First year pharmacy student's health services experience at the top-end of Australia

Hana Morrissey, Patrick Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: The current Australian health professionals workforce is unevenly distributed between metropolitan, regional, rural, remote and the very remote areas. Many health professionals prefer major cities or towns. This placement was created in the first semester of the course, allowing the students to see rural and remote settings, to facilitate understanding of aspects taught later during the course and to set the scene for further placements. It also aligns with the school focus of health professionals' ability to practice in challenging environments. Objective: To evaluate an experience that was designed to allow students to achieve cultural awareness and promote sensitivity, to become cognisant of the deficit in health outcomes in the Australian Indigenous population, to learn team work, improve communication skills and develop reflective practice. Method: Measurement of the change in the level of knowledge and the attitudes before and after the trip using the Modern Racism Scale (MRS)1-2 and the Attitudes Towards Indigenous Australians (ATIA) Scale1'2 which are well validated instruments. Students: received formal cultural awareness training; visited a range of health facilities; visited cultural places in Katherine area; shared lunches with Indigenous community in Katherine; undertook baseline and follow-up cultural awareness questionnaires; undertook multiple choice questions assessment at the conclusion of the trip; and kept a reflective diary. Results: The experience produced a slight improvement in students' impartiality towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people but greatly improved their knowledge and awareness towards the ATSI Australians. 1. ATIA: 62% before vs. 73% after of students displayed positive attitude towards ATSI and 66% before vs. 83% after displayed positive attitude towards ATSI. 2. MRS: 61% before vs. 57% after of students displayed partiality and 51% before vs. 62% after displayed impartiality. (Author abstract)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-71
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Journal of Pharmacy
Issue number1135
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


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