Corey O’Shaughnessy
Corey O’Shaughnessy

Corey O’Shaughnessy

Indigenous Health Scholarship

Notre Dame University, WA
Bachelor of Medicine
Scholarship Awarded 2018-2020
Sponsored by:

Rotary Club of Matilda Bay

Indigenous Health Scholarships Program

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

I grew up in regional Western Australia, which was challenging in terms of access to adequate healthcare facilities.    General practitioners were booked out weeks in advance, there were minimal locum specialist clinics and no adequate surgical facilities.   I have seen this system expand and develop over time, however, I have also experienced the brunt of the problem.   Having to travel hundreds of kilometres just for a CT scan, travelling to and from Perth fro pediatric appointments, waiting months for locum services, and losing immediate family to coronary artery disease are some of the most significant, of many, reason of how disadvantaged the rural healthcare setting is.   I have witnessed and experienced the implications from a lack of essential healthcare services and that is the driving force for me to become a doctor.  I would like to use my position as a qualified health practitioner to help address inequities in the rural healthcare setting to improve patient outcomes.

My interests are contralised around changing Indigenous health outcomes through education and intervention, improving health literacy within regional Indigenous communities, and working to enhance access to essential health services.   I believe this will strengthen treatment regimens and ultimately reduce the amount of preventable deaths in the rural Aboriginal communities.

Coronary artery disease is one of the leading causes of preventable death among Aboriginal communities and I believe this burden remains unaddressed in the rural setting.   Infrequent cardiology outpatient clinics, lack of intervention screening and lack of adequate surgical facilities is something patients are less likely to experience in a metropolitan area.   However, for many rural and regional towns this is a common story and it is to the detriment of the patient and their families.

My first goal is to complete my medical degree and go on to complete my internship and residency in a rural teaching hospital.   I believe this will provide me with greater exposure to Aboriginal groups from diverse backgrounds and will allow me to further explore the real impact of poor access to health services on them at an individual, family and spiritual level.   In addition, I would like to commence my registrar training in either general medicine or emergency medicine as this will afford me the opportunity to travel around regional Western Australia – with a broad set of skills that I can apply in practice.  During my registrar training I would also like to undertake a research project to investigate the link between poor access to health and increased rates of morbidity and mortality in remote Aboriginal communities as this will provide greater strength in advocating the need for funding and services in the rural context.

Current Progressive Report

I am now in my final year of medicine and I am so excited and proud that I have made it to this point. There have been so many barriers to get to where I am today and, fortunately, through receipt of scholarships I have been able to mitigate the financial barriers that were present. Last year was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster due to the sheer volume of work that was expected from us. It was so unreal/unexpected to have so much responsibility as a medical student – assisting in surgery, consulting in outpatient clinics, assisting in ward rounds, note writing, cannulation and so much more.

I have now had one and a half years of clinical practice and real-life experience and I believe I have really found myself and the career I am so passionate about.  I have loved every single placement I have done, which is a surprise to me as I anticipated a different outcome. This only proves to me that I was supposed to do medicine and that I will only flourish in my future years as a doctor.

This year, due to COVID19, I had lost any source of work that I could do to support myself and with the ongoing health and social needs as outlined in my application I was very stressed financially. This is why I am so appreciative of your scholarship and the relief it will provide me. Primarily, this fund will be used for general living costs, my medical bills, and educational materials that I require to carry me through to the end of this degree. At this point in the degree, I do recognise that it is a marathon and not a sprint to the light at the end of the tunnel. I just need to take it one day at a time and focus on everything I need to do to succeed, which has only been made possible through the support of yourself and other donors.

Another issue secondary to the COVID19 was the cancellation of a huge proportion of my clinical attachments this year, which has been very disrupting to our studies. However, I am extremely excited as I will be going down to Esperance for my rural general practice term. This is of great significance to me as I will be able to return home and see my family and friends, whilst contributing to the health needs of my community.

Again, I would like to thank you for providing me with the opportunities that I have received as they have allowed me to pursue my career in medicine.

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