Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
I went to medical school at the University of Queensland, then did my paediatric training at Sydney Children's Hospital. That is where I developed an interest in paediatric oncology, and went on to fellow training at the Kids Cancer Centre at SCH. I then pursued further training overseas, spending two years in the United States learning about Bone Marrow Transplantation, at the University of Minnesota and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre.
What is your current role?
I am currently working as a research fellow in the Behavioural Science Unit, as study coordinator on a project looking at communication between clinicians and families at the time of cancer relapse. As new treatments in paediatric cancer are developed, early phase clinical trials need to be conducted to demonstrate safety and efficacy. We are studying how patients are enrolled on these trials, in an attempt to find the best way to communicate and engage with families, while ensuring their practical and emotional concerns are cared for at the same time.
What are the ‘best’ parts of your current role?
It is very interesting to view the interaction between clinicians and families from a third party point of view. It provides great perspective and insight into families’ perspectives that would otherwise be difficult to appreciate when working as their clinician. These insights have already influenced my own clinical practice.
What are the most challenging parts of your current role?
Dealing with relapse in paediatric cancer is always challenging as it is a very difficult time for the families. Interacting with the family at this time requires great sensitivity and empathy, and it is important to ensure any research takes a back-seat to helping the family through this difficult time in their treatment.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I aim to be working as a specialist in paediatric oncology, doing both clinical work and conducting qualitative and quantitative research in a range of areas.
What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow a similar path in terms of their study/career?
The most important thing is to find your area of interest, and pursue it. Any career in paediatric oncology requires a lot of work, and you need to be passionate about the topic to ensure you are going to enjoy the work you do. I would also advise taking the opportunity to explore different work environments, both locally and overseas. The more exposure you get to different environments helps broaden the mind, and provides ideas that you might not otherwise think of if you always work in the same place.