Elki McIntyre. A medical student’s reflection on DFTB17, Don't Forget the Bubbles, 2017. Available at:
Having the opportunity to attend the Don’t Forget the Bubbles conference as a first-year Indigenous medical student, I had no idea what to expect but I was excited and nervous regardless. I knew there would be a wide range of medical professionals with an array of knowledge which they were looking to build upon. I also knew that I was 6 months into my medical degree and knew essentially nothing, so attending was a frightening prospect to say the least. Once the conference started however, I realised that perhaps I wasn’t quite as out of my depth as I thought and ended up walking away having gained much to carry with me.
The main themes that stood out and stuck with me focused heavily upon compassion, acceptance and improvement. At a glance, these things might seem obvious, in health care these are expected, but the addressing of underlying issues regarding behaviours and beliefs and how they affect your work is really what stood out to me. Over the conference, these ideas weren’t stand-alone take home messages, they interlinked constantly. From hearing about the effects of being compassionate towards colleagues to the importance of acceptance of all people in a respectful way, to the continuous change and growth in medicine. The re-enforcement of the importance of improvement, compassion, acceptance was constant.
The main things I took away with me from the conference stemmed from these points. I understood to a greater extent that failure is common and completely okay, it is a part of working in health care. Failing does not make you a failure. On that note, it’s also key to ask for help when you need it; you’re not a bad doctor for needing help too. Be kind to patients and colleagues alike not just because the final outcome of the patient can be affected but because it’s the right thing to do. Medicine is tough enough emotional and mentally as it is, there’s no need to be uncompassionate. Utilise technology and the internet to enhance your teaching and learning and continue to seek out improvement and growth where ever possible. And finally, be respectful and accepting of everyone regardless of whether you agree of disagree with aspects of their lives, everyone deserves to be respected and treated equally.
Although I won’t necessarily be able to apply much of this for a few years yet, having the chance to be exposed to this side of paediatrics and medicine in such a unique environment and gain so much so early in my career is something I’m beyond grateful for. I know this experience will shape my studies, and in the years to come my work. A huge thank you to the Don’t Forget the Bubbles team for giving me the opportunity to attend and for investing in Indigenous health.