Oceania Henry
Oceania Henry

Oceania Henry

Indigenous Health Scholarship

University of Deakin, VIC

Scholarship Awarded 2016 – 2022

Sponsored by:
Rotary Club of Glen Waverley/Dr K Gan

Indigenous Health Scholarship Program

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

When I successfully complete my medical studies, I plan to bring benefit to my community in numerous ways. Firstly, I hope to be a role model to other Indigenous students, where despite disadvantage and being told your dreams are unrealistic, hard work and determination will get you there if you truly put your mind to it. Once I am a doctor, regardless of the field I end up choosing, I plan to practise in rural and regional areas of Victoria and I would love to head back to the Gunditjmara country, which is my community. As a teenager who spent a lot of their time unwell and in hospital, I was tired of having to travel to receive the care I needed. People should never be disadvantaged because of where their home is, and I want to offer exceptional healthcare and expertise in these areas.

I love clinical medicine, but I also think preventative medicine is just as important. I do not think we should wait until people get sick before they are treated. It places a huge burden on the healthcare system, and the lives of those affected. There are more ways to improve health than just diagnosis, treatment and cure. If we just invest a bit more into education now, it would have a huge difference int he health of all Australians, especially the Indigenous community. A focus here would benefit greatly in the long term. There should not be a gap between our health and education, and I am determined to do what I can to help close it.

Current Progressive Report

It is hard to believe that after just shy of 7 years of back to back University, and 5 years of giving up my school high holidays to do academic enrichment programs, that I am 8 weeks away from (hopefully) becoming a doctor. It has been a roller-coaster of a ride. There have been some incredible highs and some overwhelming lows, but with a lot of hard work and even more support, the dream that started with the goal to improve inpatient experiences in hospital, and for there to be a greater focus on patient-centred care, is well on it’s way of coming true.

Over the past 6 months, I have done rotations in aged care, palliative care and rehabilitation, General Practice, Anaesthetics + ICU and I am about to finish up in ED. All I have after this is Mental health and then exams. The combination of having a bit of a confidence boost after getting through last year that challenged me in a way I never could have predicted, and also the rotations I have had the privilege of experiencing, has made for this year to be the best of my course. I did my palliative care placement out in Hamilton, and there is something incredibly beautiful and honouring to be able to support patient and families in a final chapter of this lifetime. I was lucky enough to go to an incredible GP clinic that I felt really valued at and got to learn from some of the best in the field! The way they treated their patients and how they interacted, is something that I certainly hope to mirror. Anaesthetics is an area that I’ve always bee particularly interested in, because how I’ve been treated right before a surgery, always set the tone of my own experiences in a hospital, and I would like to pay that forward to another generation. While in ED, I’ve really felt like an almost doctor, as the staff really push me out of my comfort zone, which has built my confidence and skills. I’m excited to see what I will learn in mental health, because while I don’t see myself becoming a psychiatrist, it’s an area that I value and think his extremely important, especially since COVID-19.

I recently found out that I will beginning my working medical career at Barwon Health. While I had initially hoped to return service to my own local community, I am very excited for this learning opportunity, and to continue to build my confidence and skills in Geelong. Barwon’s critical care program comes highly recommended, and they also have opportunities to rotate to more regional areas such as Warrnambool and Hamilton as an intern. I am both excited and nervous about this new adventure I am about to begin, and the changes that go with it, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Outside of the hospital, I was recently lucky enough to be supported by Deakin University to attend the 2022 Pacific Regions Indigenous Doctors Congress (PRIDoC) in Vancouver). PRIDoC brings together Indigenous medical practitioners, students and health professionals from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States of America, Hawaii, Taiwan and across the Pacific, to learn from each other, to stimulate research and to work together toward more culturally competent and efficient health services. Indigenous health doesn’t always look the same in other parts of the world, but getting other insight into issue and ways to achieve change was incredible. This eye-opening experience will be one that I will never forget, and I have made lifelong connections with other indigenous doctors all over the world.

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