Rocking up to an event consisting mostly of well-dressed medical students (I was later told most of them had come from placements, and not *everyone* was actually doing med) can be intimidating and uncomfortable, especially with the thought of being the odd one out and not knowing anyone when it seems everyone else does. But I've been thoroughly enjoying the chance to get to meet a great bunch of people, eat free food and wrap my head around some of the bigger global issues which are not talked about in schools or uni and definitely not thought about when you're caught up in the daily grind.
There's a saying about how small minds discuss people, average minds discuss events and great minds discuss ideas. In the spirit of the Internet age I will freely advertise that it is not my quote; with a quick Google search it appears to be attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. Large minds discuss ideas. The big ideas. And with those ideas comes the all-important evidence base which is the bane of every assignment-writing student's existence. For me personally, Torque has been a chance to actually appreciate the value of a wide and deep knowledge base when it comes to those easily overlooked global issues, and along with that foundation of knowledge comes a passion for the issues brought to light. An appreciation, perhaps. And they're easily and commonly overlooked issues. I'm certainly guilty of literally saying "pfft, I don't really care about sustainability but if I show up to these few lectures I'll get a certificate and it'll look great on my resume!" But taking an hour or two to dive under the surface of health-related issues has really given me a chance to open my mind and think. Explore ideas. Discuss concepts that are much more interesting than myself.
As a practising nurse or paramedic, the big ideas of global health may not change whether I give a prescribed treatment or which line of patient management I go down, since a lot of decision making is based on clinical markers in the immediate presenting patient. But the broad ideas which I have been privileged to start exploring do give me some new perspectives from which to view situations, and will also give me insight to the stereotypes and apparent patterns which emerge in patients. For example, the frustration of language barriers can be offset by an understanding of some reasons many non-English-speaking people immigrate to Australia, and issues around Aboriginal health need to be well understood before becoming personally irritated by their apparently self-inflicted poor health. Additionally, there is great room for improvement in the sustainability of paramedic and other healthcare practise. While the day-to-day sustainability problems might be as simple as disposing of pieces of equipment after one use (for example tourniquets in hospitals), there are broad aspects of sustainability which will also need to be addressed in the near future, including how on earth we can have vehicles equipped to manage a cardiac arrest dispatched to ambulance calls for a sore finger. All through my career(s) I'm sure I could get along just fine without thinking about these global health issues - but I'm certain that my personal and professional development will be much better off for taking the time to understand them.
While Torque isn't about pouring your loose change into a tub to feed children in Africa, or even organizing events to start schools in Cambodia, the value of just spending some time thinking, discussing and educating yourself about real world issues is absolutely underrated. Education is the key to the future, is it not?
Emily Carver is a final year Nursing/Emergency Health student who is ever so enthusiastic about graduating to the clinical world and eventually becoming a paramedic.