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Amazing response to Dr YES

Monday December 9, 2019

Every year, the AMA (WA)’s award-winning Dr YES program engages with around 10,000 students at metropolitan and rural schools in Western Australia. Our medical student volunteers are trained in delivering harm minimisation sessions on issues concerning youth health such as drugs and alcohol, sexual health and mental health. The AMA (WA) Medicus magazine often publishes articles and stories from the volunteers themselves, informing readers of their activities and experiences. This time around, we hear from the other side – from a teacher at a school visited by Dr YES, who tells us of the impact the sessions had on the students at Karratha Senior High School.

Q&A with Amie Prout, Health and Physical Education Teacher Year 11 Coordinator Karratha Senior High School

Q: What feedback did you receive from students following the Dr YES visit?

AP: The students reported the sessions as being very interactive and that the staff who ran them were fun and engaging. They said that it was the best thing they could have done when being pulled out of a PE lesson. Students thought it was great hearing those key messages from a non-teacher and younger person.

Q: Has staff provided any feedback on students’ behaviour since the session?

AP: The staff were amazed at how responsive the students were to Dr YES. We can have a tough bunch of kids who take a while to warm up to new people and can be hard to involve in activities. That said, the Dr YES staff had the kids engaged from the get go. The small groups were a great idea and it was encouraging to see Dr YES discussing various points with the students to gain more in-depth answers.

Q: Do you believe the sessions assisted in discovering any previously unknown issues experienced by the students?

AP: I think the students were much more responsive and probably gave answers that they normally wouldn’t have. However, I am unsure if there were things that haven’t been discussed with the student wellbeing team.

Q:Are there any particular topics that you would like discussed during a Dr YES session?

AP: Healthy relationships and the age of consent in regard to sex. I have had a number of questions in classes lately (e.g: What if they are both under 16? What if one person is over 18 and one is 16?).

Q: Do you see the value of the Dr YES session and would you recommend it to other schools?

AP: Yes, I believe any involvement from outside agencies is important as it gives students the opportunity to engage with other people. Students don’t always listen to their teachers so having other people talk about these issues with them is crucial. Even if it only helps one or two students, at least it will have a positive impact. I would also like to reiterate how responsive students were to the Dr YES staff. This was an awesome way for our kids to hear from educated younger adults. They were very engaged.