Alumni Spotlight: A journey from student to doctor

Frances Smith (2009)

After graduating from Grammar in 2009, Frances Smith moved to Dunedin, New Zealand to start University at the University of Otago.

Frances started in Health Science in her first year which was a compulsory Medical School pre-requisite in New Zealand. This pre-requisite counted towards her first year of medical school. Frances was successful is completing her first year with a GPA of 90%, and obtained medical school entry.

She went on to completed her first few years of medical school in Dunedin, before moving to Wellington to finish her last three years. During her University breaks she was able to travel to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as come back to do some work in Noosa and Fremantle, Perth.

Frances was fortunate that during her last year of study, she was able to complete an overseas elective in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Kingston, Jamaica and Edinburgh, Scotland. As a result, she was also able to tack on some travel to France and Spain. Of all the places Frances has travelled she would highly recommend Patagonia as a beautiful place to explore.

After completing her studies and graduating in 2015, Frances worked as a junior doctor in Rotorua New Zealand. She was able to take some time off in 2019 and spent five months backpacking through South America (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru). Frances came back to start work back in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand before starting her specialty training in Christchurch, New Zealand in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

“As part of my training I’ve had to move around a lot in the past 24 months  –  spending six months each in Taranaki, New Zealand and Dunedin, New Zealand. “

Frances is now currently working as a Senior Registrar in her fourth year of specialty training in Christchurch Women’s Hospital, New Zealand.

“I’m excited to be looking at moving back to Australia for my final years of specialising in 2024 and I’m keen to work rurally as a specialist and help women from all walks of life.”

Frances is most proud of the time she has invested in her training. She says it hasn’t been always easy, and it’s been busy and feels great pride when she has a patient that is happy and thankful for the care that she has been able to provide.

“When I was in school, I had an inspiration board next to my desk. There were two people on that

board, and it’s ironic how relevant one of them is to the field that I eventually ended up in! One of them was Dr Fred Hollows, an ophthalmologist who founded a very famous charity for surgery and treatment in the third world, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. The second was Dr Catherine Hamlin, who founded a fistula clinic in Ethiopia for women suffering from severe birth injuries.” 

“The support given to me by my teachers at Grammar was second to none. I remember Mr Burnett and Mr Buttenshaw being tremendously supportive and amazing teachers during my time there.”