Indigenous Health Scholarship
University of Notre Dame, WA
Doctor of Medicine
Scholarship Awarded 2020
Rotary Club of Wanneroo
How will I contribute to improving Indigenous health as a qualified medical practitioner or health worker?
My motivation for wanting to become a Doctor is a dynamic and constantly evolving one. It began growing up in the country with poor access to female practitioners. When I visited Denmark (the country) on Rotary Youth Exchange I saw the incredible health care system and developed a passion for health. Later when I commenced studying at the University of Western Australia (UWA), I learned how to intellectualise and articulate the disparities I experienced and witnessed, most notably access to education, living in isolation, housing instability and racism. At UWA, I knew and met Aboriginal medical students who inspired and encouraged me to believe that I too could be a Doctor. I could be someone who could make a difference. Since enrolling in the University of Notre Dame MD program, I am presently 1 of 2 Aboriginal students in a class of 110. To me, this demonstrated the need for more Aboriginal representation and advocacy. Now going into my final year of medicine I have learned more about the systematic exclusion of Aboriginal people and believe that structural changes also needs to occur from within , which can only be done via Aboriginal people with the help of some amazing allies.
Community involvement is something that I hold dear. It has allowed me to make a family away from home and afforded me a sense of belonging. Briefly, I have been involved with the Rotary Club of Crawley, however due to study commitments I have had to reduce my level of involvement. I’ve previously volunteered for Zero to Hero, promoted Mental Health and wellbeing at schools and was involved in a suicide awareness program. In my second year of medicine I was accepted into the Broome Aboriginal Health On-Country Placement, and spent time with local Broome custodians to gain an insight into how Aboriginal controlled organisations are addressing health issues. Currently I spend every summer vacation volunteering at Tranby (a homeless shelter) in East Perth where a significant portion of clients are Aboriginal. I also assist in the pre-med programs for incoming Aboriginal students and mentor Aboriginal students in years below me.
My aspirations in the next 5-10 years, is to firstly graduate at the end of 2020. I am hoping to complete my internship at Royal Perth Hospital, as the homeless clients I volunteer with routinely present to RPH.
Current Progressive Report
I am currently on a surgical rotation and preparing for exams. There are 77 days until my first exam in October. I have been studying consistently and so far, am feeling confident about passing my exams. There is still a bit of uncertainty as to when they will actually be and depends entirely on Western Australia’s management of COVID. So far, so good.
A little bit about myself. I am a Yamatiji woman who has grown-up all-over WA. I was born in Paraburdoo and spent a significant amount of time in Meekatharra on a station. I was incredibly fortunate to attend a boarding school in Northam where the boarding house manager was a Rotary member. She saw something in me and suggested I start to attend Rotary meetings and consider applying for a Rotary International Youth Exchange, which I got and went to Denmark in 2011. I actually spoke to a Danish friend that I met on exchange just yesterday- they apparently have better whether than us currently. I certainly can’t wait to get back there and be a host parent in the future! Since then Rotary have always had a strong presence in my life, even if I don’t get to meetings as often as I would like. While medicine hasn’t allowed me to much spare time, with the spare time I do get I enjoy a range of things. These include growing my house plants and getting my private pilot’s licence. The latter has been put on hold since I started medicine due to a glaring lack of income. I look forward to getting back into it when I begin working.
The year, as you would know, has been disrupted due to COVID. This has impacted on the placements I got to attend. I unfortunately missed out on aspects of the critical care rotation including intensive care and anaesthetics placements. I thoroughly enjoy the theory behind these two placements, so I was disappointed that I was unable to attend. In comparison to other years we, the final year students, were incredibly lucky that placement was only suspended for half a rotation. This was all expertly managed by our clinical dean Jane Courtney and I cannot praise her enough for the incredible job she has done.
A more exciting part of the year was applying for internship. The application process was quite daunting. It consisted of two parts; a resume and an essay addressing selection criteria. The selection criteria were the most challenging for me as I found it difficult to talk about myself at length with relevant examples. It was also the first time I was applying for a serious position. After a few edits, I submitted. Royal Perth Hospital was my first preference. Offers came out 4 weeks later and I am proud, and relieved, I got accepted into Royal Perth Hospital for internship! It appears that I will be an intern next year alongside sixteen fellow Notre Dame medical students.