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Leilani Greene and Ketisha Gill. Photo: QUT

New QUT indigenous scholarship helps students to work rural and remote

A goal to work in rural and remote nursing has been the driving force for students Ketisha Gill and Leilani Greene, as they become the first recipients of QUT’s new $10,000 Argent Indigenous Nursing Scholarship.

Both studying a double degree in nursing and paramedic science, the two students will receive the financial boost they need to help them pay for travel and living costs associated with their vital final year practical placements in communities in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Following a six-week paramedicine placement in Cherbourg this semester, Ketisha, 24, will head to Alice Springs Hospital in June for a six-week nursing placement in its intensive care unit.

“I have big dreams to work in rural and remote nursing after I graduate and I have already spent a lot of time in the NT,” she says. “ I volunteered a lot of my time through Primary Health Network Northern Territory and also the Indigenous Allied Health Australia, spending time out in their communities. I think it’s very important to be closing the gap and this is a place that I don’t think has enough funding or people to help.

“Nursing is just such a great way to communicate with people and hear their story and contribute to their lives. I love that nursing is becoming more holistic – it’s not just about medication, it’s ‘what can we do for you, what do you need, how can we help you be the healthiest person you can be?’. We’re looking at the big picture of nursing and I think it’s really cool to be part of this changing workplace atmosphere.

“Paramedicine is also wonderful because it’s different every day. People are calling you for help at their most vulnerable point – it’s really humbling to do what we do.”

Ketisha grew up in regional Western Australia, and as the eldest of four girls initially thought she was destined for a research career.

“I did a neuroscience degree in WA and was planning to research Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease, but I decided I needed to be more hands on and help people in my community,” she says.

“I chose QUT’s double degree in nursing and paramedic science because I need a lot of variety and stimulation, but it was really the Oodgeroo Unit (QUT’s Indigenous Support Unit) that sealed the deal for me. The amount of support they offered their students was amazing. Moving from WA I didn’t know a single soul but the Oodgeroo Unit welcomed me with open arms and I have been part of that big beautiful mob ever since.”

In addition to studying, Ketisha also works in retail, does tutoring, is a first aid officer for a netball club and even conducts weddings, having been a marriage celebrant for the past five years.

“The scholarship is going to be so much help for me financially because as we have to pay our own travel costs for the practical placements, this will mean I can dedicate more time to my studies and placements,” she says.

Leilani, 23, will gain six weeks of extra nursing experience at a Brisbane hospital this semester and also head out to a western Queensland ambulance station for six weeks experience.

Growing up in Cairns but moving back to Brisbane in 2017 to start at QUT as a mature age student, Leilani says she went back to Cairns last year as a student ambassador and had the opportunity to talk at a careers expo with students from her old school, Cairns State High.

“I hadn’t thought university was an achievable goal because of the difficulty of moving away from my strong family and community connections in Cairns,” she says.

“This is something I know a lot of indigenous kids struggle with.  But the Oodgeroo Unit became my home away from home.  The sense of community that they have built here at QUT is the reason I'm here four years later and about to graduate university.

“So at the Cairns expo, I spoke about QUT and the pathways school students could take. 

“We all have different stories and different journeys and to be able to pass that on to someone else who might one day get to experience uni is a real benefit – and hopefully makes it easier for them.

“For me, one of the best things has been getting to know the people who work at QUT and benefiting from their experience,” says Leilani. “I also knew that they had paramedic simulation rooms and practical experiences for nursing and I’m a very hands-on learner. “I think having that double degree opens up job prospects.

“If I go into nursing after I graduate, I’m hoping to get a graduate position in a rural/regional area where there’s a lot of variety and responsibility.”

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