Sofie Gilmartin
Sofie Gilmartin

Sophie Gilmartin

Indigenous Health Scholarship 2023

University of Western Australia, WA

Doctor of Medicine
Scholarship Awarded 2023

Sponsored by:
Rotary Club of Scarborough

Indigenous Health Scholarship Program

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

As humans we long for love, nurture, compassion, connectedness and empathy. These desires cannot always be met by our close family, friends and community thus I will find it my purpose to heal those with the knowledge I have gained through the University of Western Australia, whilst also giving my patients the holistic care they deserve. My education will positively impact both my community and the wider world, as I give back my knowledge and serve others in need.

I will be completing my seven years of study at the University of Western Australia where my aspiration is once I have finished my medicine degree, I will specialise in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (OBGYN). OBGYN is a specialised field which will always be needed as women and babies will forever continue to need their aid in primary prevention strategies, labour, birth and beyond. OBGYN is also a profession in which I can travel with and is thus more diverse. By specialising in this area of medicine, I will be able to achieve my dream of relocating to the Kimberly and helping the women with their health and the health of their babies. My education through UWA and my dream of specialising in Obstetrics and Gynaecology will allow me to further provide women with the care they require during this delicate time in their life.

One of my ATAR subjects was Health, which equipped me with the understanding on the inequities Indigenous people face which negatively affect their health and the health of their families. Being Indigenous, and having spent time as a child in the Kimberly I have a desire to return back to these humble people and be of their service where ever I can. I would especially like to care for Indigenous women and their babies through being a support network for them and encouraging them to return to living naturally off the land, to equip their children with the best chance to thrive in this rapidly changing environment. Antenatal care is imperative for the physical health and emotional wellbeing of the mother which directly affects her unborn baby. Like everything prevention is better than a cure which ultimately starts with healthy antenatal care to reduce the risk of increasing chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity and mental health condition. I strongly believe that specialising in OBGYN will allow me to positively impact and improve the health status of Indigenous women, their children and wider community.

Later on in my career, I will join the Médecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) program to help those in developing countries improve their health status. I believe this international humanitarian medical non-government organisation is a fantastic program whereby doctors have the opportunity to reduce endemic diseases associated with the country. By being able to go to UWA, I will be equipped with the best knowledge so that I have the skills to give these people the care they rightly deserve. Again, women in developing countries need all the assistance they can get to ensure that their children have the best possible chance to live their best possible life. The best ways to reduce global barriers to health like poverty starts with the early life of a child and a strong and healthy pregnancy, as these children are better equipped to stay at school and gainful employment. By studying medicine and OBGYN, I will be able to give these women my care, compassion and knowledge to ensure that they have the best antenatal, intrapartum, post-natal care to assist in the reduction of global barriers to health, thus improving not only their family’s health but also promoting economic prosperity in their country.

Ultimately, my caring, kind and compassionate nature fuels my desire to help others. I believe, studying medicine and specialising in Obstetrics and Gynaecology will allow me to positively support the families, women and children to ensure they have the best start to life.  OBGYN will also give me the opportunity to travel and succour those in both in rural, remote Australia and developing countries. The University of Western Australia will provide me with the foundation of my knowledge, which will positively impact both my local community and wider world, for the humanitarian benefit of all people.

Current Progress Report

To begin I would like to thank you for your amazing scholarship.   It has enabled me to focus more on my studies through easing the financial burden of living away from home.

My second year of university has been much better than my first.   Overall, I did better n my studies and as a result manged to achieve a High Distinction in my Public Health Unit.  Due to this I was selected to represent UWA on a public health field trip to Nepal for two weeks where we are departing on the 30th  August.   On this field trip we will be working alongside the World Health Organisation to improve water and sanitation in villages to help reduce cholera.

My other unites were also very interesting.   In human biology, we learnt about the development of the human body starting from an embryo and in immunology we learnt about the beginnings of the immune system.  I am also excited for my units this semester as we are doing more reproductive anatomy in human biology and learning more about infectious diseases in immunology.

I am also involved in many extra-curricular activities outside of university which include: footy, water polo, surfing and catching up with many friends.  My footy team have done very well and ware are playing semi-finals.  Along with this I also have a job at Kin Edwards memorial Hospital where my role is to work on the Aboriginal Neonatal Follow-Up Program where I track the development of Aboriginal premature babies to ensure they are reaching their developmental milestones.

I very much appreciate all the support Rotary and this scholarship have offered me.   My university life would not be this enjoyable if I had extra financial burdens to deal with.

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