Dr Laura Johnston graduated as medical practitioner from UWA in December 2019. Now, just months later, she is working on the frontline during a global pandemic.
When she graduated high school, like many young people, Laura wasn’t sure what she wanted to do.
Then, after developing an interest in medicine with part time jobs at a pharmacy and as a secretary to an ENT specialist, Laura decided to take the leap into studying Medicine at UWA.
It sounds cliché, but I’ve always liked helping people. It’s such a privilege to look after patients and their families in some of their most vulnerable moments. Dr Laura Johnston
Laura admits it’s a huge responsibility but takes joy and satisfaction in being able to comfort a patient and explain their situation “properly.”
“It’s a small part of my day, but it’s a huge part of their day – and sometimes a really significant event.”
After graduating from UWA in 2019, Laura started working in the emergency department at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, one of Australia's leading teaching tertiary hospitals. It has more than 600 beds and about 55,00 staff who treat more than 420,000 patients each year.
Laura believes she was made for the job. “It’s exactly what I pictured doing with my time as a doctor. Running around, doing different things all the time – suturing, stapling, taking blood – and having all that patient interaction is exactly what I wanted.”
Then, on 21 February 2020 – not more than one hour after shooting her Wisdom Seekers interview – the first person confirmed to have COVID-19 in Western Australia presented to Sir Charles Gairdner emergency department.
Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital has been at the centre of COVID-19 management in WA as the first to receive a COVID-19 case, and now as a ‘fever clinic’ testing people who have flu-like symptoms, who suspect they may have the virus.
Thanks to the tireless work of doctors like Laura around WA, and the public’s cooperation with social distancing and other quarantine measures, the rate of infection has slowed dramatically.
WA now looks forward to slowly returning to life as normal.