Kahlie Lockyer
Kahlie Lockyer

Kahlie Lockyer

Indigenous Health Scholarship 2023

University of Western Australia, WA

Doctor of Medicine
Scholarship Awarded 2023

Sponsored by:
Lee Tyrrell

Indigenous Health Scholarship Program

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

As a child I was immersed in health education, either through family and community and in school. I was exposed to Aboriginal health travelling into remote Pilbara Western Desert communities with my mother, a nurse and educator, assisting her acting as a patient model in Senior First Aid and health courses. This planted a seed for me to work in health with Aboriginal communities.

Once I have completed Doctor of Medicine I plan to specialise in Paediatrics and work with Aboriginal children, their families and communities. Having Aboriginal representation in children’s health should make children and families feel culturally safe and not feel alienated as Aboriginal patients. Additionally, using my lived experience and knowledge of the barriers that my children and I faced and how we overcome this may help develop strategies and programmes to reduce discrimination and address access and inequity.

Qualifications in Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing gives an overarching view to social, emotional, and mental health of Aboriginal people; embedding a holistic approach to underpinning social health determinants to provide access and equity and empower health literacy in children and families. I plan to undertake research and integrate art therapy and Stolen Generations family anecdotes to underpin any research questions. My interest in research is to continue learning and seeking evidence-based answers and I hope to contribute towards one or more research projects at UWA.

I use my art practice to tell stories about the importance of Aboriginal health and wellbeing in a holistic approach bringing together human biology and anatomy with Aboriginal culture and landscapes depicting Aboriginal health and well-being, connection to country and how that connection is imperative to Aboriginal health. This informative approach to medical and health education ultimately, depicts how Country is more than the land, it is our health. With my health qualifications art and mentoring skills, I am equipped to develop and teach art, culture and healing and advocate for our communities in areas like mental health and suicide prevention to enrich our culture as healing.

Overall, I strive to make meaningful contributions to the Closing the Gap national socio-economic targets within my families, schools and community by continuing to develop community engagement and health promotion initiatives activities to address social economic disparities.

Current Progress Report

The start of MD2 encompassed 10 weeks covering the musculoskeletal system and neurology, followed by 5 weeks of clinical preparation. In clinical preparation we attended hand hygiene, asepsis technique and cannulation workshops as well as tutorials that delved into how to think clinically when on placement. The clinical skills learnt in the first 10 weeks became very helpful when I started my placements as I had a chance to practice these skills.

My first placement rotation was in Internal Medicine where I spent 6 weeks on a cardiology ward. The very first day I had the pleasure of delivering a cardioversion to reset the rhythm of a patient’s heart, it was very exhilarating to oversee all the other staff in the room and call out what I was doing to make sure everyone stood clear. I learnt to read electrocardiograms, and chest x-rays. I learnt first line therapies for different heart diseases and improved on my medical interviewing skills through talking with many different patients. I learnt how to present cases and discuss cases with the consultant and increase my confidence.

I met a few Aboriginal patients on the cardiology ward and when they’d see me on the ward rounds, I was greeted with warmth and a big smile. After the ward rounds would finish, I was able to spend time sitting and having a yarn with a few of them.

There was one young man I will never forget. We were on ward rounds; I could feel how this young man had a lot more going on than what the doctors could see. I went back to speak with him and asked if he has any life stressors impacting on him. He looked up, saw my face, and burst into tears. He called me sis and told me what was going on for him, although his story broke my own heart, I was able to be the one person on the ward that my people could trust to talk with. I was able to get him further help that may have been ignored if I wasn’t there that day. This experience has taught me that even now whilst I am still training to be a doctor, I can start to make a small difference already.

I then started my second rotation on a geriatric’s rehabilitation ward. This was a very different experience for me. I learnt about how a multidisciplinary team works and the specifics of each team members role and how discharge planning is prepared in the case of a geriatric patient.

I also spent a week in a rheumatology clinic during the geriatric’s rotation. Here I learnt about the more common autoimmune diseases, signs, and treatments. I also learnt how to perform a hand examination related to rheumatology.

Throughout the year I have also spent time at a General Practitioners clinic. I was given the opportunity to perform my first assisted venepuncture procedure, the supervising doctor was very impressed that on my first turn I did not make any mistakes inserting the needle into the vein.

So far, this year has taught me a lot of skills and knowledge I’ll need in my future career, however being able to think clinically is by far the most I’ve achieved this year. Starting from a presenting complaint to be able to have the ability to obtain more information from the patient in relation to what may be the problem, to then use this knowledge to find differential diagnosis’ and decide what may need to be investigated further for a diagnosis.

It has been a challenging year so far with juggling placements and the single mum life however I am still enjoying it.

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