Ms Olivia Ratcliffe will always be grateful for having a father to grow up with, thanks to the double lung transplant he received when she was a child.
Olivia recently graduated with a Bachelor of Medical Radiation Science (Medical Imaging) from the Charles Sturt University School of Dentistry and Medical Sciences and is committed to bringing those skills to rural communities to bridge the healthcare gap between city and country people.
Olivia was born in Sydney, in the outer city suburb of Hornsby, completing her secondary education at Loreto Normanhurst.
She moved to the country in 2018 to pursue her degree at Charles Sturt in Wagga Wagga and has loved living there ever since.
“I prefer the lifestyle that a regional town affords, and I feel it’s important for me to share the education and training I have received with regional communities,” Olivia said.
It was Olivia’s father’s illness that sparked her interest in pursuing a career in the medical industry.
“Growing up, my dad suffered from a chronic lung condition called Bronchiectasis, which was not well researched at the time. This culminated in a double lung transplant at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney,” she said.
“It was this experience which reinforced my passion for helping others and the impact I could have on their lives and the lives of their families.
Olivia was drawn to medical imaging due to its importance in diagnosis within the chain of treatment and the integral role medical imaging plays in identifying pathology.
“It was my passion for rural and First Nations health that drew me towards a university education at Charles Sturt in Wagga Wagga,” Olivia said.
“This stemmed from my interest in First Nations Studies in Years 11 and 12 in high school, which focussed on the health disparities between First Nations and non-First Nations peoples and the importance of having access to culturally safe healthcare.
“Another driving factor of undertaking university in Wagga Wagga was the reality that access to health care for people in rural and regional settings can be an issue and patients suffering from chronic conditions may go undetected and untreated and this could mean a much worse prognosis.”
Like many students in 2021, Olivia was determined to get her degree, despite the obstacles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Due to my dad’s lowered immune system, I was unable to return home in 2020. This meant I had to find accommodation at short notice and was separated from my family for many months,” she said.
“Fortunately, my part-time job at Coles kept me afloat financially and the support from the University with the transition to online learning was excellent.”
Olivia offered the following advice to other prospective students considering a university education:
“Don’t not pursue your preferred career path if you didn’t get great marks in that area in school. I struggled with maths in school but with great support from Charles Sturt staff and friends this was no issue,” she said.
Olivia is looking forward to her official graduation ceremony, which is being rescheduled to 2022 after being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.
She is currently working as a casual radiographer in Wagga Wagga and hopes to provide holistic and culturally safe healthcare to rural communities.