Medical Placement in Katherine

Student Reflection

Course: 

Doctor of Medicine

Placement Location:

Katherine, NT

Year of Placement:

2022

Having lived and worked in rural Victoria for the majority of my life, and completed the entirety of my medical degree in rural Victoria, I have witnessed first hand the disadvantage that rural and remote Australians experience when engaging with healthcare. These experiences have shaped who I am, and have inspired a passion for rural, remote and First Nations health, which have been the driving factor to pursuing a medical career in the Northern Territory. My 6-week rotation in the Katherine District Hospital ED presented the perfect culmination to my medical degree and invaluable preparation for my internship in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek in 2023.

Katherine Hospital, and the surrounding community proved to be an invaluable learning experience in my continued education in First Nations health and cross-cultural care. I engaged thoughtfully, respectfully and with an open mind throughout my placement, through attendance at cultural workshops, engagement with experienced practitioners, and cultural immersion within the local community. These unique experiences continued to challenge my views on Western dominated medical frameworks and enabled me to better understand the beliefs and practices of First Nations peoples in the Katherine region.

The strength and resilience of the Aboriginal communities in the region was highlighted to me continuously throughout my placement. Despite numerous disadvantages stemming from colonisation, intergenerational trauma and ongoing discrimination, people remained strong, positive and supportive. The attention to these challenges from healthcare workers, be it stable housing, employment, safety or otherwise was another important lesson, demonstrating that being a clinician is more than just treating the physical illness.

 

Placement in a resource limited setting like Katherine was eye-opening. The absence of readily available tests and imaging I’d become accustomed to encouraged me to rely increasingly on my clinical skills and judgement. The smaller number of clinical staff meant that as a student I was given an increased amount of work and responsibility enabling me to have a genuine impact on patient care. Further, the ceiling of care in Katherine highlighted the challenges that many patients living in remote communities face. Numerous patients were required to be transferred to Darwin for treatment, taking them further from their family and support and creating difficulties with discharge and follow-up care.

Outside of the hospital I took advantage of the many surrounding national parks and wilderness areas. Most notably on the lands of the Jawoyn people exploring Nitmiluk. I gazed upon Aboriginal rock art, hiked, swam and paddled through the towering gorge walls, and enjoyed the peaceful sounds of the native wildlife.

I am so grateful to have received the ACEN scholarship to support my placement in Katherine. It alleviated the financial burden associated with travelling to and living in a remote location for the duration of my placement, and enabled me to focus on getting the most out of my time in Katherine, both inside and outside the hospital.

 I can’t wait to start my internship in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek next year and continue building upon all the skills, learnings and experiences I have gained from my time in Katherine.