Wuchopperen Health Service Limited proudly supports the next generation of doctors through its medical student and registrar placement programs.
GP Registrars Dr Alex and Dr Schussler are on placement while third year medical student Josh Preece completed his in August.
Josh, a University of Sydney medical student, has a close personal connection with Wuchopperen.
‘My nanna, Louisa Preece, (who I stayed with while I was up in Cairns) worked at Wuchopperen from 1993 to 2005 as Registered Nurse,’ he explained.
‘My auntie Julie Boneham was a Registered Nurse at Wuchopperen and has previously served as the Chairperson of and is currently a director on Wuchopperen’s Board, my auntie Cilla Preece was a dental assistant at Wuchopperen and later served on Wuchopperen’s Board, and my cousin, Dania Ahwang is currently the CEO.’
Josh, a third year medical student, chose Wuchopperen for his GP placement in order to gain a greater understanding of the community controlled health sector.
‘I have been lucky enough to sit in with Wuchopperen’s Chronic and Complex Health GPs and really get a feel for what the working life of a GP is like,’ he said.
‘I was able to get involved with patient’s healthcare, and hear their stories. I chose Wuchopperen for my placement because I really wanted to get some exposure to frontline Indigenous health at an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.
‘A patient being able to have all their healthcare needs met in a culturally appropriate setting, and having “Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands” was really inspiring. It shows that self-determination, autonomy, and self-governance works!’
Josh said he learned that health is more than the problem presented at an appointment.
‘I learned that you have to think about the whole person in front of you, especially in Indigenous healthcare,’ he said.
‘You can’t just solve “high blood pressure”, you need to be thinking holistically about a person’s lifestyle and goals, the social context in which they live, and respect their autonomy. I was lucky enough to sit in with Wuchopperen’s diabetes educators, nursing team, physio, dietitian, and Aboriginal health workers, as well as spending some time at the Raintrees pharmacy. It was great to see the whole range of allied health services and how we can all work together to drive patient outcomes.’
Wuchopperen’s new GP Registrars, Dr Jerry Alex and Dr Ben Schussler have also been on learning curves.
Dr Jerry, who is spending six months doing an extended skills placement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, said the ‘learning is constant.’
‘I wanted to do my placement here because I am interested in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. The learning process is constant and I gaining a better understanding of the multiple impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.’
‘I am planning to do a Fellowship in Indigenous health next year.’
Dr Ben Schussler, who is spending a year at Wuchopperen, has worked in a range of clinics including Chronic and Complex and Men and Male Youth since beginning his placement in February.
His decision to do his placement at Wuchopperen was inspired by a wish to find out more about Indigenous health, and to increase his skills in caring for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
‘I wanted to increase my knowledge of Indigenous health issues and culture as well as improve my skills in providing medical care to this population,’ Dr Ben explained.
Like Josh and Dr Jerry, Dr Ben said he has learned an enormous amount since starting his placement.
‘It has been, and is, such a great experience working here,’ he said.
‘I have learned about medical problems such as rheumatic heart disease that I likely never would have seen had I not worked with this group of patients. I have learned more about the Indigenous culture and history in Australia and have a better understanding of the barriers to care for Indigenous Australians.’
‘I am very impressed with the services available at Wuchopperen. The resources available to optimise patient care are superb. The opportunity to access allied health services for my patients far exceeds what is typically available in general practice.’