A Passion for Rural Health

We spoke to Doctor of Medicine student Lloyd Diggins about what motivated him to study Medicine and why his passion for rural health is shaping the kind of doctor he wants to be. Lloyd is an Aboriginal student doctor currently living in Kununurra and completing the penultimate year of the medical course with the Rural Clinical School of WA.

What was your motivation to study Medicine?
Doctor of Medicine student Lloyd Diggins
The reason I decided to study Medicine was because of the shortage of doctors who work remotely, and the significant impact that shortage has on the health of Aboriginal people.

How did receiving the Beasley Family Scholarship for your Medicine studies help you achieve your goals?
Before being awarded the scholarship I was studying full time as well as working both Saturday and Sunday to support my family, which made finding time to study difficult.

This scholarship has allowed me to study in a remote area to learn the skills that I’ll need as a doctor for Aboriginal people. It has also allowed me to stay involved in my community without the difficulty of being unable to support my family.

Where are you currently placed as part of your degree?
We are primarily placed in the Kununnura Hospital’s emergency department and inpatient ward, as well as at the local GP clinic and health clinics in remote communities. We are taught by local doctors, nurses, visiting medical specialists and the local community. As an Aboriginal student I’m also really fortunate that in Kununurra we have two experienced Aboriginal doctors to learn from.

What unique opportunities have you received to work on-Country during your degree?
Notre Dame has a genuine commitment to graduating doctors with a passion for rural medicine ­­– over the past two years the School of Medicine has given me the opportunity to study in Narrogin, Broome, Derby, on Gooniyandi country (near Fitzroy Crossing), and now in Kununurra. Notre Dame is helping me to study my final year in the Kimberley region and in the Northern Territory. As someone who is studying Medicine with the aim to work remotely with Aboriginal people, these amazing opportunities have not only given me training that’s relevant for the kind of doctor I want to be, but they have also kept me motivated to continue studying.

What did you study prior to the Doctor of Medicine?
Before Medicine I worked as a physiotherapist in major hospitals in Perth and Darwin, as well as rurally in South West WA and remotely in East Arnhem Land. Although physiotherapy gives me great satisfaction, I felt that I could offer more to remote communities if I could improve access to dialysis and palliative care for Aboriginal people. I also love living and working remotely, and medicine will allow me to spend the rest of my career living in some of the most beautiful parts of the country.

What is your advice to people considering studying Medicine?
I would encourage anyone with a passion for remote healthcare or rural life to consider studying Medicine. I would recommend finding opportunities to discover as much as possible about the medical profession, and to get a rough idea of where they would like the career to take them – my passion for Aboriginal health keeps me motivated whilst I study.

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