From the maternity ward to AFLW glory: meet the footy-playing doctor

Like almost all professional female athletes, Tiarna Ernst juggles her full-time work commitments with part-time elite sporting ambitions.

Her hard work and sacrifice paid off when she became an AFLW premiership player on Saturday.

Ernst was solid at centre-half-back for the Western Bulldogs who triumphed over the Brisbane Lions in a six-point thriller in the fledgling competition's second Grand Final.

The 28-year-old might have the safest hands in women's footy — when she's not taking screamers on the half back line, the obstetrician is delivering crying newborn babies.

Tiarna Ernst is a far north Queensland product who developed her footy skills playing for the Manunda Hawks in Cairns.

In 2013, she relocated to Melbourne to further both her on-field and off-field careers.

After impressing for Diamond Creek Women's Football Club in the women's VFL, she was selected to represent Victoria before being drafted by the Bulldogs for the inaugural AFLW competition in 2017.

The dogs were last year's wooden spooners but are now the reigning premiers.

"It's been a bit of a whirlwind journey but not without lots of struggle and sacrifice; it was an effort and it's just incredible that I get this reward now," Ernst said.

For love, not money: AFLW star sacrifices financial reward for team success

Team success is the chief reward, given Ernst earns just $8,500 for her five-month AFLW commitments, the lowest wage in the competition's three-tier payment structure.

Ernst has taken a financial hit to play women's football at the elite level while tackling her two professions, both of which have demanding but differing, training loads.

"It just means I get no rest, I'm go, go, go all the time," she said.

"But I've also got this small window of opportunity to have this incredible experience, to play the game, and I know that opportunity won't be available in many years to come."

For information on financial planning for athletes or medical professional, please visit our Whole Wealth Athletes page or Whole Wealth Medical page.

This article was published and provided by the ABC.

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