After 32 years of medical study, 51 year old Coast resident Jeannine Paterson has secured an intern role with Sunshine Coast University Hospital.
After 32 years of medical study, 51 year old Coast resident Jeannine Paterson has secured an intern role with Sunshine Coast University Hospital. Patrick Woods

My career started at 51: Mum's 32-year journey to medicine

SIX universities, four different career paths and three children but 32 years after her studies began, Buderim's Jeannine Paterson is a fully-qualified doctor.

For the past three years, Mrs Paterson has been completing her post-graduate degree at Griffith University, living on the Gold Coast Monday to Friday, away from her family.

In January, she begins her internship with Sunshine Coast University Hospital as a fully-qualified doctor.

The now 51-year-old began study at 18, half a world away at the University of Vienna in Austria.

When she met her husband Scott and moved down under, she thought her medical dreams were dashed.

"Completing my degree is so surreal, I didn't think I'd ever finish it," Mrs Paterson said.

"When I moved here I assumed I was sacrificing the career I'd dreamt of.

"I didn't want to miss out on my children growing up, that's what stopped me at the start.

"I never thought I'd be able to get back into medicine."

After 32 years of medical study, 51 year old Coast resident Jeannine Paterson has secured an intern role with Sunshine Coast University Hospital.
After 32 years of medical study, 51 year old Coast resident Jeannine Paterson has secured an intern role with Sunshine Coast University Hospital. Patrick Woods

Would you start a new career later in life?

This poll ended on 19 December 2018.

Current Results

Absolutely, it's never too late.

62%

Not everyone can afford to start studying again.

12%

Maybe, if I was passionate enough.

25%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Her tertiary path has seen her study in Austria, New York, Melbourne, the Coast and the Griffith.

Over the years she gained qualifications in naturopathy, nursing and midwifery.

She said she hoped her story would encourage women in their 40s to not think it's too late.

"It is never too late. You have to at least give it a go," she said.

"I thought I was too old, thought why would they take someone my age.

"Sometimes you underestimate yourself. Women my age think career life is over at 40.

"I didn't want to regret something, and low and behold I got in."

But her dreams are not done there, eventually she aims to open her own general practice.

And with her mindset, she's odds on to achieve it.


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