My final undergraduate year at ANU was 1982, and came out looking for work just in time for the 1982-83 recession. Despite having a BSc, it took It took 5 months to land a job and I was getting quite despondent, but I never looked back when I did. My BSc came to the rescue and was the bedrock for the different areas I have worked in throughout my career in health. I have had the opportunity to work in Canberra, Sydney and Saudi Arabia. During my career I have had various roles as a Medical Scientist in Clinical Biochemistry, as an Ambulance Paramedic, as a Technical Officer in two different research labs, as a Data Analysist for mandatory health data reporting and as a Project Officer for introduction of new IT systems for two different areas in health. I have been able to acquire post graduate qualifications in paramedicine and health services management. I met my lovely wife while working as a Paramedic, she is a Registered Nurse and works in ICU. We have two great young adult children who have also chosen careers in health.
Area of study
My main area of study was biochemistry, then diversifying into more frontline medical/health studies.
My most epic fail was listening to, and then acting on, misleading advice from well-meaning but less invested officers from other services during an incident. The incident was the difficult extrication of a young man injured in a gorge whose care I was in charge of. My initial plan was a manual carry out using sufficient manpower available but was advised a helicopter rescue would be better. I then agreed but a failure of the helicopter winch (it jammed) during hoisting meant that the patient was stuck only after getting part way up. This meant the helicopter then had to lower to place the patient back on the ground but got dangerously close to tree tops while doing so and was starting to lose control from localised vortices off the gorge walls and ground. It was life threatening for the helicopter crew and those on the ground and the helicopter crew had no choice but to manually cut the winch cable unaware how high off the ground the patient was. He was fortunately being held close to the ground and was unharmed. A manual carry out had to then be done anyway. I should have trusted my initial analytic instincts that studying at the ANU helped foster.
Working in frontline and critical care support areas in health provides many proud moments. My proudest moments are the times where I have been able to positively intervene during acute crises in lives of people, where I was their first contact with the health system encompassing all socio-economic groups. A close second are times when recognising a previously unseen set of abnormal biochemistry test results, and bringing that to the attention of relevant care providers.
My top tip for graduating students and/or young alumni is to remain flexible and consider working in areas that may have been only of peripheral interest. When in a job be on the lookout for other opportunities that may present. Have faith in your abilities to adapt and to learn new skills. Your time studying at ANU will have given you those abilities, and your ANU qualification(s) will stand you in good stead as well as being well regarded.