Kaylarni Close
Kaylarni Close

Kaylarni Close

Indigenous Health Scholarship

James Cook University, QLD

Bachelor of Dental Surgery
Scholarship Awarded 2020 – 2022

Sponsored by:
Rotary Club of Cairns Trinity & Dr King Gan

Indigenous Health Scholarship Program

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

Coming from an Aboriginal background, I have seen first-hand the poorer oral health outcomes of family members. Maintaining oral health is often not held to a high priority in many of their lives, and ultimately comes down to a lack of education and role models, as well as mistrust of the healthcare system. This has greatly influenced me in pursue a career in healthcare, and cement my name in the industry as proud Quandamooka woman. After experience university clinical placements, I highly admire the extreme trust and commitment shared between the patient and the dentist. As a result, my biggest goal is to be an approachable and reliable dentist who will have a lasting effect within the community. To me, dentistry is so much more than just a quick ‘drill and fill’ approach; it encompasses many aspects of overall health and well-being. I want to better the general health among people from all backgrounds for a pain and disease-free future, and ultimately help people become independent in managing their health.

During my second year of study we travelled to local primary schools in Cairns region and delivered oral health education to those who were primarily of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander decent and from a low socioeconomic background. Nonetheless, at each lesson we were met with full enthusiasm and intent to learn oral health information. These children greatly inspired me and gave me hope that regardless of someone’s background and resources, everyone wants to better themselves and trying to make the smart choice in regards to their health. Once qualified, I would like to commit my time with organisations to improve the quality of life of those disadvantaged through empowerment. Back in my community on North Stradbroke Island, they lack dental healthcare services. I would like to deliver these crucial services and do my part in closing the gap.

In 2018, I acquired an invitation to work as a student ambassador at the 2018 JCU Winter School in Townsville. I was able to interact and promote oral health advice to Indigenous high school students, as well as an account of my journey to dentistry, and the options they have should they desire to continue onto tertiary education. It was rewarding to share knowledge and support the youth of today. Over the span of both my student life and career, I hope to be engaged in more programs aimed at promoting the health and well-being of Indigenous people, as well as encouraging more young Indigenous teen to take the leap and pursue a career as a medical practitioner or health care worker. Indigenous health care professionals are severely lacking, and I believe a great representation is the key to promoting health among Indigenous Australians.

Current Progressive Report

Semester 2 of 2021 was one of the busiest periods of my degree thus far. I was able to pass all of my written exams comfortably, as well as respond appropriately to practical scenarios. Our cohort also finished up our largest group project yet – completing a systematic review. Hours were spent reading research and journal articles, and composing all of the results into a presentation for dental academic members. On the clinical side, I was comfortably performing clinical treatments such as extractions, crown preparations, root canal treatments, and restorations.

Compared to our first day in clinic in 3rd year 2020, I had definitely progressed when it came to treating patients. I was able to build rapport and relationships with my patients who were very grateful for the services. Due to this being most of the cohort’s last year in Cairns, we ended the year with a celebration alongside other James Cook University Dental staff – including supervisors/dentists and dental assistants. Towards the end of the semester, I was also able to purchase a pair of dental loupes with funds I had accumulated from scholarships – and what a difference they have made! I am excited to use them routinely and help to alleviate both sight and ergonomic issues I had been having towards the end of semester.

Outside of university, I was able to travel to Toowoomba in October to attend my Brother-in-Law’s wedding – which had been postponed several times. Once class was complete for the year, I continued working as a casual lifeguard prior to and throughout the summer holidays. This time was spent in Cairns, until we traveled back home to Mackay to spend Christmas/New Years with both my partner and my family. At the time of writing this, I have just begun my final year placement at the Mackay Base Hospital. We will be seeing up to six patients per day, and will have our own dental assistants.

It already seems that we have a lot of autonomy to perform treatments, and I am keen to see how much more I can progress within the dental profession.

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