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New indigenous doctors celebrate their graduation with a visions of the future

HAVE you ever been treated by an indigenous doctor?

If not, your chance just increased thanks to a record eight indigenous doctors-in-training graduating from UNSW this week.

Among the new graduates is western Sydney’s Brendan Phillips who will start his internship at Nepean Hospital next year. Mr Phillips said he pursued a career in medicine so he could have a positive impact on the indigenous community.

“I wanted to be a doctor since I can remember, but I was emboldened by the issues that faced the indigenous community,” he said.

“I am a little bit apprehensive, but very excited to be starting work.”

Hoping to specialise in rheumatology or nephrology, the 25-year-old believes the number of indigenous doctors needs to increase so the health and life expectancy of the indigenous population improves.

“Indigenous Australians are likely to better understand the social concerns, health issues and family dynamics specific to indigenous people,” Mr Phillips explained. “(The lower life expectancy) is down to their reluctance to approach healthcare providers and a lack of access to health professionals.”

The new group of doctors includes a former electrician, musician and a former army sniper and Mr Phillips says that it shows that anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it.

“I went to Cranebrook High School and grew up in a poor family, but I put in the hard yards and got where I needed to be. Your past doesn’t have to determine where you can get in life.”

Article by Burney Wong of Penrith Press, 17 December 2015.

The Pre-Medicine Program is a separate entry into medicine scheme for Indigenous students, run jointly by Nura Gili and the Rural Clinical School.