4 October 2023

Former dux back in Weipa to complete medical degree

| Matt Nicholls
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Katelyn McCahon has loved her work placement at Weipa Hospital.

FORMER Western Cape College captain Katelyn McCahon says a remote upbringing should not be a barrier for Cape kids to follow their dreams as she pursues her goal to work for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Just weeks away from graduating with her medical degree from James Cook University, Katelyn has returned to Weipa to complete a rural placement.

“I put Weipa as my top preference from a list of five places,” she said.

“It’s been one of the best rural placements I’ve had and there’s a really good group of students up here.

“It’s a nice, busy hospital so we’re constantly doing skills and learning new things.”

Katelyn said she wasn’t sure what career she wanted in her early high school years, but leant towards medicine in Grade 11.

In 2017, she graduated as the college’s dux, sharing the honour with Liam Parr, her fellow school captain.

Since then, it’s been a slog.

The 23-year-old has spent the last six years at JCU and is now pushing to become a rural generalist, having secured a position at Cairns Hospital for next year.

“I’ve applied for what they call the Queensland Rural Generalist Pathway, which allows you to get extra mentoring and support,” Katelyn said.

I can apply for that college from mid next year and then that’s another five or six years of training to become a senior generalist after that.”

Former Western Cape College principal Noel Rawlins and now-current principal Dan Tonon with 2017 dux recipients Katelyn McCahon and Liam Parr.

Asked what she’d like to be doing in a decade from now, Katelyn had no hesitation.

“RFDS. Being a doctor at the Royal Flying Doctor Service is definitely my dream job,” she said.

The decision was no doubt influenced by her upbringing in Cape York, with the RFDS providing a lifeline to remote communities.

Her parents, Linda and Scott, also encouraged her down the health pathway.

Scott was the former pharmacy owner before selling up and moving to a farm on the Atherton Tablelands.

“Mum and dad definitely told me plenty of stories about healthcare and how rewarding it can be,” Katelyn said.

And while it’s been mostly work in Weipa, that hasn’t stopped her from enjoying herself while back in her old stomping ground.

On the weekend, Katelyn took part in the Conquer the Corrugations walk, while last month she went out on the water with Jim Borthwick and caught two massive barramundi.

“Dad and (brother) Tom were definitely jealous,” she said with a laugh.

“It’s been great to be back in Weipa and I can’t thank the hospital staff enough.”

Katelyn McCahon with two barras caught near Weipa.

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