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AMA scholars boost Indigenous medical workforce

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Two AMA scholarship holders are among a large contingent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to graduate from medical school this year, delivering a significant boost to the nation’s Indigenous medical workforce.

AMA Indigenous Peoples’ Medical Scholarship holders Murray Haar and Gemma Johnston are set to being their internships after graduating from the University of New South Wales and the University of Western Australia, respectively.

AMA President Associate Professor Brian Owler said the Association was “very proud” of the achievements of both, and hoped that their success would encourage more Indigenous students to apply for the AMA scholarship.

Mr Haar, who is due to start an internship and residency at Albury Base Hospital, said the scholarship had provided valuable support during the last three years of his degree.

“Receiving the AMA’s scholarship from third year onwards made it possible for me to survive financially as a medical student, and to focus 100 per cent on my studies,” he said.

Ms Johnston said the scholarship had been “immensely important”.

“It took the burden off wondering where I was going to get the money for rent, textbooks, or a new stethoscope after I broke mine,” she said.

Applications for the 2015 scholarship are still open. Details can be found at: ama-indigenous-peoples-medical-scholarship-2015

The AMA has backed the training of Indigenous doctors amid strong evidence that having Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners boosts health outcomes among Indigenous patients.

The need for improvements in Indigenous health care has been underlined by the results of a landmark Productivity Commission report which showed that although there had been important areas of progress, including a narrowing of life expectancy gap between Indigenous Australians and the rest of the community, there remained significant areas of disadvantage.

In particular, the report found a 48 per cent increase in hospitalisations due to intentional self-harm between 2004-05 and 2012-13, and a deterioration in access to clean water and functioning sewerage services.

Adrian Rollins