WRAD’s new doctor Sylvie Gjerde could have been dancing with the likes of Justin Bieber and Janet Jackson, instead she’s now monitoring heart beats rather than dancing to hip hop beats.

While studying to become a doctor and during her time living in New Zealand, Dr Gjerde was a hip hop teacher mixing with elite performers.

“Some of the people I was dancing with went on to have fabulous careers dancing in music videos for the likes of Justin Bieber and Janet Jackson, but I went to medicine instead,” she said.

Dr Gjerde doesn’t regret the move and has joined WRAD’s Handbury Medical Suites for six months as part of the GP Registrar program.

While studying to become a doctor, she got to act on her life-long love of music and dance.

“I loved Michael Jackson when I was little and used to dance around the kitchen to Bad,” she said.

“It is hard to make a career of it but I taught all through uni there was a massive hip hop scene in Auckland when I moved there.”

She had hoped to revive her hip hop teaching in Warrnambool. COVID-19 has curtailed those plans for now, although she will investigate Zoom options.

“I was going to teach a class but then lockdown happened,” she said. “Dancing is so good for your mood.”

Dr Gjerde originally planned to become an ecologist and completed a voluntary research project in the Andes using radio collars to track bears, but her true calling came to the fore.

“I realised I was more interested in the people I was spending time with and thought I should study people instead, so I decided to become a doctor,” she said.

She added that the career change was not purely altruistic. “I find my work very interesting,” she said. “People’s lives are incredibly interesting and it’s such a privilege to be part of that. People very generously open up to their GP.”

Dr Gjerde will be with WRAD until February next year, after which she will continue her GP training at the Warrnambool Base Hospital where she will focus on women’s health.

She completed her first year of GP training in Melbourne and previously worked as a doctor at St Vincent’s Hospital, which included a placement in Warrnambool.

While medicine gave her a chance to help people, becoming a GP takes that a step further.
“I relish the breadth of practice in being able to follow patients through all the different stages of life and being able to advocate for people, especially those who might be disadvantaged.”