Johanna Mousley



Deakin Doctor of Medicine


Waurn Ponds Geelong

Graduation year


Current position

Orthopaedic registrar


Deakin Doctor of Medicine alum Johanna Mousley loves the way orthopaedic surgery combines her passions for sport and art. Currently an unaccredited orthopaedic registrar for Barwon Health in Geelong, this is her career journey so far.

What drew Johanna to orthopaedic surgery?

The combination of relevance to both sport and art drew Deakin alum Johanna Mousley to orthopaedic surgery.

‘The operating theatre combines that love of anatomy and being able to use your hands,’ she explains. ‘When an operation is finished and you get the X-rays, it’s kind of exciting because it’s almost like the finished product of an art piece.’

Now working as an unaccredited orthopaedic registrar for Barwon Health in Geelong, Johanna is committed to the long road ahead to hopefully one day become an orthopaedic surgeon.

‘Theoretically you can become an orthopaedic surgeon in 13 years from starting medical school – but it often will take much longer,’ Johanna explains.

This includes the Doctor of Medicine, which Johanna finished in 2020, at least four years working as a doctor, then the highly-competitive competency based Australia Orthopaedic Association AOA 21 Training Program. Acceptance onto this accreditation program is still on the horizon for Johanna, but she’s already worked several years in orthopaedics and she is loving it more every day.

A glimpse into the day of an orthopaedic registrar

Johanna’s current role at Barwon Health combines in-patient and out-patient consultations with assisting in the operating theatre.

When she’s on call, she takes phone calls from around the hospital and the Geelong region providing advice to other doctors whose patients have suspected fractures, admits patients into hospital when required and checks the progress of patients in the outpatient community, for example those wearing casts for broken bones.

Every morning, she does a ward round to check on any orthopaedic patients staying in the hospital. Then, she regularly assists in the operating theatre under the mentorship of senior surgeons who perform a wide variety of operations.

‘Then I’m always checking with the consultant in charge to make sure they’re happy with all my plans,’ Johanna adds. If her career pans out the way she’s planning, one day she’ll rise to the level of that consultant in charge and be ultimately responsible for decisions.

The road from art, science and sport to medicine

Johanna began her career in medicine with an interest in becoming a GP, paediatrician or psychiatrist – all ‘very different from orthopaedics,’ she says.

Teenaged Johanna loved sport, umpired boys’ footy and was heavily involved in the rowing team at her high school, Geelong’s Sacred Heart College. She also enjoyed art, chemistry and maths and decided early to pursue medicine.

After completing her undergraduate degree in biomedicine, Johanna was thrilled to be accepted into Deakin’s Doctor of Medicine back home in Geelong.

But it wasn’t until the first clinical rotation at University Hospital Geelong in her third year studying that Johanna realised orthopaedics was ‘the one area of medicine that kept getting me really excited,’ she recalls. She describes it as a ‘particularly rewarding speciality’ due to the ‘huge quality of life improvements’ that are possible in patients at all stages of life.

A highlight of her degree was a ‘mind-boggling’ trip to India for a work experience placement at All India Institute of Medical Science in New Delhi, one of the biggest trauma hospitals in India, where the surgeons have honed their craft dealing with a huge volume of cases.

‘There’s a particular operation where you fix a hip, which normally takes a good half an hour to an hour – they did it in four minutes,’ she recalls.

When an operation is finished and you get the X-rays, it’s kind of exciting because it’s almost like the finished product of an art piece.

Johanna Mousley

Doctor of Medicine

From a pandemic to regional to research success

After her internship at Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH), Johanna was offered a senior resident role specialising in orthopaedics. It was mid-pandemic at the end of 2020 – a ‘somewhat scary’ launch to her career.

‘We had to wear PPE all the time, and at Royal Melbourne we had a lot of COVID patients. I remember being in ED and having to see my first COVID patient – I had to be in all of the gear and the patient was in a hood,’ she remembers.

Post-COVID, Johanna founded the RMH Run Club as a way to keep fit and meet new people. Open to all staff at the hospital, the group would meet weekly for a run and dinner, then compete in events such as the Great Ocean Road half marathon.

Johanna’s three years at Royal Melbourne included stints working in Wangaratta, Horsham and regional and rural New South Wales, and even a trip to Italy to present some research into shoulder rehabilitation she had completed with the Deakin-affiliated Barwon Centre for Orthopaedic Research & Education (B-CORE) in Geelong.

She also published a study based on a survey of over 300 surgeons, which found a strong desire for more sustainable surgical practices and products.

‘It’s a topic I’m really passionate about,’ says Johanna.

Always working to help those in need

It’s this kind of passion that has been a driving force throughout Johanna’s career so far. This drive was a big factor in her being awarded the George Golding scholarship at the end of her first year of her Doctor of Medicine at Deakin.

‘He was a GP who worked in the Geelong region and the scholarship is awarded to someone in the Deakin Medical School that was likely to contribute to the Western Victoria community,’ Johanna explains.

Some of the organisations Johanna supported with volunteer work during her first years of study included Samaritan House, a safe home for homeless men, headspace Geelong, a youth mental health centre, and Outpost, which provides meals to those in need.

She hopes becoming more qualified within medicine will open up more opportunities to support communities in need in the future. Having ‘the skills to be able to do something impactful’ is one of the reasons she chose to pursue medicine to begin with.

Enjoying the journey

Johanna is enjoying being back on home turf in Geelong, living closer to family and the beach and continuing her research working alongside local mentors.  

After some more experience as an unaccredited registrar this year, she plans on applying to the training program to become accredited – but she’s ‘realistic’ about her prospects in what she describes as ‘a particularly tough speciality’.

‘I think my biggest motto is to just enjoy the journey,’ she says.

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