It’s never too late to make a change of career to a job in health
Experienced people who understand Indigenous cultures and communities are in high demand and can help make a real difference to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
There is plenty of information available on how to change your career along with help and financial support available to assist you in retraining or upgrading your skills. In many cases, past work experience can count towards your qualifications, making training much quicker and easier.
Real people who have changed careers
Aboriginal Health Work Practitioner
Stanley had learned a lot about life before he found his dream job in Indigenous Health. He’d worked for many years as an underground worker and a heavy machine operator before a twist of fate brought him to the Derby Aboriginal Health Service as a temporary driver.
Here he saw how reluctant many men were to see a doctor for regular check-ups. So at 42, he decided to do something to help change that and set about becoming a fully qualified Aboriginal Health Work Practitioner.
Today, Stanley has a real interest in Teleophthalmology – digital eye-screening technology that helps patients in even the most remote areas to have access to specialist eye treatment.
“If you want a job in Aboriginal health, there’s a job there for you in all sorts of areas.” he says. “You’ve got to be a good listener and be able to explain the importance of good health.”
Medical Student: Future chopper doctor
Medicine wasn’t Joel’s preferred choice of career when he finished school. He took up teaching first – only to find that “the kids I most liked working with were the ones who were too sick to be at school.
“Education is important, but your health is something else,” he says.
So Joel changed careers and is now studying for his medical degree at the University of Newcastle, “when I’ve finished my degree, my aim is to put myself out of a job. I want people to be well – not sick.”
Joel’s dream is to be a chopper doctor so he can fly to really remote places and work.
“I love working at the grassroots in the communities where you are not just churning people over, but building real relationships and being part of the community.”
Aboriginal Health Work Practitioner
Doris had worked in a range of jobs and had raised six children before she entered into Aboriginal Health as a mature aged student. Deciding to do a carer’s course, Doris soon worked her way up to her dream job and is now a Senior Aboriginal Health Work Practitioner at the Anyinginyi Health Service at Tennant Creek.
Immunisations, medication dispensing, health checks, and diabetes and renal education are all part of her daily routine. Her role also includes servicing the wider community in the area by operating the bush mobile runs to smaller communities and outstations up to 100 kilometres from Tennant Creek. She provides a high level of care to all clients especially those with Diabetes, Renal disease and other chronic medical conditions.
“I love the work, it’s so rewarding,” Doris says. “Every day brings new challenges, there’s always something happening.”
James worked in the building trade before making a career change to Indigenous Health. He went to TAFE to complete both his year 8 and year 10 equivalencies first, then enrolled at Marden Senior College where he completed years 11 and 12. With his secondary schooling complete, James went on to University of SA to study Podiatry.
Podiatry is the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the foot and lower leg, which is an area of high need among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The high rate of diabetes in the Indigenous community causes a range of foot problems associated with infection, nerve damage and circulation problems.
According to James, treating these and other foot issues is an extremely satisfying career.
“People are usually glad to see you,” he says, “because in a lot of cases, I can give them a short treatment which will provide them with instant relief.”