December 23, 2021

Erin Edwards: Allied Health Aboriginal Cadetship

The Aboriginal Cadet program is an opportunity for allied health students who identify as Aboriginal to work with the allied health team to develop key clinical skills around patient interactions and to develop an understanding of working within the public health network.

Kym Patterson, Associate Director, Allied Health says, “Cadetships are a valued way for Aboriginal students to gain exposure to a health service as an employee and to build their confidence and knowledge.”

One such student is Erin Edwards, a proud Gunditjmara woman. Here’s what she has to say:

“Given COVID restrictions and everything, placements were limited so having another opportunity to get hands on experience was so valuable in improving my confidence and growth to hopefully become a better clinician and implement skills in my future practice of Audiology.”

“I was lucky enough to get experience not only in Audiology at Northern Health but also experience in other areas of Allied Health within a hospital setting and observing how they all overlap and work together in a busy setting.”

She believes that the program helped in, “increasing my confidence and communicating with clients, besides developing my professional teamwork skills.”

“I was fortunate enough to spend most of my time at Northern Health with the Speech Pathology department, who have been so encouraging and supportive. Even though I wasn’t studying speech pathology, I was able to gain more experience by engaging with clients from all different backgrounds which is vital for Allied Health professions.”

“Definitely working in such a great team has made this experience special,” she adds.

As Kym explains, “Cadetships are a valued way for Aboriginal students to gain exposure to a health service as an employee and to build their confidence and knowledge. The Cadetship Program offers additional support to Aboriginal students undertaking their final years of undergraduate study and contributes to a culturally safe and respectful working environment. “

“We hope this encourages the successful transition of Aboriginal cadets into a transition to practice program and provides a culturally safe workplace for Aboriginal students.”

As for Erin, Kym says, “Erin has been a really keen and active learner during her time with us in Allied Health. Initially we wanted to provide Erin with quite a broad experience, across a number of professions. This was quite clunky, due to COVID-19 and restrictions on staff movement. We then offered Erin an opportunity to consolidate the AHA Cadetship to Speech Pathology and Audiology. This would allow Erin to complete competencies within speech pathology and provide consistent patient contact to enable her to see how her work effects the patient journey and to provide real tangible skills and the end of the cadetship.

“Erin embraced this opportunity and really developed a great working relationship with the sub-acute speech pathology team and her patients. Her Audiology skills were able to translate to this communication setting, where she was able to see the importance of communication in a broader context.”

Erin is clear, “I would definitely recommend this program to others. I was hesitant at the start as I had never worked in a hospital setting or considered the prospect but I am so glad I took a chance to explore this opportunity and determine which areas of work I want to do in the future.”