James Cook University speech pathology student Jamie-Lee Tarver is passionate about using her skills to help bridge the health gap in rural communities.
In 2018 Jamie-Lee received a CRANAplus remote placement scholarship, sponsored by HESTA.
What motivated you to study speech pathology?
I wanted to study a degree where I could help people in a really meaningful way and help to change their lives, and healthcare has always been an area that I have been interested in. Communication is a basic human right and impacts all areas of our lives; swallowing is something that we do 900 times per day. So these are two areas that people can often take for granted and don’t realise the importance of until they have difficulties with them. It gives me great pride to be able to help people overcome challenges they may face in these areas. I am very happy that I made the decision to study this profession.
Why did you choose Katherine for your placement?
I have wanted to go to Katherine for my fourth year placement since early on in my degree. Access is a major challenge in rural/remote healthcare, so the idea of being able to help to bridge this gap was a main driver of my desire to go to Katherine. I was attracted to a number of things, including the rural/remote location (as I grew up in a rural town), the experience of living in a different state and area that has a different culture and large Indigenous population, working independently as a speech pathologist (under supervision) and providing a service to children that would otherwise not exist if it wasn’t for the program.
What were the top three experiences or learning outcomes of your time there?
The first was learning to understand the whole picture of a client and applying this to a clinical situation. My clinical educator helped me develop a greater understanding of how important that is in order to fully understand their story and help achieve better client outcomes. This meant investigating and considering their speech, language, social skills/pragmatics, cognition, general development, their general medical background/history and their social situation.
The second was developing my understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture through lived experience. This meant talking to local Elders and residents, learning stories about the Stolen Generation from the Katherine area at the local museum, and working with Aboriginal children in a clinical environment.
The third was that placement was a fantastic opportunity to gain an insight into not only the challenges, but the many benefits of working and living in a rural and remote area. This includes being involved in a small community and feeling like you are really making a difference. For example, I volunteered at a local working bee with the Katherine Stolen Generation Group, where we spent the day contributing to the Reflection & Healing Garden to create a safe and peaceful space for people to use. Myself and one of my peers also helped set up and attended the National Apology Day ceremony.
How did the HESTA scholarship help you make the most of your time there?
The scholarship was a major financial help as it covered about three quarters of my travel and accommodation costs.