Benjamin Ninyett
Benjamin Ninyett

Benjamin Ninyett

Indigenous Health Scholarship 2022

University of Western Australia, WA

Doctor of Medicine
Scholarship Awarded 2021

Sponsored by:
Rotary Club of Matilda Bay

Indigenous Health Scholarship Program

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

As a young Indigenous male training to become a medical doctor I would like to see the health gap between the indigenous and non-Indigenous population closed within my lifetime. It is a huge injustice within our society that being born Indigenous reduces both physical and mental health outcomes. One of my main goals as a health practitioner will be to improve these outcomes and reduce disease burden within the Indigenous population. The health gap is a multifactorial and complex problem and achieving closure of the gap will require a multifactorial solution that I personally do not have all the answers for. Through my studies in medical school, research and through indigenous patients I aim to improve my understanding and work towards providing equitable health care for Indigenous Australians.

After graduating with a degree in medicine I would like to eventually specialize in the field of psychiatry, an area I have had a particular interest in since my undergraduate degree. I believe specialization in this field will give me a great opportunity to improve the health care outcomes of indigenous patients. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 29% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders self-reported currently having a mental health condition, which again is an area of health where the Indigenous population is dis-proportionally affected. Seeking help for mental health is often a lengthy and costly endeavor, especially for rural and remote populations. One of my goals in this field would be to improve access to Indigenous populations as well as providing it for free to those in need. I would hope that this charitable act and advocacy would inspire other doctors to follow suite and work together to reduce the gap.

Becoming a doctor is a great privilege and I am passionate about using this opportunity to give back to the Indigenous community, improve health outcomes and work towards creating a more equitable society. I would like to achieve this through improving access, reducing health care costs and advocating for equitable health care for the Indigenous community.

Current Progressive Report

I am currently in the middle of my third year of medical school and moving throughout different clinical specialties trying to gain more experience. So far this year I have done surgery, psychiatry, paediatrics, general practice, ophthalmology and internal medicine. I have definitely noticed an exponential increase in the breadth and depth of my knowledge which is a rewarding experience after the amount of time I have put in studying. A lot of the previous gaps in my knowledge have been filled with my experiences on specific specialities. For example, prior to this year I had very little knowledge of eye pathology but after just a few weeks in ophthalmology I feel very confidant with the subject.

I’m nearing the end of my rotations with exams coming up soon. Just one more rotation in obstetrics and gynaecology and then I will be doing my OSCE and written exam. This is my first year doing a proper OSCE so I am a little bit apprehensive about how it will go, but I think I have put in the effort this year and should be able to get through.

As part of my medical degree, I have also started a scholarly research project this year through the university. My research is looking at the effects of cannabis use in pregnancy with the effects on the neonate and looking at the cost of these effects. We just moved into our data collection phase after gaining ethics approval in early August. I’m very excited to see what our results show and move into the data analysis. I think this opportunity is such a good experience for myself as I’m gaining crucial research skills that will help me down the line with further projects. I will also hopefully be able to secure a publication of my research report in a journal, which would be a big plus for career prospects down the line including speciality applications.

Outside of my university work I have also started a new job tutoring indigenous first-year medical students. Indigenous students have a disproportionately high fail rate compared to their non-indigenous counterparts and it’s an issue I am very passionate about. I find tutoring is a direct way I can help these students get past one of the most difficult years of medicine and continue into a profession with a severely low indigenous representation. It’s also an additional benefit that the university will completely subsidize these sessions for the students allowing them to get more support and allow me to still earn money during my difficult clinical years where time is a lacking resource.

Outside of my medical life I am still training and trying to improve my power-lifting totals. I competed for my first time this year in July. I was very happy to have won my first ever competition and I’m really excited to continue competing in more serious competitions next year. Currently I am aiming to compete in March and I’m starting my training for that in late December.

In conclusion, I am moving through my third year of medicine, continuing to learn and improve myself while also trying to help others along the process. I’m excited for the upcoming years with graduation and finalisation of my research report. I’m hoping everything goes well and I make there by 2023.

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