Coming from a largely populated region of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with chronic health conditions and a 10-year gap of life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. I have always been passionate about working in the health field and found that nursing was for me. I have experienced this firsthand wit my immediate family members suffering from diabetes, obesity, heart and lung disease just to name a few. I believe being a nurse will fulfill my career and life goals by helping make a difference within my community – Torres Strait Islanders. A nurse’s beliefs and values should be focused on being honest by showing integrity, being compassionate and being empathetic just to name a few that I think are crucial in nursing care. Being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander growing up on Thursday Island in the Torres Straits has played a very important part in my life and will play a big part in my nursing career.
The ongoing interactions with my family and the community have taught me to embrace my culture, customs, traditions and values. Furthermore, my life experiences will make me a better nurse because I can help the Indigenous people by communicating with them appropriately, knowing cultural protocols were required and providing my perspective of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. whilst there is an improvement in the community health support sector there is still a minimal number of qualified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands holding key positions in clinical research and technical fields of health. My goal after studying is to be registered nurse and to move back to my hometown; Thursday Island in the Torres Straits to work full time and to give back to my community. By doing this I will help make a difference even if it is big or small in closing the gap.
During the Christmas break, I was able to gain employment with Queensland Health as an Administration Officer and COVID-19 Screening Officer from December 2021 to February 2022. Being front line has opened my eyes to the responsibilities and stress of working in the health area. The first COVID-19 cases started in December 2021 at Thursday Island and have been increasing since. I have had to incorporate my knowledge learned for my first year of study to use hand hygiene, persona protective equipment and disinfect all surfaces after each patient that is coming i for appointments with the doctors and nurses. I always kept my area tidy and clean as there were vulnerable and immuno-compromised patients coming in for appointments. All the nurses and doctors were very helpful and friendly and had a good working environment that I am looking forward to working in, the future after my degree and becoming a Registered Nurse.
I had three subjects for semester 1, 2022.
*Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
I learnt about:
- Health Statistics and Gap between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people
- History of the Torres Strait
- ATSI Acts to protect the land
- Climate change impacts
*Foundation of Nursing Practice Theory
I learnt about:
- Vital Signs
- PPE & Hand hygiene
- Basic wound care how to clean wound
- Pressure area prevention
- How to use manual handling machines
*Foundation of Nursing Practice
Went on my placement and learnt about:
- I got to put into action the above in the theory part
- Shadow Assistant in Nursing workers and help with cares; shower, feeding, changing, and engaging in therapeutic conversations with residents.
- Shadow Registered Nurses and watch them prepare medication (Crushing and/or putting into in juices and/or foods), assess wounds, fill out documentation and making sure they have good time management with medications as there was a lot of residents to go through.
I learnt more about my history being an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descendant, as I was studying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. It was really interesting for me as it showed the gap between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people statistically and how we as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are disadvantaged, and additionally more being remote.
As a young person from Thursday Island, you hear about “Closing the Gap” but your really do not understand or am able to relate to the importance of government and government policies that impact on us as First Nations people. I found that I related the “Closing the Gap” studies to what this scholarship is doing for me as a university student. This scholarship is closing the gap for me as a student with limited money resources. I feel from this subject it has opened my understanding realistically about my choice in study, being in nursing and making a difference to myself, family and community.
Climate change impacts was another area that was relatable. I was born and have lived my life in the Torres Straits and from this living experience of depending on our waters and land for food, transport and livelihood was able to relate to and write about this as it is a very passionate area for me.
The foundation of Nursing Practice Theory was challenging but I feel it provided me with the theory that can be applied to my field and employment pathway in the future. This subject also prepared me for my placement, which was the Foundation of Nursing Practice.
As part of the Nursing Practice, I went on my first placement at an Aged Care facility in Dalby I found it different as you are caring for older residents 24/7 in a place, they call home. I did gain a lot of knowledge from the Assistant in Nursing workers and the Registered Nurses showing me how the cares are done, basic wound dressing and when/how to prepare medication before giving it to the residents. I also found that working in an Aged Care environment was not for me but later in life I would consider working in an Aged Care Facility as I will have more experiences and I can give back to those who are most vulnerable.
During semester one of 2022 I have found my subjects easier to study and digest the content provided to us. I have settled into the University studying which was a tough transition, my first year at university study and method of studying, online because of COVID was very challenging.
Some of the learnings that I took away from my first-year study is to make a plan for my studies, to ensure that the effort I put in would reward me in my results obtained. My plan included submitting my assessments on time, which was my number one priority, as I was submitting it late last year and getting marks deducted. This year I have challenged myself to start the assessments early to submit them on time rather than not being prepared and giving myself enough time therefore rushing and putting stress on myself.
I am thankful for this scholarship as it has really assisted me financially to pay for various things directly related to my studying away from home. Having the financial pressure taken away enables me to focus on my studies and the experience I have gained will help me fulfill my passion to be a nurse.