Living next door to her family doctor in Bowen, North Queensland, did more than just keep Naomi Anning in good health - it influenced her choice of career.
The former University of Wollongong student was one of 56 medical graduates from across the state to begin a two-year internship yesterday at public hospitals and medical centres in the Illawarra.
The group is part of a record 925 new interns across the state's hospital network.
Dr Anning said that while growing up she was inspired by the varied skill set shown by the town's GPs and the important role they played in the community.
She pursued a career in radiology, studying in Brisbane before working in a variety of Queensland hospitals until her mid-20s, but decided four years ago to return to university to study medicine.
Dr Anning chose the University of Wollongong for its smaller class sizes and regional setting, quickly growing to love the city and its coastal lifestyle.
She secured an internship with Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health after graduating last year.
Speaking to the Mercury during yesterday's orientation, Dr Anning said she was looking forward to getting into the hospital wards and putting her skills into practice.
"I'm excited about starting," she said.
"It's taken me 10 years to progress to this point, so I'm really keen to get in there [the wards]."
Dr Anning will join 44 other interns at Wollongong Hospital, while the remaining 11 will be split up between hospitals or medical centres at Bulli, Port Kembla, Shellharbour and the Shoalhaven.
The graduates, classified as "junior" doctors, will receive on-the-job training and close supervision from senior staff throughout their two-year internship.
Once they have completed their training, doctors can become GPs or move into specialist areas.