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Themes emerge in health workers’ stories

By Patrick Nelson

Georgina Dornier and Jessie Anderson discuss health courses at CRANAplus Georgina Dornier and Jessie Anderson discuss health courses at CRANAplus

A Charles Darwin University student has gathered the stories of 21 health professionals as part of a project to determine what might help future practitioners better prepare to work in the field of Indigenous health.

Doctoral candidate Robyn Williams said a number of themes had begun to emerge among the stories and reflections captured in her interviews.

“The importance of experience with other cultures was one of them,” Ms Williams said.

“A significant family or childhood event that served as a catalyst to precipitating an interest in Indigenous health also was common.

“And in terms of personality, a strong sense of self, identity and insight also seemed evident in an early analysis of the data.”

Ms Williams spoke in Alice Springs recently at the Council for Remote Area Nurses of Australia conference, where the theme “telling tales – the power of the narrative” reconciled with her research.

“The stories I’ve gathered are the personal, educational and practical experiences of health workers in urban, rural and remote locations.

“Nearly everyone had an interesting, and sometimes extraordinary, story to tell despite their own misgivings that theirs was just ordinary.”

Ms Williams, who also coordinates the Bachelor of Health Science course at CDU, told delegates she took a “conversational tone” and a “basic approach” to her one-on-one interviews.

“While it may sound naïve, I often learnt the most when asking the simple questions like ‘who are you’ and ‘what do you do’.”

Ms Williams said the ultimate purpose of her research was to contribute to better health outcomes for Indigenous people.

“The data extracted from these stories will provide us with a clearer picture of how to adequately prepare health professionals to work more effectively in Indigenous health care settings.”

In addition to Ms Williams’ presentation, CDU and the Menzies School of Health Research contributed to the conference with an information stall.

Health lecturer Jessie Anderson said CDU had a lot to offer in the area of remote and regional health.

“There was a lot of interest from conference delegates about post-graduate study opportunities, particularly in the areas of remote and Indigenous health,” Ms Anderson said.