Lithgow girl Laura Hailstone has returned to the area after a decade away studying medicine.
Laura is currently studying at Lithgow's Notre Dame University campus as she undertakes her final year at the Lithgow Clinical School.
Laura grew up in South Bowenfels and went to Cooerwull Public School and Blue Mountains Grammar for High School. She was also the 2014 Lithgow Showgirl.
"My passion has always been in human biology and health so practicing medicine is the best way I can give back to the community and do what I love," she said.
Laura said it was 'surreal' to be back in her hometown a decade after leaving for university.
"I had always planned to return to practice in a rural setting and Notre Dame's Lithgow campus was the perfect opportunity to begin that journey," she said.
Laura said she is aiming to become a Rural Generalist with the Australian College of Rural and Remote medicine.
"Similar to the multi-talented doctors working in our hospital," she said.
Laura said studying in a rural setting, particularly in Lithgow, was the best way to get first hand experience as to what life is like as country doctor.
"Not only professionally, but as a member of the community," she said.
"Rural practice presents a diverse range of patients, the ability to offer continuity of care throughout their journey and from what I have observed, a great work-life balance."
Laura has gotten the chance to work with many of Lithgow's GP and hospital staff.
"Everyone is so friendly, I have missed the country charm and my fellow Notre Dame students have all felt a warm welcome," she said.
"Secondly, just about every staff member has multiple qualifications to fulfil multiple roles in our town's healthcare.
"This is truly a testament to the team work and community-minded focus of the staff."
The students were welcomed at a dinner attended by attended by local doctors, Mayor Ray Thompson, General Manager Craig Butler, A/Prof John Dearin, staff and students.