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I have to admit that when attending Deakin University I was unsure as to what Career Path I wished to follow. All I knew was that I loved Biology, and that you should always follow the path that takes you in the direction of the things you love. I kept my options open and studied a wide variety of subjects available in the Bachelor of Science (Biology) field.
Upon completing my degree I still thought that I would like to gain employment in a scientific discipline, but was unsure about what specific area in which to begin my career. I approached an IVF laboratory in Albury NSW in order to gain some work experience in a laboratory setting and perhaps convince myself that I would come to enjoy laboratory based Science work (never my favourite at University!).
After two weeks of work experience I was fortunate enough to be offered a traineeship with Reproductive Medicine Albury. I worked hard for RMA for the next three years, working in both Albury and Wagga Wagga, before following a dream of a working holiday VISA in the UK.
I applied for, and was successful in gaining, a position with The London Fertility Centre under the IVF pioneer, Professor Ian Craft. This three year experience was invaluable as it gave me experience in a foreign country as well as experience in a very busy clinic operating under a heavily regulated IVF system. That regulated system was to become the template for IVF regulation in Victoria just a few years later.
Whilst in London I was contacted again by RMA as to whether I would consider moving home to be a part of a new IVF clinic beginning in Ballarat, Victoria. I immediately accepted the challenge, and I moved home to Australia to open a new laboratory.
This opportunity gave me a greater understanding of how a laboratory operates, and how it interacts with other parts of the community. It also “forced” me to keep up to date with developments in IVF science both here and overseas, as we were committed to providing a service that was world-class in regional Victoria. I also gained invaluable managerial experience, with my scientific team beginning with one (me!) in 2002 and numbering four staff in 2010. Ballarat IVF has now become one of the most successful Regional IVF Clinics in Australia, and provides world class IVF services and delivers world class results.
A typical day at work for me involves working closely with Doctor’s, nurses and our IVF patients. We are involved in the Hospital procedures to “harvest” eggs, and later in the day we use various methodologies to create embryos. We then observe the progress of the embryos over several days before choosing the best embryo for transfer back in to the female patient. Our role is to provide strict quality control to the IVF processes, and also to provide information to the Doctor’s and our patients regarding their embryos. The scientists really do play a crucial role in the IVF process.
So, I have to say, after fourteen years and stints in both Australia and the UK, I still love my laboratory based job as much as those first two weeks of work experience!
My chosen career has allowed me to be involved in a dynamic scientific field that provides hope and joy for many people. It is a very rewarding career!!
My advice to any Deakin University student wishing to start a career in Science is to enjoy what you do! It is so important that you find a career path that you enjoy. Persistence is crucial to starting any career. Volunteer for work experience, knock on doors, and do whatever you can to get your foot in the door. Eventually someone will give you that opportunity, and when you get it…………GO FOR IT!!!!!