Joshua Dickson is a Year 4 MD student based in Alice Springs
I went to high school in Alice Springs and am well aware of the diverse patient population here and the needs of the community for access to excellent health services. I was led to medicine on the familiar path worn by many of my peers: a desire to improve the lives of those around us every day.
Why did you choose Flinders? Because of the Northern Territory Medical Program. I had heard good things about clinical years in Alice, so this is where I chose to go. In fact, Flinders was the only uni I preferenced when applying.
I’ve lived remote since I was 6 years old and spent a lot of my life growing up with Aboriginal families and friends. I thought this program would be the best way to learn medicine in an environment that works with Aboriginal patients every day.
The Territory is home for me and I know there is a need for a consistent medical workforce here, so the choice was clear.
What’s a highlight of your student life at Flinders? Taking on placement in Alice Springs Hospital. I have had very supportive mentors who build me up and encourage me to further my learning, while giving valuable advice on speciality pathways. I’ve regularly been hands-on in terms of practical development and I’ve had the unique opportunity of caring for patients coming from many different remote communities.
How do you juggle and prioritise your study and home lives? It’s a rough balance that I never get right. Sometimes I go months studying every day and wear myself out whereas, during the COVID-19 pandemic for example, I had little motivation and ended-up being a potato on the couch!
To balance this out I try to keep active early in the morning and stay on campus after placement to do some work.
How do you see this course preparing you for your future career? I see this course preparing me for my career by having me in the sort of environment I will be working in. I have worked with Aboriginal medical services such as CAAC in Alice Springs and been directly involved in patient care. There is so much to learn and thinking about that can be overwhelming (imposter syndrome is a reality for many of us students), but I feel the best way to prepare for my career is to stay involved while training.
What do you see as the ideal future for rural and remote health? Ideally, it would be a consistent and committed workforce capability. This will help to build more efficient and targeted public health programs and further ensure that projects are seen through to their conclusion.
We have such a labile workforce for our remote patients, which has less of an impact at the tertiary level, but in my opinion is stifling the overall health and well-being at the primary level.
More resources, not just money, need to be invested into resolving this issue to create the ideal future of improved education and support for our remote patient population.
Tell me something about yourself that others may not know. I spent my early childhood in East-Arnhem land living in Yirrkala near Nhulunbuy and Gunbalanya.
Despite living in the Territory most of my life, I was actually born in Dubbo, which has the prestige of being voted one of Australia’s worst towns – I couldn’t be more proud.