Shondell Hayden
Shondell Hayden

Shondell Hayden

Indigenous Health Scholarship 2022

University of Western Australia, WA

Doctor of Medicine
Scholarship Awarded 2020

Sponsored by:
Rotary Club of Swan

Indigenous Health Scholarship Program

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

Through my work in 2019 as a research officer with UWA working on two Aboriginal health projects related to ageing and the brain, I met many Elders from the Perth Indigenous community who have expressed the need for more Indigenous doctors with more cultural understanding/sensitivity. Many doctors from non-Indigenous backgrounds sometimes lack the knowledge of how an Indigenous family and lifestyle is structured, and do not quite understand the values and needs of an Aboriginal person or community. I would like to contribute to the community by providing safe and supportive care that is culturally appropriate and understanding, whilst also educating other health professionals on how they can be most appropriate as well. This would ensure that the whole Aboriginal community is receiving the best care from any doctor that they see, and that they do not have to rely on seeing only Indigenous doctors.

I would love the opportunity to further my involvement in Indigenous health as a doctor, especially with the ageing population. One of the projects I have been assisting on this past ear is a dementia prevention project for Aboriginals in Perth called DAMPAA (Dementia Prevention and Risk Management Program for Aboriginal Australians), which I am very passionate about especially after watching my pop develop dementia in his later years. One in 10 Aboriginal Australians over the age of 45 are said to have dementia, which is a prevalence much higher than the non-Indigenous population, and the effects are being felt widely throughout the Aboriginal community.

Not only would I want to continue my work with the older Indigenous community as a qualified health professional, but I would love to further involve myself in the Indigenous community as a whole. With many chronic lifestyle-related illnesses so commonplace in the Indigenous population I would want to contribute to reducing these and improving the overall health of communities. This could be through screening and clinics as well as education, which is a major contributing factor to the ill-health of many people, especially in remote areas.

Current Progressive Report

It has been a hectic year so far! I moved down to Esperance in January to start Rural Clinical School (RCS) and have been non-stop ever since. I am absolutely loving it down here – it’s a beautiful place with beautiful people and I’ve been learning so much.

I’ll be here until the end of the year, and then return to Perth for my final year. Won’t be happy to leave such a beautiful spot!

It has been a bit of an adjustment doing prac down here – there’s four of us medical students living together, and we rotate through the hospital and the four GP practices rather than doing rotations in set disciplines like last year. We have a curriculum of content to cover throughout the year and get tutorials with our coordinators who are local doctors here in town, and we are seeing a real wide variety of cases in the hospital and GP. We also all do an ED shift each week where I think we see the most interesting cases.

Our assessments this year are very much more practical based, and we do a lot of clinical assessments on patients that the local doctors assess us on. I’m enjoying this change of pace a lot, but it can be difficult to know what we need to focus on for our end of year written exams, especially when we are taught in such a different way compared to the metro students.

Esperance has been such a lovely spot to be this year – I had never been here before this, so it’s been such a fun experience! Although lately it’s been a bit too cold to swim, the beaches are stunning and I love living so close by again like when I was Exmouth. I’m just waiting for the weather to warm up again so I can get back out in the water! Other than keeping busy with prac I’ve joined one of the local footy clubs (Gibson) and started playing my first real season of footy! It’s been such great fun and we are undefeated so far – hoping to keep that going all season!!

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