Lisa Dunn has been a Dental Assistant for seven years, working in private practice in Hobart. She became involved with RAHC in October 2009 and her first placement in the Northern Territory was at Elcho Island working in the Ngalkanbuy Clinic.
“To say it was an 'eye-opener' would be the understatement of the year!” Lisa said. “I had no idea about Indigenous anything, let alone the state of Indigenous health, and specifically the state of their dental health.”
But Lisa says from her first day providing support to the hard-working permanent health workforce in remote Northern Territory, she just loved it.
“The work we do within the communities is so needed and very much appreciated and that sense of appreciation is shown in numerous ways.
“Since that placement, I have done five others, including going back to Elcho Island two more times.
“I have just returned from Groote Eylandt, and it by far has been my most enjoyable placement.”
Lisa ran the dental clinic Monday to Thursday at Angurugu Health Centre, servicing patients from the Indigenous communities of Angurugu, Umbakumba, and Bickerton Island. On Friday a clinic was set up at the Alyangula Health Centre and patients were attended to on a 'fee-paying' basis, i.e. as a clinic in an urban setting would operate.
“This was a unique thing for a remote placement, but I felt it worked well and served the needs of all of the community,” Lisa said. “Plus the money made goes back into the community, to bring the next dental team out.”
The health and wellbeing of Indigenous children, young people and families can be improved through RAHC placements and Lisa saw first-hand the difference that can be made by helping to improve access to services and health outcomes for Indigenous Australians.
“The facilities and services available to you as part of a remote team are unlike any other I had experienced, and in fact it wasn't really 'remote' at all,” Lisa said. “We had access to supermarket, shops, and banks, a recreation centre, five star resort (I know, the hardship of it all), swimming pool and we even had a car available to us for the weekends!
“For me, the best way to get the 'best' out of your placement, regardless of where it is, is to immerse yourself in what's going on, be open and receptive to what's going on around you, and take up any invites extended your way.
“I cannot fault the RAHC team in any way, shape or form. I think they all do a tremendous job, in what must be a very challenging arena.
And to other health professionals who are thinking of becoming involved in RAHC? “Have a good long look at yourself first,” says Lisa. “But then take the leap and sign on - you won't regret it.”
Would you like to share your RAHC experience with other Health Professionals? We are always looking for RAHC Health Professionals to tell us about their experience, by preparing a RAHC story. If you are willing to share your story, please contact your Placement Consultant or email us.