They’re ambitious, innovative and highly intelligent – and they’re set to soon graduate from their chosen fields of study and launch careers that will inspire and change the world.
In the coming weeks we will profile 16 female graduates to watch in 2014 who are leading the next generation of female talent in science, medicine, law, business and research. They answer our questions on everything from what they hope to achieve in their careers, what inspires them and the challenges they anticipate they will face in their careers.
Today’s graduate is Lauren Nisbet. Studying to become both a clinical and academic doctor, Nisbet has already presented her research on sleep disorders at international conferences and has been published in peer-reviewed journals. She won the American Academy of Sleep Medicine Section Investigator Award for Childhood Sleep Disorders and Development in Boston last year, as well as the New Investigator Award at the Australasian Sleep Association Annual Scientific Meeting in Sydney in 2011. Nisbet’s discovery that young children with sleep-disordered breathing have not yet developed adverse cardiovascular effects has featured on ABC Radio National and, earlier this year, she travelled to Michigan to investigate the sleep traits of children with Down Syndrome.
What degree are you studying and at which university?
I am undertaking a Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of surgery/PhD at Monash University (Melbourne, Victoria), and am only the third Monash student to do so.
When do you plan to finish your studies?
I will be completing my studies and graduating with MBBS/PhD in December 2013. I’m very excited to be graduating as a doctor in both senses – medical and academic.
How old are you?
I am 25 years old.
Why did you choose to go into this field?
Health is inextricably linked to quality of life. I chose to study medicine and to undertake higher degree research because I knew that it would not only challenge and develop me both personally and professionally, but also offer a career in which I could positively impact other’s lives. Furthermore, I feel that there is an increasing role for evidence-based medicine. I believe that it is important for clinicians to utilise science to improve diagnostic accuracy and help address treatment deficits.
What do you want to achieve in your career?
Ultimately, my long-term career plan is to be a clinician-scientist, which involves both the undertaking of clinical research and the practice of medicine, be it in paediatric or adult medicine. The ability to identify areas of need within medicine and to subsequently use research to develop ways to address these deficits, greatly interests me. I believe that the translation of scientific findings into clinical practice is fundamental to improvement in health outcomes.
What are the biggest challenges you face in trying to reach these goals?
The difficulty in realising these goals will be that of achieving balance between personal dreams and professional goals. The roles of both clinician and scientist can be quite demanding and by pursuing both I will need to juggle ongoing clinical training in a specialty field simultaneously with the furthering of research skills. Equally important, is the future challenge of combining work with the raising of a family.
Where do you hope to be in 10 years time?
In the next decade I hope to have completed my training in a specialty medical field, have continued to develop my research skills and collaborated with other scientists and doctors on clinically-focussed projects. A particular goal of mine is to work with Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) or a similar aid organisation for a short time. I also wish to spend some time working in othrt parts of Australia.
Who do you admire most?
I admire Waris Dirie, a Somali-born supermodel, author and human rights activist, for her courage and tenacity in her fight against female genital mutilation; and Wirginia Maixner, a leading Australian neurosurgeon and mother, for her unparalleled achievements in paediatric surgery and research and her success as one of Australia’s youngest and first female heads of neurosurgery at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
It is a common belief that one should make the most of every opportunity presented. However, a senior scientist once told me that rather than waiting for an opportunity to arise, one should make opportunity. The active pursuit of opportunity, that is the creation of a set of circumstances which make an achievement possible, is paramount to success.