Mater medical intern Dr Helena Franco has been awarded this year’s Young Alumni Award by Bond University for her outstanding community engagement, excellence in academic and professional pursuits and commitment to—and research in—medicine.
Dr Franco is the first Health, Sciences and Medicine Faculty member to ever receive the prestigious award, which was presented to her at a gala dinner in May.
While studying a Bachelor of Medical Studies/Doctor of Medicine at Bond University, Dr Franco held numerous leadership and community service positions, which included being the first female president of the Bond University Surgical Society. She secured clinical placements overseas at Cambridge and Yale institutions and has attended over 20 medical workshops and conferences around the world.
Dr Franco selected Mater as her first preference to undertake her internship year, following a long-standing connection with Mater.
“I completed a Mater Research project during my senior high school year, which inspired me to study medicine instead of law,” Dr Franco said.
“Not only that—I was born at Mater. Now, I’ve come full circle, returning to Mater as an intern doctor. Mater was my first preference for an internship and I was lucky to get it,’ she said.
As one of 16 medical interns at Mater, Dr Franco has enjoyed the support, friendly culture and learning opportunities provided by the program.
“My experience at Mater has been so good. I’ve really enjoyed it. We’ve got a really nice group of interns, the environment is so supportive, and the teaching is excellent,” she said.
“We receive protected teaching three times a week, where they take away our phones and pagers and we sit in a room having a lecture just like in medical school. The educational component is so helpful.
“As an intern here, it’s very hands on. It’s a steep learning curve but we are encouraged to get in and work hard and there is constant support. There has never been a time I’ve been left somewhere that I didn’t feel confident or safe.”
Director of Clinical Training Dr Ryan Frazer, who oversees the medical interns, said the program is well rounded and offers a great variety of rotations, which is a major drawcard for applicants.
“The variety of rotations we can offer here at Mater is quite broad—specifically rotations of obstetrics, neonates and paediatrics, which are hard to get in other hospitals,” Dr Frazer said.
“Even though Mater is able to offer a broad range of tertiary-level specialties, we’re still able to maintain our small hospital feel. Interns don’t feel like they just make up numbers—we know them by name.
“Mater is going through a new stage of growth at the moment, attracting several new consultants who bring with them a fantastic range of skills. Our interns are getting exposure to that, which is great.”
Dr Frazer said the feedback the program receives is extremely positive and the retention rate for current interns is very high. He attributes the fantastic opportunities the program offers to the reason why candidates of Helena’s calibre select Mater for their internship.
“Helena picked Mater as her first preference specifically because of what we could offer,” he said.
“If we didn’t have the opportunities we do, we would miss out on fantastic candidates like her. Word of mouth and positive feedback from previous interns who’ve worked here means top candidates are choosing Mater.
“Helena is a worthy recipient of the Bond University Young Alumni Award and a valuable addition to Mater. We’re proud to support Helena in her career through our fantastic internship program.”