Meet Monash University’s latest Women in STEMM Student Leaders – Seraphina Choong

Bachelor of Medicine – Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Research focus: creating and validating a clinical need for an alternative skin graft attachment method for burns patients.

Seraphina Choong

Dr Seraphina Choong is a recipient of a 2021 MIME Women in STEMM Student Leader Award. These awards aim to recognise, celebrate and support women students at Monash University who are contributing to innovation in healthcare and medical technologies. MIME spoke to Seraphina upon accepting this award.

What is your chosen degree and what inspired you to pursue this path?

I recently graduated as a Bachelor of Medical Science and Doctor of Medicine. My journey in medicine first stemmed from childhood encounters with my family doctor. Whether it was for a flu shot or just feeling under the weather, I always left her rooms feeling a little brighter, a little more motivated. As a role model she encouraged me to chase my dreams, and as an eight-year-old girl I decided I wanted to follow her footsteps when I grew up – to listen and care for patients during their weakest times.

What is your favourite aspect about this STEMM field?

The instantaneous, human interaction with patients – every single day is unique in the medical field.

Can you elaborate on your contribution to innovation to healthcare and medical technologies?

Over the last few years, I engaged in various research projects in the areas of colorectal and plastic surgery. At Monash Health, I worked with the Monash Surgical Research team, synthesising and analysing data on acute diverticulitis in the young population. During the Healthcare Innovation Summer Scholarships program (HISS) last year, I led our team to create and validate an unmet clinical need for an alternative skin graft attachment method for burns patients.

These projects were an amazing means to practise effective communication with teams from across multiple disciplines. My experience with HISS has also influenced my decision to choose Health Informatics as part of my medical research rotation in my final year where we developed an intensive care unit (ICU) admission order set aimed to streamline and improve ICU admission efficiency for clinicians at Monash Health.

Can you tell us a little of your leadership experience?

I am a firm believer of servant leadership. Through my role as president of MAMSA (Malaysian Medical Student organisation), I relish in empowering and equipping others in their life journey. International students are amongst the worst hit during the height of the pandemic in 2020. To address this issue, I organised a free food initiative for our members and worked with the committee to transition all activities online so to continue providing support to members during this difficult period.

As a mentor to medical students and lecturer at my local medical school, I also regularly deliver tutorials and workshops to convert otherwise complex or abstract topics into comprehensive and practical points. I am delighted for opportunities to use my experience to help students navigate their journey through medical school.

What will the $1,000 cash prize to support your studies go towards?

I intend to pursue postgraduate study in the surgical field in the near future.

Why do you think awards like this are important for Women in STEMM?

I think representation and diversity matters. Historically women are underrepresented in STEMM, but this award forms part of the bridge to this gap.

What is your advice for Women in STEMM or those thinking about a career in STEMM?

I would highly recommend anyone who is interested about a career in STEMM to go for it! To create innovative healthcare technology for a diverse society, diverse representation in the workplace is essential and more female representation is always welcome.