From Griffith to indigenous general practice

Dr Samarra Toby

As Griffith reaches a long-awaited health education milestone, one of its early graduateslooks back on the medicine degree that has led to her blossoming career as a doctor.

The new $150m Griffith Health Centre officially opens on July 19 and represents a newera in what the University will offer students, staff and the community regarding facilities,
research and public clinics.

Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery alumnus Samarra Toby couldn’t be prouder ofthe growth of her alma mater.She was amongst the first cohort of medicine students to graduate from Griffith in 2008,after the program’s launch in 2005. Now Samarra, 32 and living on the Sunshine Coast,says she is loving her job as a GP for the Moreton Aboriginal and Torres Strait IslanderCommunity Health Service, a part of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sectorand the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health.

“I’m so happy as I recently passed my exams and received my fellowship with the RoyalAustralian College of General Practitioners so now I am a fully qualified GP! Throughout
my training to become a doctor I always wanted to work in indigenous medicine.“Now I am finally here at a wonderful practice which includes clinics in Deception Bay,Redcliffe, Morayfield, Strathpine and Caboolture, it’s just great to be seeing patients on aregular basis and enjoying that continuity of care with them.”

A mother to four-year-old Arty, Samarra says she is also enjoying the flexibility that acareer in general practice gives her. “The great thing about it is that we have a flexibleroster and I can also choose if I want to do on-call or after-hours work, so there is that element of being able to combine medicine with spending time with my child.”

She says falling pregnant during her intern year straight after Griffith was a big shock. “Itwas very hard continuing to go at full speed with rotations at the Mater Adults and theMater Mothers Hospitals in Brisbane.

“Many people think there is no good time to have kids when you work in medicine, but Ihave a very supportive partner and family and I managed to get through okay. That isprobably why I am so pleased to have the flexibility in my life now!”It was the indigenous health program that helped attract Samarra to studying Medicine atGriffith. “I had already gained a Bachelor of Science straight from school and had thengone down to Canberra to work for the government in indigenous health policy. I wasmixing with a lot of doctors and a couple of people suggested I would be great working inmedicine, so I applied.

A newly-launched program

“I compared Griffith with other Queensland universities but I was really attracted to thefreshness of a newly launched program that started with only 80 students.

“Because the cohort was so small compared to other unis I think we really benefitted fromone-on-one time with our lecturers and they also valued the feedback we gave them as itwas such a new program. I made some fantastic friends at Griffith and I have very fondmemories of my study there.”


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Griffith University is launching a suite of new initiatives under its threeyear ‘New Griffith 2013-2016’ program, signifying an intense period of change and
innovation. For more information: