FOR the first time this year brothers Joe and Patrick Ryan will head to the Northern Territory together during their semester break while studying for their respective dentistry degrees, to work with Aboriginal communities in remote parts of the Northern Territory.
Two weeks ago Patrick Ryan,19, joined his older brother Joe on campus at Charles Sturt University where Patrick is in his first year of his degree, and Joe in his fourth year.
The brothers were inspired to study dentistry from their Canberra -based dentist father who the brothers say has been their role model throughout their lives.
Following in the footsteps of his older brother, Patrick has decided to spend his first year living on campus.
“When we were growing up dad was always happy in his work and when he came home to spend time with us as a family, and it is a profession I thought would be worthwhile pursuing,” said Joe.
Joe said it was working alongside his father treating Aboriginal families in remote communities in the Northern Territory as part of a volunteer medical scheme set up by the late Aboriginal leader Charles Perkins, which helped him acquire a passion to pursue dentistry.
“I was in year 8 when I first went there helping dad.
‘I couldn’t believe the difference it could make in people’s lives - people for example who had really bad abscesses and who just expected to keep living with pain - it was as though poor dental health was a normal part of life,” Joe said.
It wasn’t until year 10 that Patrick made his first trip to the Northern Territory to assist his father.
“I couldn’t get over seeing the amount of Coca Cola and cigarette butts in the waiting room.
“For me it was a real eye-opener to see this was all about educating people about dental health as well,” Patrick said.
Joe has coached the campus rugby team for the last two years and Patrick is hoping to secure a spot in the campus team on the wing this year.
The brothers say studying in Orange has given them a connection to work in the country when they complete their dentistry studies.