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Examining Students’ Experiences of Indigenous Health within the Monash MBBS. Lana Prout MBBS (Hons) BMedSc (Hons). Introduction.

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examining students experiences of indigenous health within the monash mbbs

Examining Students’ Experiences of Indigenous Health within the Monash MBBS

Lana Prout

MBBS (Hons)BMedSc (Hons)


Indigenous people, encompassing those of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin, remain the least healthy group of people in Australia, with an average life expectancy 17 years lower than the national average (ABS, 2007). The reasons for this are complex and numerous.

The achievement of substantial improvements in Indigenous health will depend on both health and non-health sectors working together with Indigenous leaders and communities.


The education of future medical practitioners must take into consideration this current disparity of health status between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and ensure that medical students are taught how to facilitate culturally-appropriate healthcare in order to assist the improvement of Indigenous health outcomes.

  • CDAMS Indigenous Health Curriculum Development Project (2003)
  • CDAMS Indigenous Health Curriculum Framework (2004)
  • AMC Accreditation Standards Endorsement of IHCF(2004)
  • AMC Re-endorsement (2007)
  • University Curriculum developments
    • University of Newcastle
    • University of Western Australia
    • James Cook University
structure of the project
Structure of the Project
  • Project Outline
  • Literature Review
  • Ethics Approval
  • Data Gathering
  • Data Analysis
  • Thesis Writing
  • Recommendations
rationale for the project
Rationale for the Project
  • Identified gap in the literature
    • Limited investigation into students’ experiences of Indigenous health curricula
  • Significance of CDAMS Indigenous Health Curriculum Framework implementation
  • Recommendations from Government bodies for inclusion of appropriate Aboriginal health teachings in medical courses
aims of the project
Aims of the Project
  • To examine a cohort of Monash medical students’ experiences of the Indigenous health curriculum of the Monash MBBS course through the use of semi-structured interviews with current medical students
aims of the project1
Aims of the Project
  • The project intended to assess
    • What exposure students have had
    • Their understanding of the rationale behind including Indigenous health within the MBBS curriculum
    • Their interpretation of the meaning of Indigenous health teachings in the context of the broader MBBS course
  • Compare students’ experiences with audited Indigenous health curricula & CDAMS IHCF
  • Provide feedback to Faculty
literature review
Literature Review
  • Kamien,1975, Education in community medicine with an emphasis on the health of an Aboriginal community: a pilot project
  • Kaufman, 1984, Medical students and Aborigines: can prejudice be reduced?
  • Copeman, 1989, Medical students, Aborigines and migrants: evaluation of a teaching programme
  • Jamrozik, 1995, Going bush – helping medical students learn from Aboriginal people
  • Garvey & Hazell, 1997, Developing rapport: Aboriginal camps for medical students
  • Rasmussen, 2001, Towards reconciliation in Aboriginal health: initiatives for teaching medical students about Aboriginal issues
  • Paul, Carr & Milroy, 2006, Making a difference: the early impact of an Aboriginal health undergraduate medical curriculum
literature review1
Literature Review
  • International
    • New Zealand (Otago University)
    • Canada
    • United States of America
  • Phillips, 2004, CDAMS Indigenous Health Curriculum Framework
  • Phillips, 2004, CDAMS Indigenous Health Curriculum Development Project: National Audit and Consultations Report
  • Wilson, 2006, CDAMS Indigenous Health Curriculum Review – Mapping exercise examining Indigenous health content in the MBBS
  • Qualitative data
    • Semi-structured interviews
  • Criterion sampling
    • Active clinical medical student
    • Previous exposure to Indigenous health curriculum
    • Based in Gippsland during 2007
  • Volunteer sampling
semi structured interviews
Semi-Structured Interviews
  • Audio-taped
  • Themes
    • Exposure to Indigenous Health
    • Understanding of the rationale behind inclusion of Indigenous Health within the MBBS
