Six university students from across Australia toured Arnhem Land in August to inspire high school students to pursue a career in health. The students from varied health disciplines were welcomed to the Northern Territory as part of Northern Territory PHN’s (NT PHN) High School to Health Careers Program.
The group travelled 1,600 kilometres to engage with 250 high school students. They visited six schools in Maningrida, Elcho Island, Nhulunbuy, Yirrkala and Bathurst Island.
The week-long program brings future health professionals with a passion for rural health to remote communities to connect with young Territorians. In a bid to inspire high school students to consider a career in health, the group spoke about their studies and career goals, and led interactive activities for students to get a taste of diverse health disciplines.
The added excitement of hands-on activities like suturing and dressing wounds on a medical dummy, checking blood pressure and reassembling the innards of ‘Gutso’ the medical mannequin showcased the options available through pursuing a career in health.
The touring university students also discussed the barriers that some people face in going to university, and ways to overcome these barriers. Program participant Taylor McCormack is from Darwin in the Northern Territory and understands the challenges that some remote high school students face when considering study after high school.
“I’m excited to get the chance to inspire school kids to chase their dreams and become the next generation of health care professionals. I'd love to be able to enlighten high school students on the number of incredible health degrees the Northern Territory has, and the variety of entry pathways that are available to aid in the transition from high school to university.”
Taylor is studying Exercise and Sports Science at Charles Darwin University, and was joined by students from Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, La Trobe University, University of Tasmania and Flinders University studying a range of courses including Aboriginal health, paramedicine, medicine, speech pathology and nursing.
The university students taking part in the High School to Health Careers Program also visited local clinics to enable them to understand better the importance of identifying local health needs and tailoring service delivery. They concluded their tour with a cultural discussion dinner at Shady Beach, Yirrkala, to connect with the spirituality, culture and history of Yolgnu people and Arnhem Land.
The High School to Health Careers Program is an important initiative for NT PHN – as the Territory’s Rural Workforce Agency – to attract future health professionals to live and work in the Northern Territory.
NT PHN CEO Nicki Herriot explained, “The High School to Health Careers Program is a great way for us to showcase the Territory to future health professionals with an interest in remote health. By seeing our remote communities first-hand and exploring the unique professional and personal experiences on offer, we see many of the program’s participants returning to the Territory to work after their studies.”
Of the group who visited Arnhem Land in August, one has accepted a position at Alice Springs hospital in 2019 and another will be completing their first year as an Aboriginal Health Worker in the Northern Territory.
The High School to Health Careers Program will run again in 2019 with groups visiting the Top End, Central Australia and Arnhem Land regions. For more information visit ntphn.org.au/nt-high-school-to-health-careers=program