Army medical officer Major Bethan Ganderton clearly recalls the moment she knew she wanted to become a doctor and help people.

“I was watching the images of the devastating Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004 on TV, and right then I decided I needed to study medicine so I could do something to assist other people in need,” she said.

In her first year studying medicine at the Australian National University in Canberra, she approached the Defence Force recruiters, who visited the campus, and signed up to the ADF’s Graduate Medical Program.

“I was in cadets when I was younger and was always interested in the opportunity of joining the Army, so when the program was presented to me, I took up the challenge,” Major Ganderton said.

After doing her internship at Canberra Hospital, Major Ganderton experienced working in more challenging environments, including in remote Indigenous communities in far north Queensland, which helped foster her passion for preventative medicine.

Major Ganderton, who is posted at the 2nd Surgical Company, 2nd Health Battalion at Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera, said she was excited to be on her first operational deployment with the ADF as part of Joint Task Group 629.1 on Operation COVID-19 Assist.

“It is just so exciting, given my interest in general practice and preventative medicine, that I can put my training and experience as a medical officer in the ADF into practice and, most importantly, be able to provide vital assistance to communities in need at this very challenging time,” she said.

Major Ganderton is leading the vaccination outreach team (VOT) program, which is supporting NSW Health to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to regional, remote and vulnerable communities in western NSW.

After launching the VOT tasks at Dubbo, Major Ganderton and her five teams will join NSW and Australian Medical Assistant Teams as they fan out across the western side of the state.

“I am anticipating that it will be increasingly challenging and hard work, but also very rewarding,” she said.