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Natural Health Heroes: When Alana Gall realised health research was right for her

Written by Endeavour College of Natural Health | Thursday, 7 May 2020

natural health heroes

As a child in Tasmania, health researcher Alana Gall learnt about organic veggies and the use of plants as medicine long before it was fashionable. It may have easily led to a career in natural health, but the path wasn’t straightforward.

“My father is Aboriginal and hunted kangaroos and snakes, teaching us about our culture without us realising it. It was just part of life,” she said. “My mother had an incredible way of helping us to learn. Thankfully so, because our experience at school as Aboriginal children did nothing to reveal our potential.”

Disillusioned with mainstream education, Alana left school before finishing and worked in a wide variety of jobs. However, she craved a career she could love, so she researched places that offered Naturopathy degrees. She chose Endeavour as they were known internationally for the quality of their degrees. In 2008, she enrolled in Naturopathy. However, “…after two and a half years of studying, while also working and raising my daughter on my own, I couldn’t afford to continue. Thankfully during that time, Professor Jon Wardle, one of my lecturers, introduced me to the world of ‘research.’ I realised that through research, I could help many people at once.”

Alana found an administration position at the Lowitja Institute. Through this work, she got to know Menzies School of Health Research and, after the 2011 Brisbane floods, she accepted a full-time position there. “I thank Endeavour for teaching me how to research for assignments because it helped me land my first job as a research assistant.”

To progress in research, Alana needed a degree. When Professor Gail Garvey offered Alana a cadetship, it meant she could return to Endeavour. “This time, I chose Nutritional Medicine because it was more widely accepted outside of complementary medicine.”

“With Endeavour’s small class sizes, I got to know my classmates and lecturers, and we’ve stayed in touch since, working together on some projects,” Alana said. “It made such a difference to have lecturers who had real-world experience, especially in the student clinic.”

Alana knew she wanted to pursue research that highlighted the need to integrate complementary medicine with Western medicine. After she graduated from Endeavour, Alana completed a Masters by Research. Her findings of Indigenous peoples’ use of complementary medicine while receiving cancer treatment are internationally published.

She has also investigated the experience of health providers and that of Indigenous women with gynaecological cancer – a project that Endeavour supported with seed funding. Alana has completed literature reviews of complementary medicine use and diabetes and about the 2009 pandemic, where Indigenous Australians were disproportionally impacted (not yet published).

Alana is currently working and completing a PhD at Menzies as part of the What Matters project – a research project aimed at developing a wellbeing assessment tool for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Research suits me, it’s so varied, and I’m always learning,” Alana said.” If you think it’s for you, don’t wait to graduate. Get your foot in the door and see what it’s really like.”

Natural Health Heroes

Natural Health Heroes celebrates the wellness journeys of our alumni. From where they began to where they are today, we showcase our alumni’s unique stories, experiences and successes.

Interested in reading more Natural Health Heroes stories? Head here for more.

Endeavour College of Natural Health

Endeavour College of Natural Health is Australia's largest Higher Education provider of natural medicine courses.

The College is known as the centre of excellence for natural medicine and is respected for its internationally recognised academic teams and high calibre graduates. Endeavour offers Bachelor of Health Science degrees in Naturopathy, Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine, Acupuncture Therapies and Chinese Medicine, Undergraduate Certificates, a Diploma of Health Science and massage courses.

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