The annual scholarship was created to honour the life and work of Dr Lesley Shorne (BA ’81, BMBS ’84), a leading South Australian forensic examiner and pioneer of cervical screening, who achieved significant improvements for women in the medical and legal processes relating to sexual assault.
Dr Shorne was an advocate for the advancement of women, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. She was a keen campaigner for their rights and for their health and worked to develop women’s health training programs.
Dr Sinh says she shares Dr Shorne’s values.
"Advocating for the rights of people within minority communities, particularly women, is something I am very passionate about and is the reason I applied for medical school."
With this scholarship support and driven by her passion, Dr Sinh moved to Alice Springs for a six-month placement at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, a community-controlled health organisation.
She says, “At Congress I had the chance to learn how to better practice culturally safe medicine and to shift my idea of what health means outside of a Western context.”
During this time Dr Sinh also had the opportunity to spend time at the Alukura Women’s Health Service, a centre dedicated to supporting Indigenous women and babies where she learnt about the unique challenges Indigenous women face.
“Women in Central Australia are particularly vulnerable due to the difficulty in accessing health care because of geographical isolation. They are also subject to some of the highest rates of domestic violence nationally.”
Keen to deepen her knowledge and provide care in First Nations communities Dr Sinh wanted to stay on in the Northern Territory for further placements – but she found supporting herself without a regular part-time job was difficult.
“Being a student can be a very financially vulnerable time. A lot of people are forced to work multiple jobs, do unpaid internships or placements, or take out loans.”
“I was originally working full-time during uni holidays, but it became more and more difficult to work as I advanced through my medical degree and was required to complete full-time unpaid placements to expand my skills.”
Dr Sinh received a Matthew Flinders Scholarship for students in financial need, which gave her the boost she needed to immerse herself in further placement opportunities.
“It enabled me to do further medical placements in Darwin, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Santa Teresa.”
“Within these communities lies some of the poorest health outcomes in Australia. Common conditions such as rheumatic heart disease, trachoma and post-streptococcus glomerulonephritis are common in these communities – while incredibly rare, if not completely non-existent in major centres across Australia.”
Grateful for the opportunities she’s been able to realise through the Dr Lesley Shorne Memorial Scholarship and the Matthew Flinders Scholarship, Dr Sinh says, “Having the support of these scholarships helped me immensely - not only being able to get through my degree, but also in being able to pursue areas of medicine that interest me.
“The enormity of being able to learn from all these different environments has not worn off on me and it was during this time that I fell in love with Alice Springs and the reason I’m now doing my medical internship here.”
On the verge of finishing her internship, Dr Sinh is considering her area of speciality and her next move but knows that her time in the NT has changed her.
“I feel very strongly that these experiences will continue to be incredibly formative for my career, no matter which pathway I go down.”
Scholarship support created a new trajectory for Dr Vanshika Sinh’s career and her life. Donate today to change a student’s life through the Matthew Flinders Scholarship.
100% of your donation will support students in financial need through the Matthew Flinders Scholarship.