Clinical Trials Program Coordinator
Degree: Monash Master of Public Health
Passion: Intensive care research; diversity in everyday workload
Current job: Project Manager in ANZIC-RC working on an intensive care nutrition RCT
Victoria gained an interest in research through her work as a specialist intensive care nurse and after some recommendations from colleagues and her own investigation, enrolled in a Master of Public Health to broaden her career prospects. Her first research role came in her final year of study, on a randomised controlled trial based on exploring ventilation in critically ill people. Since then she’s contributed to systematic reviews, tutored MPH students and now works on a study investigating nutrition in critically ill people. She loves the day-to-day variability of research; from planning and ordering trial consumables to ensuring regulatory compliance, from managing project budgets to training field staff.
Victoria enjoys the positive nature of public health: "Most people are here because they want to improve people’s experiences of healthcare, so it’s a generally positive group."
What was your career background prior to enrolling in the MPH?
I completed a Bachelor of Nursing, worked for two years as a ward nurse, and then went travelling before enrolling in a postgraduate intensive care nursing course and working in intensive care units. I then developed an interest in research and worked as an intensive care unit Research Coordinator.
When you first graduated from your undergraduate training, could you see a clear career path or were you uncertain as to what you wanted to do?
At the time I was quite clear that I wanted to work in nursing. But over time I developed an interest in research. So whilst I could see a clear pathway, my wants and needs changed from that.
What made you enrol in an MPH?
I grew increasingly interested in being a part of medical research, so I spoke to a few researchers at the Alfred Hospital who thought an MPH might be a good option for me, as it is applicable to so many different job roles. I guess I was really looking for how I could broaden my career in research.
How did you get your first job after you graduated from your MPH?
I took on a role at Monash University during the third year of my studies, as a Project Manager. It was on a randomised controlled trial looking at ventilation in very sick patients with severe pneumonia. The role continued on for a couple of years as the project’s funding was extended.
What sort of jobs have you had since graduation?
A real mixture. I’ve worked on research projects like I’m doing now. I’ve also contributed to systematic reviews, which involve scouring scientific journals for relevant research, then analysing and combining their results to produce really powerful evidence. They involve a lot of searching online, reading, classifying and statistical analysis. I’ve also been a tutor for an MPH subject – Research Methods.
Tell me about your current role.
I’m a Project Manager working on a new study looking at nutrition in patients in intensive care and following them for their hospital stay. We are still setting the project up, so my day-to-day activities are really diverse. I organise and attend a lot of meetings, spend time planning and scheduling, work out budgets, conduct site visits to set up the study in hospitals and train their on-site staff who will be looking after the study participants, write reports, organise deliveries of trial supplies and consumables, and make sure we are compliant with all the regulatory policies and frameworks that govern research in Australia.
What have you enjoyed about your public health career to date?
My day-to-day activities are always different. While I work on the one project, there is so much to do and it involves diverse tasks. And I love the passion you find in public health. Most people are here because they want to improve people’s experiences of healthcare, so it’s a generally positive group.
What career advice would you give to students considering or doing an MPH?
Use your contact opportunities. Talk to your lecturers and guest lecturers, and get to know your colleagues in your tutor groups. By doing that, you’ll build a profile that will help you find jobs, and you’ll also take on the interesting insights from peers with diverse backgrounds and opinions.
What is the main value of your MPH?
The specific knowledge I learnt about research. Because it’s a generalist degree, you can apply your learnings to countless different areas of research. It’s so flexible.
What did you like most about the course itself?
I liked the variety in the course content and students' ability to tailor their units to their interest areas.