Future Doctors Focus on Closing the Gap

Thu, 21 Mar 2019
Future Doctors Focus on Closing the Gap
Med student community meeting

Second-year medical students marked National Close the Gap day with a mock community meeting designed to help them make a difference in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes in the future.

The College is committed to helping to close the gap by integrating content into the curriculum for its medical students to prepare them for working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and in communities.  The aim is to better prepare our future doctors to work within that setting.

To this end, students had the opportunity to learn from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members in a bid to better understand communities During the meeting students had the opportunity to learn from community members about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander The meeting aims to teach the future doctors how to work within, and better understand, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, to tackle serious health problems.

“As part of this, medical students attend a community meeting and work with a group to talk about a health issue, and importantly, look at how they work with members of the community and how they engage that community in projects they’re doing,” Mr Whaleboat said.

As part of the meeting, students learn about the different roles within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including the role of Elders, Men’s and Women’s Business, the importance of community agenda and input, and how to engage the community with health projects.

Students also learn how to engage with community members and how to communicate with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

We do our bit to make sure our content delivers on that, and the content is integrated into the program so that students have an understanding of, and are competent at working with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“We already know there are big differences in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, compared to non-indigenous Australians,” said JCU Senior Lecturer in Medicine, Donald Whaleboat.

“But in rural and remote areas that gap is even wider in terms of life expectancy.  There are still differences,” Mr Whaleboat said.