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Ambulance Paramedic Turned Doctor: Rhys Nathanielsz’s Inspiring Journey of Perseverance and Impact

Rhys Nathanielsz (PY2009) has carved an extraordinary path for himself. From his early days at Bunbury Grammar to his current roles as an Ambulance Paramedic at St John WA and a dedicated medical student, Rhys’s journey is one that demonstrates our graduates can achieve at whatever they put their mind to.

Diverse Beginnings

Graduating from Bunbury Grammar in 2009, Rhys’s journey took an unconventional route. Starting with volunteering stints at Fire and Rescue in 2010 and later at St John WA in 2011, he embarked on a journey that led him through various industries. He worked in community pharmacy, local government, mining, and court security and custodial services from 2010 to 2015.

Seizing Opportunities

Rhys’s hunger for learning and personal growth fuelled his determination. He entered the St John WA Student Ambulance Officer program in 2016 and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Paramedicine in 2019. Within St John WA, he held numerous roles, from hospital-based liaison and frontline management to executive team positions. Notably, he even spearheaded innovative pilot projects, showcasing his penchant for making a positive impact.

Unwavering Dedication

Rhys’s accomplishments extend beyond the workplace. His commitment to volunteering shone through in his involvement with diverse organisations, from mentoring youth to fulfilling the last wishes of palliative patients through the Ambulance Wish initiative. He also served as a Board Member and Chair of a childcare NFP, exhibiting his dedication to community welfare.

Rising Above Challenges

Rhys’s journey is a testament to his determination to rise above challenges. He candidly shared, “When I left BCGS I had a very average TEE (ATAR) score and didn’t have strong opportunities to study at university.” Undeterred, he entered the workforce, gaining valuable life experience, taking the path to higher education through alternative means. He attributes his achievements to his unwavering self-drive, complemented by the support of his wife and children.

Embracing Independence

Rhys’s self-reliance has been a cornerstone of his success. He reflected, “I have always been driven to achieve success via my own independence.” This attribute has fuelled his commitment to self-fund his university studies, proactively seek diverse work opportunities, and dedicate time to volunteering. This ethos of independence is a shared value with his wife, nurturing a strong partnership that balances their careers, education, and family life.

Looking to the Horizon

Rhys’s journey continues with a continued focus on unique experiences in both work and education. As he pursues his Doctor of Medicine degree (2023-2026), he eagerly anticipates the end of his studies to embark on international travels, a passion temporarily paused by the pandemic and family responsibilities.

Influential Educator

Reflecting on his roots, Rhys fondly remembers Mr Connellan, his Human Biology teacher at Bunbury Grammar. “His dry sense of humour, immense knowledge of the subjects and unique delivery of the content made for a constantly engaging and interactive interaction with often complex concepts. His teaching style fostered my early passions for the study of the human body,” Rhys stated.

Cherished Memories

Rhys’s cherished memories of Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School revolve around the unique educational experience it offers in a regional setting. He remarked, “Attending a school which delivers the level of education it does in the local bush and regional environment it does, made for a unique and contrasting experience, which was very supportive of a quality education.”

A Unique Legacy

Rhys Nathanielsz’s journey exemplifies perseverance, adaptability, and the power of embracing diverse opportunities. From his humble beginnings to his current roles and aspirations, he continues to leave an impact on the lives he touches, carrying with him the essence of independence, community, and the pursuit of knowledge.

We were lucky enough to have Rhys back at the School last Friday to discuss with students who are part of the Medical and Allied Health Specialist Pathway Program, his journey into the field of medicine. He also led a practical session on bones and bone injuries, sharing some of his experiences over the years.


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