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Making Health Better
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Volunteer Jackie inspires next generation

Dr Jackie Stuart is committed to donating her time and efforts to primary care education and the training of primary care providers.

Graduating from Dentistry at the University of Queensland in 1986, Jackie practiced as a general dental practitioner in Mackay for 28 years.

After being diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012, Jackie developed a condition called peripheral neuropathy, which is a common side effect of extended chemotherapy sessions.

This caused Jackie to permanently lose feeling in her hands and feet, preventing her from continuing her work as a dental practitioner.

Instead of accepting the fact that she could no longer do her part in the industry, Jackie used her hardship as motivation and strived to find a way in which she could use her knowledge to the advantage of others.

“Being who I am, I was not content to only suggest solutions to the problems found in my research, but I also needed to actually “make a difference” and thus my voluntary role as a lecturer has developed,” Jackie said.

Jackie currently volunteers her time as a lecturer to present to general medical practitioners, pharmacists, and all allied health professionals including speech pathologists, occupational therapists, nurses, aged care providers, and drug and
alcohol counsellors.

“After my diagnosis, I have my energies focused on giving back to the community,” she said.

Dr Stuart has volunteered her time to be involved in many of Northern Queensland Primary Health Network’s training events, travelling all around the region from Mackay, Townsville, and Cairns to passionately deliver education and knowledge to general medical practitioners.

Jackie has now embarked on a PhD project with the topic being “The relationship between the primary care network and dental practitioners and the applications for technology.”

The findings from this research project have found that primary healthcare providers are often faced with patients with emergency dental presentations, and these non-dental health care providers are often ill equipped to deal with these issues.

This type of dental education program for nondental professionals has not been delivered before, and Jackie seems to have found a definite gap that, with the help of NQPHN, can be addressed in the education of these important healthcare providers.

At myPHN Conference 2016, Dr Stuart was awarded the NQPHN Dentist of the Year award for the endless time and effort she has contributed to truly make a difference in dental education in North Queensland.