Thursday Island community inspires UQ medical student

Third-year UQ medical student Mr Charles Bligh has been inspired by the embrace of the Thursday Island community and  given a fresh outlook on remote and indigenous medicine.

UQ Medical School
Study medicine at the University of Queensland
He admits the time he spent on this small island in the Torres Strait as part of his six-week rural clinical rotation was often challenging but it was also deeply rewarding.

Working out of the Thursday Island Hospital and GP clinic that serve the greater Torres Strait region of 274 islands, 17 of which are permanently inhabited, he found himself in a busy and very different new environment.

“I was very green to everything and quite overwhelmed during the first week as I learnt the ropes in the hospital,” he said.

The region has a population of about 10,000 with about 90 per cent of people identifying themselves as Indigenous Australians.

Mr Bligh said he was impressed by the Torres Strait Island people he met and was given a warm welcome wherever he went.

“One of my fondest memories was after a day at the hospital I would go down and sit with all the locals on the wharf and fish, chat, laugh and watch the sun go down,” he said.

As a medical student, Mr Bligh helped out on ward rounds, scrubbed in for surgery, admitted patients into the emergency  department and saw his own patients in the GP clinic.

“The most memorable experience of the rotation was getting in a helicopter and flying out to one of the outer islands for four days and setting up an outreach clinic where we provided health checks and primary health care for local people,” the UQ Medical School student said.

“Being thrown in the deep end was a great learning experience and I’ve come away with confidence and an understanding of what it is like to work in remote indigenous communities. It was an extraordinary time and I feel very lucky and humbled to have been able to learn and experience such an amazing place,” he said
Story via UQMedicine magazine


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