NT’s first home-grown paramedics

Flinders University is celebrating its first paramedicine graduates in the Northern Territory (NT), leading a cohort of 20 aspiring paramedics seeking to qualify over the next two years and provide a welcome boost to frontline ambulance services across the Territory.

The four new paramedics are among 33 students graduating from the Class of 2023, alongside 22 medical students and seven students who will graduate as social workers, midwives, child and family health nurses, diabetes nurses, educators, and public health professionals.

Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling says the University’s leadership in offering the paramedicine course reflects its deep commitment to rural and remote health.

“For more than 25 years, Flinders has been a part of the Territory, delivering courses developed in the NT, for the NT,” Professor Stirling says.

“In partnership with communities, we’ve adapted and innovated to ensure our students have the opportunity to study in areas of demand. This is especially true of our paramedicine offering, which is proudly graduating NT’s first homegrown paramedics.

“We know that students who study in a rural setting are more than three times as likely to choose to work in rural areas. By graduating doctors, paramedics and health professionals in the Territory, we’re empowering people to make a difference in their communities and contribute to healthier lives.

“It’s why we’re determined to remain a national leader in producing rural health professionals who are exceptionally prepared for the challenges and rewards of rural and remote practice,” Professor Stirling says.

According to the latest data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the NT has the lowest number of paramedics per 100,000 population in Australia, with only 57.8 paramedics compared to the national average of 97.9. Flinders University’s paramedicine course aims to address this gap by training local students who are familiar with the unique needs and context of the NT.

Emily Kowalewycz and Professor Robyn Aitken

Professor Robyn Aitken, Flinders University’s Dean of Rural and Remote Health says the University’s healthcare graduates are not only skilled and knowledgeable but are also trained specifically for NT context with an emphasis on cultural safety. They are well-equipped to meet the diverse and complex health needs of the people in the Territory and beyond.

“Taught from campuses in Darwin, Nhulunbuy, Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and more remote sites and homelands, the internationally recognised Doctor of Medicine is enriched by collaboration with the traditional owners of these lands including Larrakia, Yolngu, Jawoyn, Wardaman, Dagoman, Warumungu land and Arrernte people. Priority entry is given to Northern Territory residents and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she says.

“These graduates will mean that more than 200 students have graduated from the Northern Territory Medical Program, the majority continuing to live and work in the Territory, contributing to improve the health of all Northern Territorians.

“I congratulate our inaugural cohort of paramedicine graduates in the NT – who will be providing much needed support for local health services and who should be very proud of their achievements,” Professor Aitken says.

Graduating with a Bachelor of Paramedicine this year, Storm Young

Graduating with a Bachelor of Paramedicine this year, Storm Young says the course was the first step in what she hopes will be a lifelong career in health.

“Growing up in a small rural town where volunteers, including my mum, played a vital role in community wellbeing instilled a deep respect and love for first responders. Paramedicine is exciting because it’s a dynamic and ever-evolving profession that’s vital for community health,” says Ms Young.

“The hands-on, practical components of my studies have been particularly exciting. Clinical placements have been invaluable in bridging the gap between theory and real-world application. These experiences have allowed me to put into practice what I’ve learned in the classroom, further enhancing my skills and confidence,” she says.

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College of Medicine and Public Health Flinders NT Flinders Rural and Remote Health