experiences within Charles Sturt’s practical medicine degree are setting Hannah up with the clinical skills, problem-based learning and patient care expertise needed to hit the ground running in her medicine career.

“Charles Sturt really walks the walk at training rural clinicians. Placements are all in rural areas and designed to give you time to settle in and make connections.”

hannah in class

How a scholarship has given Hannah a helping hand in her career change to medicine

Charles Sturt’s medicine program allows Hannah to study her chosen field close to home, an accomplishment that was not possible only a few years ago.

But the move from Parkes to Orange created a small dilemma with childcare as she started dedicating more hours to study while further from home.

Hannah then received the Central West Medical Association Medical Student Scholarship. It has allowed her to hire a nanny to help with the children after the relocation left them without childcare for her boys.

“Orange had a huge population boom, which translated into not enough childcare. Our mums and auntie have been helping us. However, this scholarship will allow me to pay a nanny’s wage for a few months. That has been the difference between whether I am able to attend class or not.”

Discovering a career change to medicine is within reach

Coming from a rural town, Hannah knew the importance of access to healthcare and services. But since she did not see anyone around her pursuing a career in medicine, she assumed it was out of reach.

A new hospital was built in Parkes but the lack of personnel to staff it to capacity was part of what prompted Hannah to pursue her dream.

“The health service tried to get a new obstetrician to town but ultimately the maternity unit was closed, and our communities deserve the same quality healthcare as people in the city.
I truly believe the best way to retain clinicians in rural areas is to train the people who already know and love it there.”

Balancing study and family

Hannah’s children motivate her to maintain a balance between study and family.

“Being a mum really gives me a great head start on issues pertaining to mothers and young children. We all experience and learn so much when we first have babies. It’s fantastic to be able to bring that into the course. And to take away a physiological understanding of what is happening with the boys.”

For Hannah, organisation and prioritisation are key when studying.

“I pack as much as I can in during the day. And have some late nights! But the boys are the best study break and I’m really grateful for the balance they bring to the intensity of medicine.”

Hannah’s bright future in medicine awaits

Hannah faces promising career prospects at the end of her five-year medicine degree. The Doctor of Medicine is the first step in training for a career in medicine. It will qualify her to be a medical intern in Australia and New Zealand.

When she completes her degree, Hannah hopes to work as a general practitioner in the rural area where her partner is from, near Tullamore. Her long-term goal is to help others to start a family as a Rural Generalist with Obstetrics / Emergency Department.

Want to bridge the rural healthcare gap?

Then Charles Sturt’s Doctor of Medicine is for you.