Ryan Pieters

Indigenous Health Scholarship 2018

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.

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