Kia Ora, John Fernando here.

This is a blog following my time in Western Australia in June/July of 2013.

I am a 5th Year Medical Student at the University of Otago, Christchurch School of Medicine.

Local Aboriginal Elders

Local Aboriginal Elders

However, this year I am a student on the Rural Medical Immersion Programme (RMIP). This means that I am based in the somewhat smaller and more peripheral regions of Wairarapa with 3 of my classmates.

As part of the RMIP myself and three others on the programme have been given the opportunity to go on an exchange to some of the analogous rural medical programmes that run in Australia. My classmate Emma Thompson will be heading to Kalgoorlie. This is a township of approx 20,000 that has been heard to be referred to as the Wild West of Australia. It is situated 600km East of Perth. We have been given the chance to experience life here and to see what it is like to deliver health care in such a setting.

As mentioned, this is an exchange. Hence it involves a reciprocal agreement whereby myself and a student from Kalgoorlie will be changing places for two weeks in order to learn about rural health in not only another region but another country. My counterpart, Erin from Kalgoorlie, will be spending her time in the Wairarapa.

Kids Performing

Kids Performing

Here is the link to ‘The Rural Clinical School of Western Australia: Kalgoorlie’ at which I will be based for my two week exchange. The 9 rural students who are based in Kalgoorlie are away while I am there. I have got to know some of the young hospital doctors here and staff at BEGA clinic and am joining in on what they are up to.

This exchange has ben made possible thanks to sponsorship by the Pat Farry Rural Education Trust. Thank you.

In 2011 I kept a journal which gave a synopsis of my daily activities and some brief thoughts that I had had. This proved to be a very useful exercise for reflecting upon the day, and made for an interesting read when I would look back upon it. My intention for this blog is not dis-similar to the intention of the journal that I kept then. I hope that in this process I might be able to show some insights into my experiences for those who follow this, and also that for myself it will add to the learning opportunities that are presented as I digest what I see and do.

Superpit

Superpit

The rough timetable for my time in Kalgoorlie is as follows:

Week 1: Placement at Bega Garnbirringu Health Service (http://www.bega.org.au/). According to the site, ’The name “Bega Garnbirringu” meaning “sickness gets better”.’ It was previously called Kalgoorlie Aboriginal Health Services.
Week 2: Emergency Medicine at Kalgoorlie Hospital. This is the current plan, though it is open to alteration.

Alongside this I will try and check out what the Wild West town of Kalgoorlie is like.

The first week is NAIDOC week in Australia.

‘NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life.

Scoop at Superpit

Scoop at Superpit

The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
The celebrations/events that are going on in Kalgoorlie are shown in the timetable here.
I am based at BEGA clinic this week so I hope that this will provide some good opportunity to get involved in NAIDOC week. So far I have played in the mixed netball competition and spent the day at the art and community services expo (learning about the range of support that is available within the community).

So far in my clinical exposure I have seen a lot of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, and the resulting complications (such as Chronic Renal Failure). The aboriginal peoples have some of the worst rates of these diseases in the world. So many people are affected by these conditions that it is an understatement to say that it is a major issue for the community. There are major social determinants of health that the community services expo helped to highlight. In a later post I will elaborate on these.

I hope for those who find some time to pop on to this blog find something of interest.

Cheers,
John Fernando :)

Roasted Kangaroo Tail

Roasted Kangaroo Tail

John, Sunset on Rottnest Island

John, Sunset on Rottnest Island