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A Higher Calling

Lisa Pryor & Amy Coopes, hosted by Norman Swan

These high-achievers sacrificed successful careers in journalism to take up the rigorous study necessary to become medical doctors. What drives such a sacrifice, and how does it feel to be called to serve?

Sydney Opera House will be offering three talks from this years Antidote Festival free and on-demand for schools across Australia.

Watch on demand anytime between 11 - 18 September 2022

This workshop is available to watch On Demand in your classroom via YouTube at any time that suits you between Sunday 11 - Sunday 18 September 2022.

Book now to watch on demand in your classroom.

The duration of this event is 1 hour

Event duration is a guide only and may be subject to change

This event is free for all Australian high schools

This program is available free of charge to all Australian high schools. Schools can watch via YouTube.

Suitable for Years 9 - 12

This program is recommended for Stages 5 & 6

In English | Auslan interpreted and live captioning available

Auslan interpretation service is provided for audiences who are deaf and use Australian Sign Language (Auslan). Experienced Auslan interpreters will be displayed in the corner of the screen to translate what the speakers are saying into Auslan. The talk will also be live captioned. 

“What if I wasn’t doing enough in this life to truly make a difference?”

Amy Coopes

The kind of frank talk that we need to hear

Lisa Pryor was a lawyer and a columnist until one night in an emergency ward she decided to enter medicine. Now, she is a psychiatry registrar. Amy Coopes was a journalist dispatched to prison cells, natural disaster aftermaths, and to meet victims of violent crimes. After spending so long speaking to the human face of tragedy, she left the newsroom to pursue medicine. They speak to Norman Swan, who famously switched from medicine to journalism, about what compelled them to abandon successful careers in order to embark on the arduous years of training to become doctors.

In light of the pandemic's revelations of the essential nature of healthcare workers, this will be a compelling conversation about individual versus social ambitions, the nature of this ultra-demanding profession, and the gifts of service.

Presented by Sydney Opera House


Dr Lisa Pryor is a psychiatry registrar currently working in perinatal mental health with mothers and babies. Prior to graduating as a medical doctor in 2015, she worked as a journalist for more than a decade, mostly at The Sydney Morning Herald, where her roles included investigative reporter, opinion editor and opinion columnist. More recently she has written opinion columns for The New York Times. She is the author of two books, A Small Book About Drugs and The Pin Striped Prison: How Overachievers Get Trapped In Corporate Jobs They Hate, the latter being inspired by her earlier career change from law to journalism. She has two children. 


Dr Amy Coopes is a Resident Medical Officer and journalist, completing her internship with the inaugural Victorian Rural Generalist Program JMO cohort in 2021. Amy left full-time journalism to pursue a career in medicine, after a decade in news reporting including five years as Australia correspondent for Agence France-Presse. Amy is an editor at Croakey and continues to freelance for publications including Guardian Australia, The Saturday Paper and The BMJ.

Close up portrait of Dr Lisa Pryor smiling
Portrait of Dr Amy Coopes wearing scrubs and glasses

About our Digital Creative Learning program...

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Frequently Asked Questions - On Demand Programs

What equipment do I need?

All you need is an internet connection! Schools can connect through Youtube in an internet browser however works best for your students (as a classroom or on individual computers.)

If you require technical assistance with your video conferencing facilities, contact your schools’ tech support or alternatively contact our Creative Learning team on 02 9250 7770. 

How do I book?

Click on the link for your preferred session time. If it is the first time you have used DART Connections you will be required to set up a username and password. 

Please note that DART connections is the booking platform for all of our sessions and you will need to book here even if you are not a NSW or DET school.

Once your booking has been confirmed, our team will be in touch with relevant dial in details and to address any technical questions you may have.

What if I can’t book in for the session I want?

Our interactive workshops have limited spaces and do often book out. However it is always a good idea to contact if you can’t book in for your preferred session as sometimes we are able to make rearrangements to fit you in. 

Many of our Author Talks and pre-recorded workshops are also available on demand after their original live-streaming to provide more flexibility in your school day! 

What if I need to change or cancel my booking?

Should you discover that the time or date you have previously booked is not suitable, please contact Sydney Opera House Creative Learning on 02 9250 7770 or and we will try our best to accommodate you.

How can I prepare my class for their session?

Once your booking is confirmed, our Creative Learning team will send you an email with all the details to prepare for your session. To ensure your students get the most out of the experience, a Teachers’ Resource Pack is available for most programs (see the top of the page). We recommend using these resources in advance of your digital excursion.

How many students can I have participate in the one group? 

As the program is non-interactive, you can book for as many students as you like - a whole school booking of 500 or a single home learner - all are welcome and can be accommodated! 

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