Indigenous Health Scholarship 2022
University of Western Australia, WA
Doctor of Medicine
Scholarship Awarded 2020
Lindsay Cozens Aboriginal Education Trust
How will I contribute to improving Indigenous health as a qualified medical practitioner or health worker?
Indigenous health has always been something I have been incredibly passionate about. Growing up in Broome, a rural community in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, I have long been witness to the ongoing disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health and well being outcomes.
In mid 2019, I graduated from my undergraduate degree in Population Health, and Aboriginal Health and Well-being, and was facing a six month period off of study before starting the Doctor of Medicine course in 2020. I wanted to put my degree to use during this time, and being working at the peak body of Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS) in my state as a policy officer, where I did extensive advocacy for Indigenous Health and our AMS’s. I was able to contribute to the planning, development, implementation and evaluation of various Indigenous health policies and programs both on a state-wide and national basis. It was incredibly empowering to be involved in many of the decision-making processes of national and state policy agendas and frameworks that impact on the health and well-being of my people.
Becoming a doctor has always been something I have dreamed of, but it was never something that I thought could be a reality. While m undergraduate studies have built my understanding of Indigenous health, I have always known that I want to do more and have a direct impact on health, and that my learning is only just beginning. Starting the Doctor of Medicine course this year, I feel incredibly privileged to have this opportunity, and I am so excited to continue on this journey.
As a qualified medical doctor, I would like to gain as much knowledge and experience in the health industry, before eventually returning to my community and supporting Indigenous people particularly those in rural and remote regions that often experience difficulties in receiving access to comprehensive, and culturally safe and secure health care. As a qualified medical doctor, I want to do more than just contribute towards helping Indigenous patients when they are sick. My backgrounds in Population Health and Aboriginal Health and Well-being, have built my understanding of treating the patient, rather than just treating the illness -which is so fundamental in a holistic approach t health care. I want to support Aboriginal people and improve their social determinants that often contribute towards ill-health and lead to continued presentations with a doctor.
I rally believe that building a workforce of Indigenous doctors will improve Indigenous health outcomes, as we have this built in knowledge and understanding of the cultural needs and requirements of a patient, and are able to connect with them in a way non-Indigenous doctors are not able to. I believe that with an empowered generations of Indigenous medical practitioners, we can really bridge the existing gaps contributing to poor health, and improve Indigenous health for the better. I am so excited and determined for the years ahead, and I can not wait to progress through on this journey.
Current Progressive Report
2022 has been a bit different for me, and alike most years has come with its highs and lows. This year has allowed me to really focus on the balance between my academic studies and my mental health. It has allowed me to upskill in particular subsets of medicine and home in on areas that I have not studied prior to medicine.
I feel that doctors and medical students can often neglect their own mental health struggles. Prioritising my own health and well-being can be challenging as is, and the stressors of medicine can often compound this exponentially. I have really worked this past semester on allowing myself to place an importance on my mental health and working on this so I can not only be a better student, but a better person.
I’ve been very fortunate to have the support of some wonderful peers, who have had similar journeys both to and in medicine with me. Med school can be incredibly hard, but having the support of other Indigenous medical students at every step has been a very important part of my journey.
Rotary Health’s support has been paramount in helping my studies. There are many new stressors in medical school and living away from home to pursue my studies. The support from Rotary has significantly helped reduce some of these stressors, and has alleviated some of the ongoing hardships that come with studying. Having the capacity to focus on my studies is invaluable, and I’m really grateful to Rotary Health for allowing this to happen.
Each experience that I go through in medical school only reassures me how wonderful the health sector is, and how much I want to contribute towards helping others, particularly other young Aboriginal people.