Rural Medical Student's Top End Experience

Jasraaj Singh is a final year medical student at the Rural Clinical School in Ballarat and President of the Outlook Student Club who recently embarked on a life-changing trip to the Top End. Through the High School to Health Careers Program (HSHCP) by Northern Territory Primary Health Network, Jas delivered health education workshops, providing positive examples to high school students to pursue a career in health. Through this program, Jas helped to encourage students in remote areas to remain at school and attain the best possible education. This is her experience...

Nitmulik Upper Pool

Nitmulik Upper Pool

"My 2022 NT Primary Health Network (NTPHN) High School to Health Careers Program (HSCP) experience was a unique, insightful and adventure-filled week that I will never forget! Before launching into the program itself I'd like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the waterways and lands on which we stayed and traveled through to deliver health education workshops to high school students in the Top End and experience life in the territory as health professionals. Thank you for allowing us safe passage as we treaded carefully on your country in Nitmiluk, Barunga and Larrakia land. I would also like to pay my respects to Elders, past, present and emerging ❤️💛🖤

The 2022 HSHCP team selected comprised of 2 medical students, 3 nursing students and 1 speech pathology student - Anna Ryan, myself, Jordan Hutchinson, Adam Anderson, Lizzie Honeybone and Courtney Alicia. Throughout the weeks leading up to our trip we met up regularly to touch base and plan our health education workshops for high school students in the Top End.

Our awesome 2022 NTPHN HSHCP team! Our awesome 2022 NTPHN HSHCP team at camp

Our awesome 2022 NTPHN HSHCP team!

In mid-August we set off from our respective home towns or places of study, ranging from Gold Coast in Queensland to Bendigo in Victoria to Wagga in New South Wales to Collie in Western Australia, up to the Top End of the Northern Territory. We touched down in Darwin and were greeted by our awesome coordinator and team leader Lexie 'Boss' Vazey.

From Darwin our team set off on a 4-hour adventure to Barunga to experience the 2022 Barunga Festival. This annual festival showcases First Nations culture and took place from Friday 12 August to Sunday 14 August. Spanning 3 days, thousands of people from across the world descended upon the small remote community of Barunga to take part in a program of music, sport, traditional arts and cultural activities.

Attending this festival was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the culture of Jawoyn People (Traditional Owners over a large area of the Top End) as well as that of the Yolngu People (Traditional Owners of East Arnhem Land). We observed traditional dances and songs, learnt about bush foods and medicine, and experienced life in a remote community through camping underneath the stars and having a guided tour through the community by local students. The Barunga Festival highlighted the strength, resilience and richness of culture of our First Nations People and the significant knowledge of the lands, bush foods and bush medicines that we should all strive to learn more about.

The second half of our trip focussed on delivering hands-on workshops promoting health careers to high school students. Some of the schools that were involved included Katherine High School, Casuarina Senior College and St Joseph's Catholic College. We ran a series of stations showcasing our different fields including:

  • Stitch Up - A suturing station involving the students learning about wound management
    and how to do a simple uninterrupted suture and knot tying
  • Spot the Fracture - A radiology station teaching students how to read x-rays to diagnose
    fractures and other bony pathologies
  • Quick, help! - A first aid station focusing on snake bite and fracture first aid
  • Scoping out the Steth - A station revolving around how to use a stethoscope to listen to
    heart sounds, chest sounds and bowel sounds
  • Speaking of Speech Path - A station teaching students about speech pathology and the
    use of fluid thickeners to help patients with dysphagia

A massive shout out to Lexie and our awesome NTPHN HSHCP family for such an incredibly rewarding trip that highlighted the benefits and challenges of working in the Territory. From working with remote Aboriginal communities to beautiful landscapes to warm weather, the Top End is honestly the place to be! After this trip, I’m definitely looking forward to working in the Northern Territory in the years to come.

Stunning landscapes across Larrakia Land Stunning landscapes across Larrakia Land

Stunning landscapes across Larrakia Land

If you’re a student currently pursuing a career in health, the NTPHN High School to Health Careers Program (HSHCP) is a great way to experience the NT and explore opportunities in healthcare you never thought were possible. This program gives university students studying a health discipline the unique opportunity to:

  • Visit medical clinics and learn from health professionals and their experience working rurally and remotely
  • Visit high schools in the Top End and deliver hands-on workshops that promote health careers and inspire students to become the next generation of health professionals
  • Attend the Barunga Festival or the National Nursing Forum
  • Encourage high school students in rural and remote areas to stay at school and attain the best possible education
  • Promote healthy lifestyles and healthy choices to high school students
  • Learn more about the multidisciplinary aspect of health careers

Keep an eye out for 2023 applications here!"

Written by Jasraaj Singh

Jasraaj Singh is a final year medical student at the Rural Clinical School in Ballarat and President of the Outlook Student Club. Jas is passionate about rural health and has accepted an internship at Cairns Hospital for 2023.

Outlook is the Rural Health Club for the University of Melbourne, forming part of a network of 28 University Rural Health Clubs around the country that make up the National Rural Health Student Network (NRHSN). Outlook is an entirely student run organisation and works to deliver events, initiatives and activities that expose members to the many rewards and challenges of rural healthcare and Indigenous healthcare. They work to foster a community of students passionate about delivering healthcare to underserved regions of Australia, and promote rural, remote and Indigenous healthcare as a viable, challenging and extremely rewarding career path.

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