From physiotherapy to medicine, University of Notre Dame student Jeanette Gordon has found a way to combine her great passions.
Originally from South Africa, Jeanette’s family moved to Australia as a child where she grew up in Mount Barker. Developing a love for sports, Jeanette represented WA in both netball and soccer, which led to her deciding to combine her passion for health and sport and pursue a career in physiotherapy.
“I undertook my physiotherapy degree at Curtin University from 2017 to 2020 and played soccer in the Women’s National Premier League (WNPL) while studying,” Jeanette said.
“After graduating I worked as a physiotherapist in the Wheatbelt and Perth.” It was during this year that Jeanette yearned to do more for rural communities, and decided to change career paths.
“I went into medicine as I wanted to be more involved in patient care and develop a wider scope of practice.
“I always knew I’d end up working in the country and I think I can have more impact on someone’s health as a doctor.
“Growing up in such a supportive community made me the person I am today and in return it’s my life mission to serve rural communities.”
Currently in her second year of medicine, Jeanette’s highlights so far include visiting the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) base and the Wheatbelt Medical Student Immersion Program.
“I’ve been granted these amazing opportunities through the medicine program at Notre Dame.
“Soon I will head to Broome for the Broome Learning on Country (BLOC) and later in the year we have the Kimberley Immersion Program.
“I loved visiting RFDS; I have a passion for planes and flying. You can see it’s a challenging job, but also incredibly rewarding.”
Jeanette aspires to become a rural generalist serving the Wheatbelt community, much like her mentor Dr Olga Ward.
“Olga really inspired me to support rural communities. You can help more people and you are truly appreciated and that’s what has stuck with me.”
“That and the fact she has her own plane and goes to these different towns and looks after the community – that is my dream.”
In the meantime, Jeanette will juggle her time between her medical studies, spending time with her family in the Great Southern and her farmer partner Tim in Wongan Hills, look after some of her physiotherapy patients, holding the odd Pilates class, playing sport and mentoring high school students.
“I enjoy community involvement, not just as a health professional, but participating in sport and through volunteer work, such as student rural health club SPINRPHEX and Wheatbelt Beyond Youth Mentoring.”
“Currently I am playing netball in the Wheatbelt and I’m a sports trainer/physiotherapist for Wongan Ballidu Football Club.
“Although my life is a constant chaotic race against time and involves many hours of driving between Mt Barker, Perth and Wongan Hills, I have a very supportive family and partner. I wouldn’t have it any other way. “I believe if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you will always be able to make time for it.”