Victoria Astill-Torchia’s love of science led her to the Bachelor of Biomedical Science, but it was a desire to help people at their most vulnerable that drove her to Medical School.
Growing up in Tintenbar, a small town near Ballina on the New South Wales northern coast, Victoria watched her older siblings leave home for university and knew the same future was on the card for her.
After attending a Griffith University Open Day, her love of science helped her settle on the Bachelor of Biomedical Science.
“It was through my degree I realised how fascinating the human body is, how it works and what happens when things go wrong”, she says.
“But I am also really drawn to the patient experience in medicine, building relationships and being able to help people at a time when they are vulnerable. I had completed by undergraduate studies at Griffith and after that experience wanted to study Medicine at Griffith as well.”
Victoria understands that her pathway to medicine, like all students, will be a long one, and has several pieces of advice for students who struggle to stay motivated.
“This is my fifth year of study and I have a few more to go before I will graduate so keeping perspective about why I am studying and staying motivated can be a challenge sometimes,” she says.
“I’ve been lucky enough to build a support system at Griffith that helps me stay connected to my studies. I’m part of Griffith Mates, I’m a mentor for the School of Medical Science, a PASS leader and I participate in different clubs on campus.
“There is so much support available, events to participate in and amazing opportunities.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of Victoria’s classes have been moved online. She now studies from home, which she says takes a different kind of discipline and motivation. Her advice for studying from home: buy headphones.
“I live with my family and with everyone home it can get very noisy!” she laughs.
“To keep myself focused amongst the noise, I have set a realistic study schedule to stick to with lots of breaks throughout the day. I use those breaks to do something that makes me feel good – currently I’m reading a lot of books, playing the piano and exercising.”
Although she’s adapting to learning from home – her tutorials have moved from a lab to an online classroom where she says he teachers have been “incredibly helpful” – she didn’t realise how hard it would be to lose the social aspect of study. Thankfully, more online tools have come to her rescue.
“I didn’t fully appreciate how much of my week I got to spend with friends at university without having to plan it and adjusting to that was hard at first.
“Thankfully keeping in touch with friends has been easy, I probably have had more video calls in the last few weeks than the rest of my life combined!”
Victoria is looking forward to getting back on campus when the time comes and resuming her study, much of which will be made up of clinical placements as she enters her third and fourth year.
“I think it’s amazing that as students we get to spend time learning in the hospital and I am very excited for the experience” she says.
“So far, I have visited community health services and developed my understanding of the role they play in healthcare. I also had the opportunity to complete an optional summer observership program in a rural GP practice in Toowoomba, where I spent 4 weeks shadowing different GPs.
“It was an amazing learning experience, and I was given lots of opportunity to practice and improve my clinical skills.
“I have also completed an exchange program to Mexico to study public health where I visited different health services and hospitals, and we were even allowed to stand in on some surgeries which was fascinating!
“Studying Medicine takes a lot of effort and work, but I would say to anyone considering a Doctor of Medicine, it is worth it!”
If like Victoria you have a passion for medical science, find out more about our Doctor of Medicine as one of the pathways to your medical career.