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Ryan Luck - future graduate

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Ryan Luck
2023 recipient and 3rd-year James Cook University medical student

Ryan Luck’s second year of medical school was progressing well until his own medical crisis threatened to derail his career. 

The healthy 20-year-old was in the middle of studying how to diagnose stroke patients when he suffered his own stroke. 

“It was actually quite ironic. I was practising this system examination - the first thing you do if someone comes into ED and you think they’ve had a stroke - for my assessment in a few days,” Ryan says. 

His Townsville housemate, a third-year medical student, saw his slurred speech and rushed him to hospital. 

“On the way there, we were giving our differentials, like ‘it could be a posterior stroke, it could be this, it could be that’ and we got it right. It was a posterior stroke.” 

Ryan had to relearn some fine motor skills, including writing and typing, and needed surgery to repair a hole in his heart. While in hospital, he kept up with his studies, determined to pass the semester. 

He couldn’t afford financially to redo the whole year again. His parents had spent months away from the family electrical business in his home town of Dalby to care for him in Townsville and he was unable to work while recuperating. 

His stroke was in September and his exams were scheduled for November. He was able to defer them to December, passed, had two weeks off for Christmas and then went straight to Weipa for a placement. 

“I lost pretty much all my holidays, which is not the end of the world, but I use my holidays to work and earn money to support myself through the coming semester, which is why this scholarship was such a huge, huge help for me.” 

Ryan had planned on being a doctor from an early age. His baby sister Hannah died of leukaemia at nine months old and, while he was only a toddler himself, his family still keeps in contact with the doctors and nurses who looked after her. 

“That's one of the main reasons why I wanted to go into medicine. We basically lived at the hospital for eight months, and I guess through Mum and Dad I got an appreciation for how a doctor can be involved in someone's life. 

“Not just the patient, but the family as well in such a sensitive and vulnerable time of their life and how much support they can provide. I see that as a pretty special thing. Not many other professions get that opportunity, so that's definitely something that drew me to medicine. 

“I’m just so grateful this scholarship exists. It was such a huge stress on my health. I was working two casual jobs and I’ve been able to stop one of those since I got the scholarship, so I can now focus on my study and get healthy. I'm just really, really grateful for it.”