Inspiring young man on the right path to career in nursing
NINETEEN year-old George Johnson is on a mission to inspire others to step into the Aboriginal health industry.
Working full-time as a junior health worker at Bullinah Aboriginal Health Service, the young Ballina man has come full circle in his current role.
"I did work experience here at Bullinah in Year 10,” Mr Johnson said.
"I saw what we were doing here and I thought it would be really good to get out and help with the aboriginal community here.
"I am full Aboriginal so I realise there is a massive need for Aboriginal health workers in general, but especially male ones and I enjoy being able to help people.”
While completing his high school certificate in 2016 and 2017 at Southern Cross High School in Ballina, Mr Johnson also completed a Certificate II in Community Pharmacy at TAFE NSW Lismore as a school-based trainee, with host employer Blooms the Chemist in Ballina Fair.
"Juggling TAFE and high school all at once was difficult,” he said.
"But I did it in a way, so I didn't burn out.
"School isn't everything ... there are a lot of other options and back doors into Uni, TAFE is a great option. If you don't feel like you should be in school, find something else because if you find something you are passionate about it doesn't feel like work.”
In his current role, Mr Johnson helps to run things like a suicide prevention programs, outreach programs and attends schools to do health checks.
"I love the clinical side of my job,” he said.
"It's really interesting to see how the body works.
"Having that sort of experience around the community will help me get a lot more recognition and be a positive role model for younger aboriginal people ... maybe I will inspire them too.”
Mr Johnson's commitment to the industry was recognised in 2017 when he won the Monty Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year Award at the TAFE NSW Lismore Student Awards.
"Winning that was amazing,” he said.
"It really motivated me to work harder.”
Mr Johnson is now focussing on his Certificate III in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care with Aboriginal Pathways in Primary Health Centre of Excellence in TAFE NSW Port Macquarie, but his end goal is to become a Nurse in Aboriginal Health.
"I'm gaining my clinical hours at here Bullinah at the same time as studying,” he said.
"Next year I'd like to continue with a Certificate IV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care and then maybe look at a Diploma, while I keep working at Bullinah. Then I want to become a registered Aboriginal health practitioner with my own Medicare number and then do nursing at uni.”