For more than a decade, medical schools in Australia have had defined standards and guidelines to follow in implementing their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health curriculum. However, like many other medical schools, Bond University struggled to implement these professional standards and guidelines into its curriculum (Phillips 2004; AMC 2012; RACGP 2011).
In 2011, Bond commenced the renewal of its Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) curriculum and developed an innovative Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health program that is now fully integrated into the first three years of the undergraduate medical program. The First Year program focuses on ‘building awareness’ (Smith 2013), and the Second Year on ‘respecting difference’, with students undertaking three one-week cases that are identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander focused (Smith 2013). Third Year looks at ‘building resilience’, and contains a significant component of social and emotional wellbeing content and a challenging discussion about racism (Smith 2013). The role of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services is included to enable students to understand different models of care and services offered.
This case study focuses on using cultural immersion as part of the First Year of this integrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health curriculum.