A former police officer and industrial paramedic who wants to help improve the health of Aboriginal people has won the AMA Indigenous Peoples' Medical Scholarship for 2009.
Terry Morich, who celebrated his 44th birthday today, was awarded the scholarship by AMA Federal President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua.
AdvertisementValued at $9,000 for each year of study, the scholarship provides support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying medicine.
The scholarship was established in 1995 with the help of the Department of Health and Ageing and has received the support of the Reuben Pelerman Benevolent Foundation.
Mr Morich, a fourth year medical student at the University of Western Australia, plans to work as a General Practitioner.
"I chose to study medicine because there aren't enough Indigenous doctors within our community," he said.
"Many Aboriginal people are more likely to seek medical advice at an early stage of an illness instead of delaying treatment if they can see an Aboriginal doctor.
"There are more Aboriginal women studying medicine than men. Increasing the number of male doctors will encourage more Aboriginal men to seek medical advice and treatment."
Mr Morich is married with two teenage children. He served in the Western Australia Police Service from 1983 - 1994. He has also worked as an industrial paramedic on a remote mining site.
Dr Capolingua said the scholarship was designed to encourage and support Indigenous students who were preparing for careers in medicine, particularly in Aboriginal health.
"There are currently 130 Indigenous doctors in Australia and the same number of Indigenous medical students," Dr Capolingua said.
"Assisting Indigenous medical students to complete their studies and serve the community is a positive step toward closing the 17-year life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students."