Indigenous Health Scholarship 2019

University of New South Wales, NSW
Bachelor of Medicine
Scholarship Awarded 2019
Sponsored by:
Rotary Club of Sydney Inner West

University of Sydney, NSW
Master of Public Health
Scholarship Awarded 2018
Sponsored by:

Rotary Club of Sydney Inner West

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

I plan on spending most of my efforts as a future Public Health (PH) Physician by taking interventions that are seen to be effective in research and practically translating these interventions into communities in a culturally safe manner. At my time at the Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS), I was advised by an Indigenous GP that Aboriginal Australians are some of the most researched people on the planet, however the direct benefit of this research back into community still goes astray. Thus, having connections with Australian Indigenous Doctors Association, Leaders in Indigenous Medical Education, Menzies School of Health Research, as well as other Indigenous Australian health workers, as a PH Physician I can help make this a reality.

I have had a taste into how PH can help produce positive impact to a community during my John Flynn Placements at the Dubbo AMS, particularly in the perspective of community engagement and implementing practice interventions to promote a self-sufficient economic model. In having my mentor, Denise Thomas (GP locum) heavily involved in Public Health, it’s made my passions seem like a realistic future. Interestingly, I am currently in the process in researching the underlying reasons of missed appointments at the Dubbo AMS, to help produce clarity to the topic.

I cannot neglect to mention my passions for Indigenous health in the context to both chronic illnesses and cancer. Relevantly, I believe the effects of the Stolen Generation are far from being effectively addressed. In looking at high quality research involved with connecting high traumatic experiences from Indigenous peoples to specific health burden outcomes from countries such as Canada, New Zealand and the United States, I believe Australia has a long way to go. I also believe, particularly after attending the World Indigenous Cancer Conference (WICC), that cancer is a highly under-addressed field in the Australian Indigenous context. When hearing about the similar health disparities that Indigenous peoples of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and United States share in comparison to their non-Indigenous counterpart, it is difficult to turn a blind eye! After my own experiences with cancer, I am somewhat emotionally invested more so than the average budding medical student. Thus, I plan on undergoing translational research in this area, particularly involving Indigenous cancer survivors.

In saying this, this is not the only thing I wish to achieve in my life. I am also passionate about refugee health and the role of cultural diversity in a Westernised medical system, thus splaying from Indigenous health.

Current Progressive Report

What a year it was!

I had the pleasure of completing my Master of Public Health at the University of Sydney in 2018. I consistently worked hard at my assessments, readings and learning, which is reflected in the distinction average I was able to achieve.

The year consisted of various disciplines, from statistics to qualitative analysis, from ethics to policy evaluation, and from Indigenous health promotion to general disease prevention in the community. I had the chance to meet like-minded people, to learn from professionals in the field, and also work on a systematic review regarding the reduction of the over-consumption of sugar-based beverages in Indigenous Australian communities.

I’ve always struggled with statistics, so I naturally threw myself into the field. I utilised most of my electives learning multiple linear regression, categorical analyses and survival-based analyses. Which essentially means: I learnt a whole lot about how health professionals can infer particular diseases and risk factors in different methods given particular types of collated information. This was incredibly rewarding to me, as I plan on integrating research into my
future work as a Public Health physician.

The best thing for me in 2018, was coming away from the masters knowing that I’ve chosen something I’m really passionate in. I know now that I want to specialise in Public Health after my medical degree. This is going to help me shape which electives I wish to complete, help shape what hospital I should do my internship and residency in, and also help shape some long-term goals I want to achieve. Undergoing the masters is a compulsory element in getting onto the Public Health physician program.

I am extremely grateful of being awarded the Australian Rotary Health Indigenous bursary as it gave me much needed financial aid. There is very little time for work outside university, making this very hard at times. Thus, with this bursary I was able to buy all of my essential textbooks and help buy a laptop for my studies. My laptop actually decided to internally combust at the beginning of the year, making studying extremely difficult. So, I am very grateful I was given this aid to make this issue into a not-so-issue.

I’ve just started my fifth year of medicine at the University of NSW, starting off with the general practice term. I essentially have two more years of medicine to complete, and I’ll be a budding star-eyed intern wanting to make a difference in Indigenous Health.