Dentistry student Claire Hammond flying high after winning health scholarship

Clair Hammond is also a passionate horse rider
Clair Hammond is also a passionate horse rider

Meet Claire Hammond, a first-year dentistry student at La Trobe University, Bendigo, and one of four winners of this year’s Give Them Wings scholarships.

Worth $2,500 each and awarded by the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Victoria in partnership with Rural Health Workforce Australia, the scholarships—which includes a RFDS experience—are designed to encourage the next generation of nursing and allied health professionals from rural communities in Victoria.

Hammond, who grew up in the Lindenow Valley near Bairnsdale, said she first became interested in the dentistry profession during routine check-ups as well as trips to the orthodontist when she had braces.

Her interest continued to grow and was sustained by the idea of  “the joy of changing a person’s life by creating a beautiful, healthy smile that brightens up the whole room [which] is unquestionably the biggest reward of a dentist”.

Hammond hopes that by becoming a dentist, she can help make dentistry more accessible and affordable for rural communities. “The thought of being able to help those in need with choice of health professional often crosses my mind,” she said.

RFDS Victoria CEO, Scott Chapman, congratulated Claire and the other Give Them Wings winners, describing them as role models for other country students keen to pursue health careers.

“We’re delighted to give these students a flying start at university in that crucial first year of study,” he said. “They represent the future of rural health.”

Rural Health Workforce Australia CEO, Greg Mundy, said the scholarships recognised the importance of country students in helping to reduce Australia’s rural health workforce shortages.

“We need more nurses and allied health professionals in the bush,” he said. “They have a critical role to play in caring for country people.”

The Give Them Wings scholarship program is generously supported by the volunteer fundraising activities of the Bayside Auxiliary of the RFDS Victoria. The auxiliary has raised more than $250,000 for the RFDS.

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