    • Experience and meaning of Indigenous health in the context of the broader MBBS course
methodology data analysis
Methodology – Data Analysis
  • Miles and Huberman Framework for Qualitative Data Analysis (1994)
    • Data Reduction
      • Editing
      • Coding and memoing
      • Identifying themes
      • Conceptualising and explaining
    • Data Display
    • Drawing and Verifying conclusions
      • Thematic analysis
  • Inductive and Deductive
results background info
Results – Background Info
  • 12 interviews
  • Origin – Rural (58%), City (42%)
  • Year Level – III (50%), IV (50%)
  • Only 3 students had had significant prior contact with Indigenous people
  • Year IVs reported more Indigenous health teachings
key themes
Key Themes
  • Integration
  • Temporality
  • Clinical relevance
  • Locality
  • City-Neglect
  • Delivery
  • Authenticity and Credibility
  • Hidden curriculum
student reported barriers
Student Reported Barriers
  • Poor integration of Indigenous health across all themes of the MBBS course
  • Teaching Indigenous health only in a rural context
  • Providing teaching focused on the pre-clinical years
  • Locating a lot of Indigenous health teaching only within electives
  • Dictating teaching methods
  • Authenticity of the teacher (in some cases)
student reported facilitators
Student Reported Facilitators
  • Integrating Indigenous health across all themes of the course
  • Interactive teaching methods
  • Using teaching staff who have experience and passion regarding Indigenous health
  • Appropriate involvement of Indigenous people including providing adequate briefing
  • Providing opportunities for clinical experience in Indigenous health
  • Offering electives, on top of the core curriculum, for students with demonstrated interest in Indigenous health
  • Undergo further curriculum evaluation and development
  • Expand Indigenous health teachings to ensure all students are able to satisfy IHCF standards
  • Ensure adequate horizontal and vertical integration
  • Re-emphasise the clinical relevance of Indigenous health
  • Introduce tutorial-based, interactive learning opportunities
  • Ensure that both rural and urban perspectives of Indigenous health are taught
  • Use teaching staff with experience in and demonstrated passion for Indigenous health
  • Increase the representation of Indigenous people within the Faculty
  • Involve Indigenous people appropriately ensuring adequate briefing
  • Improve the training for tutors (e.g. PCL)
  • Offer additional learning opportunities for students with a demonstrated interest
  • Small participant group
  • Only 2 year levels
  • Effect of recall bias
  • Rural Clinical School students
  • Relationship between participants and researcher
areas for further research
Areas for Further Research
  • Larger sample size
  • Longitudinal tracking
    • Undergraduate
    • Post-graduate
  • Impact of outside exposure
  • Influence of prior exposure to Indigenous people
  • Effect of curriculum on student attitudes regarding Indigenous issues overall
  • Unfavourable comparison between:
    • Monash vs. CDAMS IHCF
    • Students vs. Documented curriculum
  • Factors deemed by students to influence their learning in Indigenous health
  • Need for additional development and ongoing evaluation of curriculum
  • Further research necessary
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (2007). Year Book Australia 2007. Retrieved [2 June 2007] from http://www.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/1301.0Main%20Features12007?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=1301.0&issue=2007&num=&view=
  • Phillips, G.L. (2004). CDAMS Indigenous Health Curriculum Framework. Melbourne: VicHealth Koori Health Research and Community Development Unit, University of Melbourne
  • Green, J. and Thorogood, N. (2004). Qualitative Methods for Health Research, Chapter 8, London, Sage.
  • Liamputtong, P. and Ezzy, D. (2005). Qualitative Research Methods, Chapter 12, Melbourne, Oxford.
  • Minichiello, V. et al (1995). In-Depth Interviewing, Melbourne, Longman.
  • Punch, K. (2005). Analysis of Qualitative Data, Chapter 10, Sage [electronic resource] Accessed 16/July/07 via Monash University Digitised Collection
  • Snyder, B. (1971). The Hidden Curriculum, New York, Knopf.
  • Wolcott, H.F. (1994). Transforming Qualitative Data: Description, Analysis and Interpretation, Chapter 4, Thousand Oaks: CA, Sage. Accessed 16/July/07 from: www.ehr.nsf.gov/EHR/REC/pubs/NSF97-153/CHAP_4.HTM