Karlie James
Karlie James

Karlie James

Indigenous Health Scholarship

Flinders University, NT

Bachelor of Medicine
Scholarship Awarded 2019 – 2022

Sponsored by:
Rotary Clubs of Darwin North

Indigenous Health Scholarship Program

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

I am a proud Yorta Yorta and Torres Strait Islander woman. I am a mother of four boys from ages 11 years to 8 months-old. I have a great passion to help my people and feel my lived experience will serve well as a medical professional. My goal to be a doctor stems from wanting to make a difference for my community’s health, my interest in science, and wanting to participate in the dynamic changes within medicine. My lived experience includes watching my elders pass away at a much younger age than the wider Australian population. My maternal and paternal grandparents were all affected by cancer and died far too young. The Indigenous community should not see this as normal. My family suffer from varying comorbidities including: hypertension, diabetes mellitus and respiratory diseases. I want to be a part of that change in Closing the Gap. I want to create safe spaces for my community’s health needs, especially within health education and promotion.

I have always worked within the community and feel my story has motivated other Indigenous people to achieve. Another motivator to become a doctor is my son Jacob. His tragic illness occurred two months after applying for medical school and in my final year of my undergraduate degree. Despite the diagnosis and subsequent challenges, I completed my degree and successfully gained entry into the Northern Territory Medical Program. I believe this demonstrates strength, resilience and passion to learn. I believe these attributes will aid in becoming an efficient doctor. Working alongside other Indigenous health workers, we can help increase culturally appropriate health service delivery with focus on promotion and prevention of diseases prevalent among our people.

I feel that there should be an intertwining of Traditional Indigenous medicines and Westernised Medicine. There is a holistic principle with Indigenous medicines that goes towards community care. To have knowledge of both will create an effective health service delivery. By completing a medical degree, I will help further educate within the Indigenous community. I straddle two worlds, that of my community and that of wider Australian society. As a doctor, I will be the diplomat between the two worlds, between western and traditional medicines. I understand the determinants of health and how low socioeconomics affects this, especially in rural and remote areas. It is my aspiration to increase awareness and education on the importance of keeping healthy to stay strong for Indigenous people.

I aim to be a positive role model and demonstrate that medicine or careers in health are possible. It is my role as an Indigenous woman to improve awareness in these areas. The flow on effect, creates educated Indigenous people leading to inter-generational changes in health care, essentially improving Indigenous health as a whole.

Current Progressive Report

I am pleased to provide this update on my progression this year. During semester one I completed my core components for MD4. This included my final exams and remote placement in Alice Springs on Arrernte country. These experiences helped me to develop further skills and be exposed to greater depths of medical learning. I had a wonderful time meeting patients from the surrounding communities and working with the specialist staff in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. I was involved in births and scrubbed into surgeries where I witnessed some rare conditions and procedures. It was an unreal time, and I was grateful to share in these special moments with the families. When I arrived in Alice Springs, I discovered my own family there, with my nephew and his partner from Victoria relocating a week before. They provided me with much needed support which I am immensely grateful for. It was difficult to be away from my children, but with their help I was able to use this time to focus on getting through the last written exams.

On my return to Darwin, I enjoyed the start of my vacation term travelling to my nanna’s country in Yarrabah, QLD. It was incredible to introduce my sons to some of their family and experience culture on country. It was just what we all needed and a fantastic way to start their school holidays. I am now in term 6 with placement in general medicine. With only 2 more terms following, the finish line is so close. I look forward to using the next few placements to prepare for internship next year.

As always, thank you so much to Rotary Club, for your continued support. The assistance greatly helps to study full time whilst raising my young family.

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