The future of medicine looks bright with medical students like Clancy Read
At Wavelength, we love supporting the next generation of doctors and have been assisting UNSW Medical students for the last 9 years. One of the initiatives we support each year is the Wavelength International Elective Scholarship, enabling an Aboriginal medial student to continue their medical studies with travel to another area of Australia for an elective placement.
In this article, we interview Wavelength UNSW Medical School Scholarship recipient, Clancy Read — an inspirational Indigenous Medical Student who has a big vision for the future.
Inspired by medicine from a young age
When did you decide to become a doctor?
I first thought about becoming a doctor when I was 7 years old. At the time my brother had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that is most common in children. He survived because he had a brilliant paediatrician who diagnosed him after two other doctors had failed to. This is the reason why paediatrics is one of the areas I am most interested in.
I’m also interested in Emergency Medicine as I really enjoy the ability to see many patients in a day, make a diagnosis and start managing them ASAP. It is a very practical part of medicine and I often imagine that if I were an Emergency Doctor and I saw someone collapse on the side of the street, I would have a good chance at being able to save them.
What was the inspiration behind your decision to work in Aboriginal medicine?
As an Aboriginal man from the Bidjara mob, I see many of the easily preventable illnesses that my people suffer from, and the mistrust between Aboriginal people and doctors. As an Aboriginal doctor, I hope to treat my people in a way that is culturally appropriate and help them feel more comfortable and safer. This was something that I discovered I could do whilst working in my elective placement in Alice Springs. I believe that an Aboriginal medical workforce is one of the best ways to help close the gap.
A day in the life of a Medical Student
Tell us about your days during your elective at Alice Springs
I would usually wake up around 6am to start work in Emergency Medicine at the Alice Springs Hospital. Shifts lasted 5 hours per day. I’d greet the team and ask if there were any patients I could see on my own and after seeing them, I would present the patient’s case back to a doctor — giving them my provisional diagnosis, a summary of their presentation and what management I believe they should have. I would also follow a doctor and help with odd jobs, like putting in a cannula or even helping suture up any traumatic cuts.
On my first day at Alice Springs Hospital, I was thrown in the deep end and tasked to clean and suture some ‘Sorry Cuts’ on an Aboriginal patient’s arm. ‘Sorry cuts’ are self-inflicted cuts as a sign of grief for losing a family member. I needed to assess whether the nerves and arteries were intact, (they were, luckily). I then sutured the 5 cuts, with guidance from an Emergency Department Registrar. I was quite nervous since I had only practiced on pig skin previously, however, with some direction from the registrar, I was capable of suturing the patient.
The team at Alice Springs was very welcoming and took me out to see some areas that I wouldn’t have had a chance to visit otherwise. I was very lucky to have some doctors take me to see the normally dry Todd River flowing. It is a rare occurrence, and when it happens the outback town nearby really comes alive!
What is your most rewarding medical experience so far?
As a medical student, you’re mostly observing. So, I think the most rewarding parts of medicine for me, so far, have been simply seeing the different parts of human life and interacting with people along each stage. I remember going from a geriatrics term seeing people at the end of their life and the incredible stories they tell, and then going to Obstetrics and seeing the birth of a new life. It gives you a sense of the cyclical nature of life that is truly unique to medicine, it is an absolute privilege.
Being passionate about all experiences in hospital and how I can help people when I become a doctor, has been the most motivating reason for me to broaden my medical knowledge.
What appeals to you most about further studies in medicine?
I love learning and there’s an infinite amount of content to learn about the human body. Despite the heavy workload, it is important for me to allow for downtime, which I have through plenty of socialising and hobbies like rock climbing, photography, playing guitar and the piano.
I’m also excited to become a doctor to not only help my people but also the environment. I believe that as a doctor, I’ll have more influence politically and at a grassroots level to help people see that we need to do more to save our beautiful country.
Finding balance as a medical student
What challenges have you faced as a medical student?
Some of the biggest challenges for me have been balancing my studies whilst being able to see my family and socialise. As a medical trainee, you can also sometimes feel like you’re disturbing other doctors at the hospital by asking how you can help or by following doctors around. In my final couple of years, this has been a lot easier to manage as I can now help a lot more.
Mental health is also possibly the biggest thing that medical students and doctors struggle with. I think the massive workload and constant need to be on our toes while working can be quite stressful. For me I have found meditation to be very helpful and use the Headspace app.
Helping our future doctors navigate medical school
How has the Wavelength scholarship helped you to continue your studies?
The Wavelength Scholarship gave me funds to be able to fly to Alice Springs and afford food and a place to stay while living in the area. I also had a bit leftover to help me when I got back home, covering some of my living expenses in Sydney and giving me more time to study in my final year of medicine, when I had minimal time for a job outside of my studies.
Thank you for your time Clancy, and we wish you all the best with your continued medical studies!
Are you a Junior Doctor who is looking for support as you begin your medical career? Register with our team to learn about how Wavelength can help you find the perfect medical job or locum to suit your career interests and lifestyle.