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17th Aug

2016

As a first year student, I was awarded a John Flynn Placement Program scholarship which would give me the opportunity to visit a remote Aboriginal community throughout the course of my time at Sydney Medical School. As a Stage 3 student, I was able to choose where I wanted to spend my elective placement. In order to both complete the John Flynn program and incorporate remote and Aboriginal health into my elective, with the help of the Nepean Medical Association I combined the two and spent four weeks in Nganmarriyanga, or Palumpa (named after the cattle station) as it’s more commonly known. This was my third trip out to community, and having been twice before I was recognised and welcomed back. I was lucky to have enthusiastic remote area nurses staffing the clinic who made it so easy to settle into work and rekindle friendships in the community.

My work involved doing adult and children’s health checks including taking blood tests and giving vaccinations, visits to the nearby outstations to perform similar checks and deliver medications, maintain the de-worming and iron supplement schedule for the children with low haemoglobin levels, sitting in with the visiting GP and GP registrar once a week for cases that required a doctor’s review, and seeing anything that presented itself in between as the clinic functions as the community’s emergency room as well. The remote area nurses follow the CARPA (Central Australian Rural Practitioner’s Association Inc.) Manuals which is a series of books eg. Women’s Business Manual, Clinical Procedures Manual etc. composed of guidelines designed to allow the nurses to see common presentations with limited prescribing rights, working to provide limited care between the doctor’s visits. These manuals were also great for me, as I could clearly see how logically NT Health would want me to perform a consultation.

I received a lot of support and was invited to do things under supervision that I simply would not have had the opportunity to do otherwise. Living in an Aboriginal community has also given me great insight into the complicating factors in both Aboriginal health and remote living, which has only strengthened my interest in rural and remote healthcare. This has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life and has awarded me knowledge and skills that I could not have gained otherwise. I am very grateful to the Nepean Medical Association and the John Flynn Placement Program for supporting me in this placement, it has contributed invaluably to my medical training and has given me experiences and memories I will not forget.

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