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12 Dec 2018

It has made a huge difference

I am writing to you today to inform you that I have officially completed my studies at the University of Newcastle in the Bachelor of Medicine program as of the 7th December 2018, and I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the Australian Medical Association for their support throughout my time at Newcastle University that made this endeavour possible with the Indigenous Peoples’ Medical Scholarship 2016.

I can still remember the day I received the phone call that I had been awarded the scholarship. I was studying in the library, trying to finish off that week’s ‘Working Problem’. I saw it was a Canberra phone number, and instantly became nervous. I can still remember saying to myself ‘is this real?’ as I never expected to be even considered for such an award, but nonetheless, it has made a huge difference to where I am today.

As a mature aged student with a family, the scholarship took the pressure off the financial strain of attending university, and allowed me to focus more on my studies at the time when it was needed the most. Previous to the scholarship, my usual routine was to attend university Monday to Friday, then work Friday and Saturday night shifts in as a Registered Nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at the Newcastle Mater Hospital. This left me with one day to spend time with my family, and catch up on any extra reading. The scholarship enabled me to scale back work, spend more time studying, but it also allowed me to spend extra time with my boys.

I was fortunate enough to secure a position as a Junior Medical Officer in the Hunter New England Local Health District, commencing on the 21st January in 2019. This will keep me close to home at the present time, and I am looking forward to the challenge. Being an active member of the Wollotuka Institute at the University of Newcastle, I am also now looking forward to mentoring and tutoring Indigenous medical students in a new capacity so as to foster the next generation of Indigenous medical graduates.

Thank you once again to all the staff at the Australian Medical Association for making this dream possible.

Dr Darren Hartnett




Continues to be the source of support that facilitates my passion to pursue medicine

This year was my first clinical year of medicine, where I was placed in Wagga-Wagga NSW. I have always been sure about pursuing rural and remote medicine – but being immersed in clinical medicine in rural NSW has only reaffirmed this more and made me more motivated!

Reading about the UNSW medicine program before I even gained entry, I was always very keen to be placed in Wagga. I placed it as my first preference and was lucky enough to get it [Wagga is becoming very popular among students!].

The relocation to Wagga from Wollongong was always going to be an expensive exercise; however, it was very comforting knowing that the transition would be supported by the AMA Indigenous medical scholarship. Throughout various placements this year, both within the hospital and the community, I have been exposed to the spectrum of health – and in particular health issues common in rural Australia such as Indigenous health and mental health.

An interest of mine has always been obstetrics, and I have made sure that this year I have had as much exposure as possible. As part of the UNSW medicine program, students are required to complete a 30-week independent learning project in their 4th year of study. I have been fortunate enough to have my proposal approved and will also be completing my research project in Wagga during 2019.

My research has an obstetric focus and will be assessing Indigenous foetal-maternal outcomes. I have not had much exposure to research however I am excited to learn more about rural obstetric medicine and am looking forward to the challenge next year! This year has also seen the budget allocate funding of a new medical school in Wagga-Wagga. I firmly believe this is a great opportunity to increase Indigenous medical student numbers as well as improving retention. As this has involved the current Wagga-Wagga rural clinical school I have been lucky enough to share my thoughts with the Dean of rural medicine.

This is something I have become quite passionate about as I truly believe that increasing the amount of Indigenous medical and allied health professionals will only aid in closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health status. This is a passion which I will continue to lobby for. The AMA Indigenous scholarship has, and continues to be, the source of support that facilitates my passion to pursue medicine. Medicine is a challenging experience and sometimes a little daunting and overwhelming. Being a recipient of the AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship is a constant source of motivation and an opportunity I am and will always be grateful for! Thank you again for your support and in assisting me throughout my medical studies and I look forward to 2019 as a proud recipient of the AMA Indigenous Scholarship.

James Chapman


Published: 12 Dec 2018