Attending school & completing school

Giving Something Back

AMA Indigenous Scholarship winner has her eye on community health.

A medical student with a passion for improving health in remote communities has won the AMA Indigenous Peoples’ Medical Scholarship for 2008.

AMA President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, awarded the scholarship to Gemma Johnston, a medical student at the University of Western Australia, on Wednesday, May 21.

Valued at $9000 for each year of study, the scholarship provides support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying medicine.

The scholarship was established in 1995 with the help of the Department of Health and Ageing and this year has received the support of the Reuben Pelerman Benevolent Foundation.

Gemma says her career goal is to work as either an ophthalmologist (an eye doctor) or obstetrician (a doctor for pregnant women) in remote communities in the Top End.

“I don’t think there are enough Indigenous doctors working in Indigenous communities,” she says.

“I have an amazing opportunity to have a career in which I’ll be able to help other people. I never thought I’d go to university, but I’ve been given this opportunity to study with support from my community and the wider Indigenous community, and I would love to be able to give something back.”

Australia currently boasts only around 100 Indigenous medical practitioners.

“This scholarship is an excellent opportunity to encourage more Indigenous students to consider a career in medicine, particularly in Indigenous health,” says Dr Capolingua.

“The AMA believes helping Indigenous medical students to get through university and go out to serve the community can only help in the national effort towards closing the gap.”


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