Life milestones such as graduating from medical school and becoming a father for the first time are special moments – cherished and remembered forever. But if your first born arrived in the middle of your university medical studies and your dad, a role model and hero to you, would never see you graduate, it’s fair to say you may well be stopped in your tracks.
AIDA member Dr Glenn Harrison, an Emergency Physician of 12 years, speaks with fond memories and a mature sense of perspective when he shared his real-life moments with Ward Round. “Dad was sick in my final year of medicine and died three weeks before I graduated. I sort of lost my way and was in the wilderness after this. I was the only sibling of three who went to university, so to graduate as a doctor was a big thing to everyone, especially my dad.”
Despite this personal tragedy, Glenn smiles when recounting the birth of his first son as a young medical student to his then girlfriend and now wife Angela. “It was hard and obviously not a common thing as a uni student. I had exams
to worry about, not nappies. But it turned out well. We used our term breaks to spend time as a family and I’m glad we had kids young.”
What kept Glenn focussed was his passion and love of emergency medicine, and his strong identity as a Wotjobaluk man from the Wimmera region in Victoria. “Being Indigenous, I find I have strong awareness and respect of others cultures. In many ways, I find myself a minnow in a big pond,” said Glenn.
Since graduating in 1995 from Melbourne University, Glenn has spent his medical career practising in emergency medicine. Primarily based at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Glenn has been heavily involved in driving initiatives at the Hospital that target Indigenous medical students and doctors. He speaks with pride of the Hospital, which now employs four Indigenous doctors compared to only one some 15 years ago. “We encourage final year medical students to experience a specialist field at the Hospital. I particularly encourage Indigenous doctors to consider a specialist field. I’d like to see more Indigenous doctors working in this space,” said Glenn.
With medical leaders like Glenn demonstrating strength, resilience and commitment to closing the gap, our future Indigenous doctors are in good hands.