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 they were looking to build upon. I also knew that I was six months into my medical degree and knew nothing, so attending was frightening. 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 on compassion, acceptance and improvement. At a glance, these things might seem obvious; in health care, these are expected but addressing 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 constantly interlinked 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, and 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 crucial 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 patient’s final outcome 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 seeking improvement and growth where ever possible. And finally, be respectful and accepting of everyone regardless of whether you agree or 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 my work in the years to come. A huge thank you to the Don’t Forget the Bubbles team for allowing me to attend and invest in Indigenous health.