Debra Lee

Candidate: Debra Lee

Rural Health Club: SHARP

Discipline: Medicine

Please provide summary of why you are interested in the position, your ability to fulfill the position and your previous experience related to the position. (Word limit: 300 words)

I am a Pharmacist who has worked predominantly in rural and remote health for several years. Working in these often under-staffed and under-resourced areas has given me a great appreciation for how important the local community is in upholding individual patient care. Now, as a medical student, I would like to continue to build on and expand these communities, so that rural and remote health care can one day be on par with that provided in metropolitan areas. I believe my passion for rural health, and my experience in largely Indigenous communities as an allied health professional will bring new ideas and innovation to the NRHSN. Currently, I am an executive committee member of SHARP. I have been a foundational member since the start of my degree. As a regional university, a lot of our club activities are focussed on including staff and students from all across the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions. Being split across two campuses, it can sometimes be a challenge to coordinate events to be as inclusive as possible, while overcoming technical and geographical challenges. Being based on the rural campus, I have had to be innovative when trying to engage the Shoalhaven campus in events occurring on the main campus. I find it helps to be more active amongst the community so students and staff are more engaged and willing to participate when there is a familiar face. With my experience as both a pharmacist who has worked across several states, and as a student advocate, I hope to share my knowledge and work with students from all health backgrounds on a national level to promote the importance of rural and remote health, while building a stronger foundation for our future health workforce.

Please provide a response to the Key Selection Criteria. (Word limit: 1000 words)

1. I am able to provide timely and professional responses to emails and phone calls throughout the term. Although I am based in regional areas, there is always sufficient internet connections for me to keep open communication lines. 2. When travel reopens, I will be available to attend meetings throughout the term as required. In the likeliness that meetings will have to occur through telecommunications for the time being, I am well-rehearsed as I’ve used these resources in the past as a regional pharmacist and as a student studying on a rural campus. 3. I am currently the Senior Medical Representative of the Student Health Alliance for Rural Populations (SHARP) at the University of Wollongong. Last year, I was the Junior Medical Representative for SHARP. 4. As previously stated, I have extensive experience as a Pharmacist working in rural and regional health. Often, I’ve had to work closely with the local Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) to coordinate care for Indigenous Australians. It can be difficult when these Indigenous individuals live in very remote areas, with limited access to health services. In these times, I have to be innovative in coming up with ways that these patients can still be well cared for while living ‘on country.’ This requires first and foremost building patient rapport, and rapport with the local community. It is definitely challenging at times, but that is part of the reason why I love rural health. 5. As the senior medical representative of SHARP, I have helped to coordinate several events including med camp and our bi annual speakers’ night. This requires not open communication, but the ability to delegate, discuss and juggle several things at once. Additionally, I have participated in a volunteer health program in India where I was the treasurer. This meant delegating resources to projects in fair way and working with different teams to optimise spending. This requires the skills of negotiation and forward planning. Often there would be arguments over spending, so I’d have to make the tough decisions that would benefit the most people. 6. As a member of SHARP and an allied health professional, I have presented my experiences at SHARP events. Although I have no experience with media interviews, I have had the pleasure of participating in the medical admission interviews and am able to conduct myself professionally as appropriate. I have also appeared in some publications involving the Rural Health Network and the ‘Go Rural’ road trip I was lucky enough to participate in. 7. As I am currently on the executive committee for SHARP, and previously on the executive committee for Global Health Group, I understand the commitments required. I enjoy participating in group discussions on how to engage students in rural health. I understand that as an NRHSN committee member, I will be required to contribute to the NRHSN e-newsletter, attend meetings, meet with stakeholders, engage in health club activities, engage with RHCs all over the state and advocate with and for NRHSN members and its affiliations. 8. As a regional pharmacist, I have been a part of the multidisciplinary team and understand that rural and remote health requires a wholesome approach. While working in a multidisciplinary team, it is important to understand each member role and their limitations to fully optimise patient care. As SHARP is composed of all allied health students, I have had the pleasure of discussing rural health from the many points of views of curious minds. Each discipline brings their own unique view point which helps to identify barriers and break down hurdles. 9. NRHSN have several position publications in regards to student wellbeing and rural health supports. These resources have been a useful student guide for me and I hope to be able to contribute to them to help other students like me, who are curious about the rural health environment but may not always understand the best approach. 10. In my undergraduate degree, I sat on the student body. This required listening to the opinion of my peers, and making sure the minorities were also represented and heard, while keeping my own opinions aside. 11. Being a medical student on several committees, as well as working as a Pharmacist and an individual who enjoys many extra circular activities, I am very proficient in my time management and meeting deadlines. I make sure my work is done well in advance of their due dates so I can enjoy a less stressful environment and enjoy the time I take off. 12. As I have been a health professional for several years, often locuming in my spare time, I understand the importance of professional behaviour. I have attended countless professional conferences and meetings in my time, and am able to carry myself accordingly. 13. I have recently just completed a locuming stint where I have been a part of a multidisciplinary team. I find that this is different to working in a team amongst student peers, as the aim shifts from the patient, to individual student learning in a cohesive manner. In our student -based learning sessions, some students are less inclined to participate out of shyness or other. As a member of a team, it is important that one team member does not drown out another’s voice which can impact on each other’s’ learning opportunities. Being part of a team means encouraging those who are not as confident, to make sure they have a voice as well. 14. As I have previously been in close contact with the Rural Health Network, I believe I am able to closely collaborate with the Consortium of Rural Workforce Agencies. My experience with RHN has been nothing but helpful and pleasant, and those working in the field are passionate about helping students engage in rural health. I hope that I am able to reflect this attitude onto those I will be collaborating with.

Please provide your Curriculum Vitae. This can include a summary of specific previous experiences you have had related to rural health and leadership (events, courses, positions held, relevant previous or current employment). (Word limit: 500 words)

Second year medical student at the University of Wollongong (2020) Pharmacist working in the Shoalhaven region (Current) Senior Medical Representative of SHARP at UoW (2019-current) – Organising guest speakers – Organising health promotion and fundraising events – Speaking at events about my own personal experiences in rural health as a Pharmacist – Preparing health information for other students Global Health Group Crossing Borders Representative (2019) – Rallying for refugee health – Engaging in discussions related to current political stances and legislation about refugee health and rights – Advocating for equity in healthcare for underprivileged groups Participation in the Go Rural road trip hosted by Rural Doctors Network (2019) – Visiting several rural towns throughout central NSW, such as hospitals, Aboriginal Medical Services and nursing posts – Speaking to local allied health workers and doctors about their experiences and challenges Attendance at the ‘Close the Gap’ conference in Canberra, hosted by ANU (2019) – Achievement of ‘cultural awareness training’ certificate Work as a locum regional Pharmacist in several senior positions – Warrnambool Base Hospital (VIC): rehabilitation pharmacist (2018) – Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital (WA): acting senior regional clinical pharmacist (2018) – Bunbury community pharmacy (WA): community pharmacist (2018) – Cairns Base Hospital (QLD): locum pharmacist (2017) – Mildura Base Hospital (VIC): ED and AMS pharmacist (2016) – Geraldton Regional Hospital (WA): intern pharmacist (2015) Volunteer for Go Global in India: treasurer (2014) – Planning and coordinating of fundraising events – Allocation of funds – Planning of health projects – Implementation of health projects such as education in hand hygiene and feminine health products Involvement in several community sports (ongoing) – Netball, yoga, boxing, volleyball, swimming, running, triathlon