A relatively young medical school, Deakin University has implemented a multifaceted approach to encourage and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students into their medical program, including setting aside 5 percent of domestic places in their postgraduate MD course for Indigenous Australian applicants and ensuring a strong focus on cultural immersion and connection to community.
Dr Laura English was the first student enrolled in the medical program through the Indigenous Entry Stream and celebrated her graduation at the end of last year. Dr English is a proud Yamatji woman with strong ties to the Wathaurong community, and is now interning at University Hospital in Geelong – her hometown.
“Whilst studying at Deakin, Laura has demonstrated considerable leadership and commitment through her involvement in a wide range of community engagement and support activities, and I’m proud and excited to now see her working in her community” said Candice McKenzie, Academic Coordinator for Indigenous Health Education at Deakin medical school.
“In addition to her own studies, Laura has been involved in mentoring Indigenous medical students in our program and in fostering a strong sense of community for incoming medical students – both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous” she said. “I’m in awe of how she has juggled it all. This demonstrates how a little extra support can assist our Indigenous students to manage all the various calls on their time and support them in achieving their considerable potential”.
Read more about Dr English’s story here.
Equitable representation of Indigenous medical students and graduates is an aim that all Australian and New Zealand medical schools are striving towards. Whilst there is still a long way to go, the work to establish Indigenous entry pathways and the increased support that is now available is making a difference and the numbers are gradually and steadily growing – 2018 saw the highest number of commencing Indigenous medical students in both Australia and New Zealand, and 2017 saw the highest number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical graduates.