Jacinta Devitt
Jacinta Devitt

Jacinta Devitt

Indigenous Health Scholarship 2022

University of Western Australia, WA

Doctor of Medicine
Scholarship Awarded 2021

Sponsored by:
Rotary Club of Wanneroo

Indigenous Health Scholarship Program

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

One of the main areas I would aim to improve the health of Indigenous Australians would be in maternal and newborn health. This area I believe has some of the biggest discrepancies between Indigenous and non-indigenous health despite having some very preventable health conditions which could greatly improve the lives of many Indigenous women and their children. My interest for maternal and newborn health was solidified when I was able to be in the room with my sister-in-law when she gave birth to my niece. During this experience I saw need for good health care professionals to be present and how they can stop things from going south quickly and therefore I understood how fortunate my niece was to be born in the city, but this just highlighted that there is many indigenous women who do not have access to the same care and support because they aren’t in the city.

I would also really aim to improve the education of indigenous women who are looking to get pregnant and how they can do small lifestyle changes do ensure the best of their child. These lifestyle changes could be something they stop doing or something they implement, something that is not their fault but due to the lack of education they are at a higher risk of things going wrong during their pregnancy. I believe these women and their children alongside their communities would be where I would improve the health of indigenous the most because I have a true passion and desire for all women to go through pregnancy with the best care so they can give their child the best start to life. The infant death rates of Indigenous Australians were two times greater than non-indigenous Australians which is not acceptable and therefore would want to spend my career reducing the infant deaths in the Indigenous community through both practical work in these communities as an obstetrician and as well through research and education tools.

Current Progressive Report

The previous semester, first of 2021, was a very exciting yet challenging one for me as it was my first semester of Medicine. It is my third year of being at the University of Western Australia but at times it felt like my first. This semester has been a lot longer than I was used to 18 weeks compared to 12 weeks which meant I had to ensure I played the endurance game especially when it came to the end of semester exams. The last 6 months at university has been a turning point in my academic path as it had a lot more of practical elements compared to the last two years that were content heavy, don’t get me wrong there was still a lot of content to make up 18 weeks. Every Friday morning we had clinical skills which quickly became my favourite class, as it did for many of my fellow peers, as it was 2 hours of close interaction with a small group of peers learning how to take examinations and ask clinical questions for history taking. This class was followed by a TBL (team based learning) most weeks which was made up of clinical cases which we had to work through in small groups. We would have to decided what we thought was the best course of action, or tests to do as well as what barriers could be faced during the time with the patient. At the end of these TBLs we were quizzed which made for great morale and cohesion of the small groups throughout the semester.

During the semester I made sure to not lose myself in study and get caught up with uni too much so I kept up my Pilates which I really love, I try to do it 4-6 times a week, and continued playing in my touch rugby team. The team I play in summer was for Division 1 Women’s at the Northern Districts touch competition on Friday nights, and I also helped play/coach our Division 5 men’s team which my Dad plays on. We got into the semi final in late January but unfortunately lost that, regardless it was a great season as many girls had joined our team and improved greatly and we are all looking forward to this summer and giving it our best shot to get the cup. I ensured that my faith did not fall to the background of my weekly schedule by making an effort to keep up my spiritual and church requirements. The semester would have been a lot harder and tiresome if it had not been for the support I received from my parents, siblings, boyfriend and friends. Each of them were willing to lend a hand when I needed, and were flexible with their time so I could continue to spend time with them as well as get my study done.

The semester was long and challenging but I kept St Francis of Assisi’s words in my mind. “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible”. This ensured I could tackle assignments and preparation for examinations without feeling too overwhelmed, and get the results I needed and that I was proud of.

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