Indigenous Health Scholarship
University of Newcastle, NSW
Bachelor of Medicine
Scholarship Awarded 2019 – 2021
Rotary Clubs of Forbes/Junee
How will I contribute to improving Indigenous health as a qualified medical practitioner or health worker?
I am a Yuin man from the Bodalla mob on the south coast of NSW. My great grandfather was John Pittman the King of Bodalla. My father and grandmother moved from the mission in Batemans Bay after the second World War to find work in Nowra and this is where I was born and grew up.
The reason why I decided to study medicine was that I have seen and experienced much inequality in the health of my people and wish to make a difference. Like myself my brother had a career change late in life to become a GP and is now working in Nowra Aboriginal Medical Service which is what I intend to do on completion of my studies, to give back to my community.
Indigenous health is very close to my heart as I have had many relatives and members of my community die or suffer from chronic illnesses at much higher rates than the non-Indigenous community. Particularly in relation to chronic and communicable diseases, infant health, mental health and life expectancy.
My role as an Indigenous doctor will be one of providing the necessary medical health care to the Indigenous community I will be living and working in. This medical care needs to be delivered in a comfortable and culturally appropriate setting. This is something that I believe to be very important as a lot of the elders believe that hospitals are a place of dying. That is why Aboriginal Medical Services with Indigenous doctors need to be supported and are crucial in the ongoing care of the community.
I see my future role as a GP as an opportunity to continue being a role model and mentor for others in community. A lot of my people are coming from broken homes and may be lacking some positive guidance. By leading by example and offering support, encouragement and advice when needed, I hope to make a significant difference to the communities.
Current Progressive Report
“Wallawani” In Yuin this translates to ‘welcome, I hope you have had a safe journey’ or ‘goodbye and I wish you a safe journey’. I hope you and your families and all in the community are well and safe.
Firstly I would firstly like to thank Rotary Australia and a special mention to Mr Grahame Uphill and all the members of Forbes Rotary Club who reside on the beautiful Wiradjuri Country for your generosity, support and the lovely thank you card I received earlier this year.
As mentioned in my last update I was looking forward to my critical care rotation. This consisted of blocks in emergency, intensive care, and anaesthetics. So far in my medical journey this has been my most enjoyable term. It has also guided my decision in becoming a Rural Generalist with a sub-speciality in Emergency Medicine. I believe that this will give me the necessary skills to be a competent doctor working in rural/remote regions.
I have a good friend on the south coast who was formerly from Forbes and his father whom I never met was a doctor there, Dr Dent who passed away a few years ago. His widowed wife has long been telling me that when you become a Doctor Chris, you need to go to Forbes to practice, they need people like you out there.
So no promises but you never know. One thing I do know, is that I would feel very welcomed.
The funding that I so gratefully received has helped me pay for my education costs, it has contributed to my accommodation costs, and also to maintaining my car. For this assistance I am very thankful. With the surprise gift in the thank you card, I used the funds to buy some good headphones so the I listen to medical podcasts and some music in my downtime.
I am currently nearing the end of my general medicine rotation which consists of an hour of education every morning followed by ward rounds with the consultant and the rest of the team. I have been fortunate enough to be assigned to a very good renal physician, however unfortunately, most our patients have many comorbidities which is a challenge to manage. This gives me a great learning exposure and really tests my knowledge. I think the profession I have chosen will be one where I will constantly be learning.
Being indigenous, indigenous health and affairs are important to me and I was scheduled to be going to the Northern Territory in a month to work at an Aboriginal Medical Service but with the current state of COVID19 that has now been cancelled and I will now be going to an AMS in Forster. I have a mentor who works at this practice so it will be good to spend some time with him and working in the local indigenous community.
After that my last placement in my medical degree will be in General Practice at Harrington on the mid north coast. I can’t believe that I am nearly finished. In September I find out where I will be placed for the next two years. It will most likely be Wagga Waaga, Orange, Albury, Dubbo, or Tamworth as I am a rural cadet and have to go to one of these sites. I promise to keep you informed on the outcome.
Thank you once again for your support and for not only being an important part of my medical journey but for being a part of my growth and development as a human in this wonderful country.