Feature

RACGP awards: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health


Paul Hayes


10/10/2018 7:53:14 PM

Dr Casey Kalsi and Dr Kishan Pandithage have been honoured in the 2018 RACGP awards.

L–R: Dr Casey Kalsi has been named winner of the 2018 Growing Strong Award; Dr Kishan Pandithage has been named winner of the 2018 Standing Strong Together Award.
L–R: Dr Casey Kalsi has been named winner of the 2018 Growing Strong Award; Dr Kishan Pandithage has been named winner of the 2018 Standing Strong Together Award.

The RACGP announced the winners of the 2018 RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Growing Strong Award and Standing Strong Together Award at the GP18 National Academic Fellowship and Awards Ceremony.
 
Growing Strong Award
It could be said that Dr Casey Kalsi came to medicine from the opposite direction than most.
 
‘I was a primary school teacher before I became a doctor,’ she told newsGP. ‘It wasn’t until I was a multi-trauma patient after being hit off my bicycle by a van and spending an extended period of time in hospital and rehabilitation that I decided to become a doctor.’
 
A general practice registrar in Queensland, Dr Kalsi believes healthcare and education go hand-in-hand, and her experience as a teacher has been useful during her life in medicine.
 
‘General practice allows me combine my teaching background with medicine and educate my patients on their own bodies and health to achieve better outcomes,’ she said.
 
This educational process, she said, is a two-way street.
 
‘I love learning from my patients every day,’ Dr Kalsi said.
 
When reflecting on winning the RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Growing Strong Award, which was established to support Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander general practice registrars in their early career, Dr Kalsi is clear on its importance for her – personally and professionally.
 
‘Winning this award means I am able to ... be inspired by my Indigenous and non-Indigenous Elders as they speak about this wonderful discipline of medicine that I am so passionate about,’ she said.
 
‘My true motivation comes from my family and ancestors, the people who have come before me, and my children, the people who come after me.’
 
Standing Strong Together Award
Dr Kishan Pandithage does not take his career in general practice for granted.
 
A GP and medical educator in the Northern Territory, Dr Pandithage considers much of his work a privilege, especially given he did not initially even see himself in general practice.
 
‘I graduated from the University of Adelaide at a time when students received minimal exposure to general practice; in an atmosphere where you should not even consider GP land if you were excelling in your studies,’ he told newsGP.
 
‘Fortunately, I had the privilege of working with a wonderful country GP in Kingston – Big Lobster country – in the south-east of South Australia, during my fifth-year GP attachment. That’s when the fundamental seeds were planted.
 
‘Several years later, I visited Darwin to take a break from a specialty program that I was jaded with and met Dr Sam Heard. Sam inspired me to take the challenge of general practice and I have never looked back since.’
 
Never looking back and embracing life in general practice culminated in Dr Pandithage being named the 2018 recipient of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Standing Strong Together Award. The award is given to an RACGP Fellow, member or an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person who has ‘contributed to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’.
 
‘To me, this award is a confirmation of the privilege I have had in contributing to the education of Indigenous students and doctors for more than a decade now,’ Dr Pandithage. ‘Over this time they have become family to me and it has been a great pleasure to watch them grow.’
 
When reflecting on his career, Dr Pandithage was struck by what appeals to him about the profession that has given him so much.
 
‘I love the challenges general practice brings, as well as the ongoing mutually respectful partnerships we are able to build with our patients and their families,’ he said.
 
‘Our society is full of many specialists for differing focal areas and it lacks the holistic benefits that generalists bring to patient care.’



GP18 growing strong award RACGP awards standing strong together award





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