Alexander Burke
Alexander Burke

Alexander Burke

Indigenous Health Scholarship

University of Sydney, NSW
Bachelor of Pharmacy
Scholarship Awarded 2020
Sponsored by:

Paul & Julia Reid & Dr King Gan

Indigenous Health Scholarships Program

How will I contribute to improving Indigenous health as a qualified medical practitioner or health worker?

For a long time, I have grappled with the question, when I first started my degree of Bachelor of Pharmacy, I only thought that our main goal was handing out medicines.   However, since undertaking this course I have opened my eyes to the many possibilities this career has, and how these can be undertaken by me to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The first role of a pharmacist is to be a medication expert, we are meant to know how medicines work, when and how to take them, what to expect when taking them and any adverse events that could come about whilst taking this medicine.   A sad reality of the current times we are in is that many Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders suffer from more chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, another sad reality is that Indigenous people are not very health literate.  Being able to effectively communicate how to take one’s medicine can have a positive impact on the outcome of many chronic conditions, also being able to talk directly to patients I could find ways to managing issues they may have such as not taking medicines due to side effects.   By being a proactive provider of care and taking the time to listen to what the person has to say,k I can contribute to helping improve the Indigenous health of this country.

Following on from this, many people don’t realise that many pharmacies and pharmacists provide medical services that were once reserved for medical practitioners.   Pharmacies can provide blood pressure checks, quick blood glucose monitoring and lung function tests.   Unfortunately, high rates of fatty food defined sugars, alcohol and tobacco smoke has had a devastating impact on the health of Indigenous population but being able to catch chronic conditions early and being able to refer people on to doctors before worse things can happen would be rewarding task to have in the future.   Following on from this, being able to intervene and provide ways to help people with their diet and talking to people about quitting smoking and lowering their alcohol content is another way that I’ll be able to contribute to improving health outcomes as a pharmacist.  Finally, on this point of providing services as a pharmacist being able to provide vaccines for people who may not be able to see or afford a doctor would be a very rewarding way of contributing to bettering the health of Indigenous population.

From originally think that being a pharmacist would mean I would be a glorified shop keeper to learning many different ways that a pharmacist can contribute to the community and learning that they are some of the most important people in healthcare, I look forward to the future that lies ahead and to myself being able to better the health of Indigenous Australians.

Current Progressive Report

This Last semester has been the most challenging of my pharmacy degree but has also been the most rewarding. The year started like most except I also took on the responsibility of honours which was a new and daunting experience to me, It was hard work to begin with and as the semester went on the challenge also grew bigger having to deal with multiple subjects that almost asked too much of me, and I felt that my head was just above water, I had good support however at university and home which kept pushing me on.

Also, this year marked the biggest upheaval of how I studied, with the pandemic sweeping across the nation and forcing us to start studying abroad from our houses. This was especially challenging as I couldn’t see my friends as often as I would have liked. But this new change did have some convenience as not going into university everyday allowed me to focus more on my university work which I felt in the previous years was harder to put time aside for.

Despite the newfound challenges that this year brought, I surprisingly rose to the occasion and got the highest marks in my university career and I came first in a subject for first time in my academic life which I never expected to happen. This was very surprising and quite uplifting in these difficult times and also brought some joy back into my life after some difficult personal issues arose towards the end of semester.

After a nice break away from university, and easing restrictions which meant I could visit friends again, I feel refreshed and invigorated to start the new semester, especially now that these last couple of months of my university degree are going to be focused towards my honours project.

Currently as I near the end of my Pharmacy degree I’m now trying to apply for internships at hospitals where I can spend the required year, I need to become a fully registered Pharmacist.

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