Two fathers and their children are studying medicine together at UWA this year.
And all of them were admitted to the medical school through the rural program: a tribute to the work of Sue Pougnault, student support co-ordinator with the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences.
"Sue is brilliant," said first year student Ethan Fitzclarence. His father Graeme, in the final year of his graduate degree said.
Mrs Pougnault was responsible for at least half of the incentive for prospective rural students to study medicine. But Ethan disagrees "Much more than half!" he said.
Ethan's mother and Graeme's wife, Cherelle Fitzclarence, is a doctor in Broome where Graeme worked as a registered nurse and both parents homeschooled Ethan and his two siblings.
"I did rather badly in high school because Dad was away a lot, working as an industrial medic on mine sites, and then he came down to Perth to study medicine," Ethan said. "So I went to Broome Senior High School and I was
determined to do well. Mum knows Sue, and I'd been allowed to go to her information sessions every year since I was 12. Talking to Mum and learning from and being inspired by Sue, I knew I wanted to study medicine."
Graeme said he worked as a panel beater and spray painter to support his wife while she was studying medicine.
"Now it's her turn to support me," he said. Unlike many of the graduate students, Graeme has not had to work during medical school, other than to manage the family's real estate and property investments.
"Ethan used to say he was sure he'd get into medicine because they let anybody in (meaning me) these days. Now I say to him, yes they do!"
Graeme said he wanted to take the next step up from nursing, so applied for a rural bonded place and started his studies in 2005.
Geoff Hillwood, the other father sharing his studies with his offspring, has a similar reason for moving into medicine.
Geoff was a paramedic for nine years. "I got a bit sick of ambo work. I guess I just wanted to finish it up," he said.
His daughter Jessica is in second year. Although the family now lives in Perth, they both qualified for entry under the rural program because of their many years in Geraldton.
Geoff has been in the army reserves for 11 years and is a qualified army medic.
His studies are sponsored by a Royal Australian Air Force bursary. He did his first year of medicine in 2004, then took a few years off to finish his science degree.
"I had wanted to study medicine since I was in year 10," Jessica said. "But I didn't tell anybody, in case they told me I wouldn't be good enough.
"When I applied I didn't know that Dad was going back to finish his medical degree. So I didn't really follow him; we just ended up here at the same time!"
Sue Pougnault's job is to spread the word among rural communities about studying medicine and dentistry at UWA, to encourage prospective students and their parents, to help them with the application process, to advise and counsel, to help them settle in if they are accepted, then to ensure they are coping with life in the city and to help them to apply for scholarships.
She travels thousands of kilometres each year, conducting workshops and information sessions across the state.
Ms Pougnault insists she is just one of a team at the Faculty but she is the face of the program and admits to becoming closely involved with prospective students and sharing their delight when they are successful.
"This is the first time we've had two families of students from rural areas," she said. "I'm as thrilled as they are."