Kaytetye woman and Tennant Creek Doctor, Sarah Goddard, was crowned the Indigenous Doctor of the Year at the 2022 Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) awards and the organisation’s 25th anniversary.
Dr Goddard grew up in Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory and was inspired to become a doctor when she saw her mother being treated by specialists at a young age. After graduating from the University of Newcastle in New South Wales in 2015, she completed her internship at the Royal Darwin Hospital, before returning home to undertake her Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) training specialising in Emergency.
Just seven years after graduating Sarah has a number of accolades to her name, receiving her framed Fellowship stethoscope after becoming a Fellow with ACRRM in 2020, to winning an award on behalf of Tennant Creek Hospital and General Practice for Training Post of the Year in 2022, and recently receiving AIDA’s flagship award to become the Australian Indigenous Doctor of the Year. To top it all off, Sarah was named Citizen of the Year for Tennant Creek in January this year.
Dr Goddard said she was honoured to have received AIDA’s prestigious award:
‘So many people are proud of me for achieving this and I am very proud. To be nominated by people in my community gives me the recognition everyone strives for.’ Dr Goddard said.
‘I wanted to become a rural doctor to help fill the lack of access of care in rural areas where I work between the Western and Indigenous worlds of understanding medicines,’ she said.
‘I truly love treating all the people of the Barkly and out on the cattle stations, roadhouses and communities and I am living proof that anything is possible.’
Dr Goddard works at the Tennant Creek Hospital and local general practice, as well as the Ali Curung Health Clinic. She has worked with her local community to help create a positive change in Indigenous health after noticing that the disparity between medical terms and local language was leading to language gaps and confusion in patients. Addressing this gap has been a rewarding experience for her: ‘It has been gratifying to be able to explain something that hasn’t been understood by a patient until it’s broken down and seeing them being able to understand what I’m actually trying to say or explaining how to take their medications.’
Dr Goddard has been a member of AIDA since 2008 and hopes to inspire the next generation of doctors.
‘If I can be the role model for any child, Indigenous or not, in rural or remote medicine to become a doctor, my hard work and dedication has paid off and this would mean so much to me.
‘Know that there’s a family before you and there’s going to be a family after you that’ll follow you through.’