From nurse to cardiologist – Dr Michele McGrady’s inspirational story

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It wasn’t until the age of 27 when Michele McGrady decided she wanted to become a cardiologist.

She was working as a nurse at the time, and attended night school to acquire the necessary qualifications to gain entry to university.

Here, the Strathfield Private Hospital cardiologist discusses her inspirational transition from nursing to cardiology.

Why/how did you transition from nursing to medicine?

I come from a family of nurses and started nurse training after school. I loved working with patients and families and wanted a challenge that would allow me to continue to do this – medicine. My nurse training was in the ’80s when it was hospital not degree based. I knew I had to go to university and start a Bachelor of Science doing biology, chemistry, maths and physics to transfer to a medical degree.

How did it feel to be doing your HSC at 27?

I had missed the university cut-off dates, it had been a long time since school and having never owned a calculator, I decided it was best to go to night school.  Enrolling at TAFE, near Central Station, I studied HSC biology, maths and chemistry at night school while continuing to work full-time. My colleagues in cardiology at Royal Prince Alfred were very supportive with shifts so I could go to night school. I started a Bachelor of Science the following year at the University of Sydney and began my medical degree a year later.

Areas of special interest and why?

My special interests include heart failure, Indigenous health, chronic disease and echocardiography. As a medical registrar at RPAH, I was seconded to Alice Springs Hospital for three months. I got to visit remote communities and loved every minute of it. I have continued to visit communities in central Australia since 2008 to do cardiology and chronic disease clinics.

What were/are the biggest challenges you faced/face as a woman in medicine?

I cannot remember worrying about being a woman in medicine. If you told me I couldn’t do something because of my gender, I would have asked why not? Being a mature aged student was the biggest challenge and not having that abundant confidence of youth. Being 5’2’’ was a challenge in my surgical jobs. I spent years standing on a box assisting at operations.

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