From student to course director: How postgraduate study took one Melbourne doctor to the top

Dr Lindsay Bridgford saw one field of medicine growing in Australia. So he studied it part-time at the University of Melbourne. Now he runs the show.

Emergency medicine specialist Dr Lindsay Bridgford began his clinical ultrasound study more than 20 years ago with some short weekend courses. Back then, doctors commonly learnt just the basics of ultrasound of the heart (the main application for this type of ultrasound). During this time the bulk of research on clinical ultrasounds was coming out of the United States, and very little educational information was available here in Australia or online. But over the past 10 years, that area has exploded.

The specialised clinical ultrasound courses at the University of Melbourne are some of the most rapidly evolving on offer, today including ultrasound of many parts of the body, for many medical applications. Dr Bridgford says these courses, conducted online, are unlike any in the world.

In 2019, the University of Melbourne’s Medical School ranked 17th best in the world, and the best in Australia, according to the QS World University Rankings. Students come from all over the world to learn from some of the brightest minds in healthcare who are not only up to date on the latest developments within the sector, but are creating change and progress too.

As a practicing physician, Dr Bridgford, seeing the potential this part of the industry had for growth, decided to broaden his knowledge base and enrolled in the University of Melbourne’s Graduate Certificate in Clinical Ultrasound. He then turned it into a graduate diploma, before going on to complete the masters. Now, the alumnus has taken on the top job as director of the clinical ultrasound program at the University of Melbourne.

“I could see this is the way we're going in the future,” says Bridgford. “I can pretty much argue with anybody that we should be doing this and we know how to learn it.”

Working in emergency medicine, he immediately saw the benefit of his further study compared to what he’d learnt in a couple of rushed weekend intensives.

Dr Bridgford says that rather than sending patients off to wait for their ultrasound administered by another doctor, as was routine, it was a big step to be able to do it himself.

“Even at the certificate level, I was able to understand with some hands-on practice what it would take to actually do that ultrasound exam myself,” he says.

“The certificate gives you enough breadth and depth of knowledge that it would add to your CV to the point that you would stand out amongst similarly ranked peers as an asset to department,” he says. “Once you get on this diploma level, you're actually getting to the level of being an independent practitioner. And if you go and do a masters degree, you're able to actually be involved in research.”

The University of Melbourne’s diverse healthcare program taps into the areas of industry with the greatest need, and equips professionals with the best tools to use in a changing landscape.

“You're actually now part of an organisation that has a track record, that has production and research and feedback," says Dr Bridgford. “It's been useful to end up in that position where I'm still teaching it, but also involved in the content and the direction in which it's going to go.”

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