Torres Strait Islander man T’Kido Titasey grew up on Thursday Island, where he observed widespread health disparities due to a lack of access to culturally appropriate healthcare.
He is planning to return to the Torres Strait following his studies to help address these issues by establishing his local own health service or charitable foundation.
“As a child growing up on Thursday Island in the Torres Strait, the longstanding inequalities in access to culturally safe healthcare was normalised,” Mr Titasey said.
“My drive is to go back to my community to address those health issues and hopefully make a difference.”
The AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship has been running since 1994, providing $11,000 per year to enrolled Indigenous medical students for the remainder of their degree.
Mr Titasey pursued his passion for healthcare by becoming a Registered Nurse before starting a medical degree at the University of Queensland three years ago.
He plans to pursue a speciality in cardiology, ophthalmology or rural generalism. The 27-year-old said the health inequalities that exist among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities had affected his family.
“My grandmother had to leave the Torres Strait because she had a heart attack and required a quadruple bypass, and I could see the impact it had of taking someone like her, a notable figure, away from their community,” Mr Titasey said.
Mr Titasey said the AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship had alleviated pressures to help him stay focused on study and pursue his career goals, while staying connected with his family, friends and community.
AMA President Professor Steve Robson, who presented the scholarship in Brisbane on Wednesday night, said he was inspired by Mr Titasey’s personal story and passion for healthcare.
“I have been struck by T’kido’s profound sense of community and desire to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Professor Robson said.
“To begin closing the gap in health outcomes for First Nations communities, it is vital to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples designing and delivering healthcare models that are culturally appropriate and accessible in all areas of the country.
“Initiatives like the AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship are so important to help grow the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce, which we hope will lead to improved equity and access, creating better health outcomes for their communities.”
A second AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship recipient will be announced in early 2024.