Inspired by the medical research and complex surgery that saved her father's life, Olivia Ratcliffe is dedicating her career to ensuring regional areas have access to the exact same level of care.
When Ms Ratcliffe moved from Sydney to Wagga in 2018, she was shocked at the huge disparity between the healthcare services across the two cities.
"I had never really thought about it but when I got here I suddenly realised things were quite different," she said.
"It's so much harder to access really good healthcare and diagnosis is often difficult because people aren't able to regularly access the right doctors or specialists."
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Growing up, Ms Ratcliffe's father suffered from bronchiectasis, a chronic lung condition which made breathing a near-impossible task.
The condition was not well-researched at the time and ultimately culminated in a double lung transplant at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney.
The surgery was a success and changed the lives of the entire family, but since moving to regional NSW, Ms Ratcliffe has realised things could have easily been very different.
"The transplant meant he didn't have to be on oxygen anymore and it basically changed all of our lives for the better ... but if he had lived in a rural or regional town he probably wouldn't be alive," she said.
Ms Ratcliffe has just graduated with a Bachelor of Medical Radiation Science, specialising in medical imaging, from Charles Sturt University and is currently working as a radiographer with the I-MED Radiology Network.
Despite being from Sydney, she plans to continue working in regional areas as long as possible and help bridge the healthcare gap between people in the country and those in the city.
"Access to healthcare for people in rural and regional settings can be an issue and patients suffering from chronic conditions may go undetected and untreated and this could mean much worse prognosis," Ms Ratcliffe said.
"I really want to help communities and people with conditions like my dad's who live in rural areas to make sure their conditions don't go unrecognised and make sure they are able to get the help they need."
In her current role Ms Ratcliffe helps to co-ordinate and operate various scans and procedures - from general X-rays and CT scans to dental X-rays and bone density scans.
She said her father is "very proud" and supportive of her decision to pursue medical imaging and that she is looking forward to continue working regional and learning as many different modalities as possible so as to best help rural communities.
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