Dr Geordan Shannon is a doctor in the pubic health sphere. Her work has taken her around the world, from her role as a rural medical officer  in Katherine, to completing a PhD at the UCL institute of global health, and volunteering in South America promoting cervical cancer screening and prevention. She described herself as a “pleasantly lost” junior doctor that became frustrated seeing the “end stage” of people’s disease. Conversely, we learn how she thinks her current research is making a difference on a bigger scale.

Geordan describes what a typical day involves and the people and organisations she works with. She shares the rich experiences she has shared with drug companies, researchers and global health experts. In particular, she enjoys being able to think creatively and talk to people not in the medical profession. When overseas, her work is “frustrating, rewarding, exciting and tiring”, being pushed by local politics, policy and resources. We learn how she deals with these pressing and often unrelenting circumstances.

Geordan offers fantastic insight into the practicality of public health work. Listen in to learn how she has  (or hasn’t!) juggled family, friends, romance, travel and work. In summary, it’s “not easy, but not impossible”. She quite enjoys the constant change that the profession brings. In contrast, she found herself constricted by the medical training programs and pressure to reach the “next level” repeatedly.

Her advice to students is to “start small” with our ambitions, and to remember that as interns we will be “learning, and not perfect”. She also encourages us to learn “broadly and systematically” about health issues in medicine by taking some time off and exploring other interests. This “life experience” shines through when it comes to interacting with patients from all walks of life

We hope you guys enjoy this podcast! Feel free to send through any questions you may have for Dr Geordan Shannon, and give us feedback on this week’s episode by filling out the survey.

Pathways into Public Health:

Medical School → Internship → Masters of Public Health (recommended; 1-2 years)

Source: Monash University (degree available at other universities around Australia as well)


According to the Australian Government Taxation Data, in the 2013-14 income year we had approximately:

  • 3,252 female public health specialists earning an average of $118,310
  • 3,551 male public health specialists earning an average of $187,468
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TMC032: Public Health with Dr Geordan Shannon
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