Meet the University of Melbourne alumni making waves in healthcare – less than one year after graduating

We talk to three past students who have made serious professional strides thanks to the skills they learnt from further study.

Dr Stephanie Schwetlik – Specialist Certificate in Clinical Leadership, class of 2019

Dr Stephanie Schwetlik has had a busy year. In 2019, while working as a Palliative Care Fellow at St Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne, Dr Schwetlik earned her specialist certificate, completed her palliative medicine advanced training, and received her fellowship. She has also been leading development of St Vincent’s Heart Failure Supportive Care Service.

With new leadership skills and strategies under her belt, just a few short months after getting her certificate Dr Schwetlik developed and instigated a multi-disciplinary meeting at St Vincent’s, in which palliative medicine and heart failure clinicians dedicated time to discussing the best ways to treat their most complex patients.

“This has improved coordination of care for these patients and meant that several have avoided admissions and remained in their preferred place of care,” says Dr Schwetlik. “Clinicians have also provided feedback that the meeting is valuable, timesaving and has improved lines of communication across specialties.”

Learning from “game-changing” academics at the forefront of the field has given Dr Schwetlik skills and confidence that she says she will carry throughout her career – skills she’s already successfully putting to real use.

Dr Sean Stevens – Master of Surgical Education, class of 2018

As a general surgeon and the supervisor of prevocational surgical training, Dr Sean Stevens’ days are spent at the Clinical Education Unit at Austin Health in Melbourne.

“I got that role because I had done the Master of Surgical Education and it’s proven really helpful,” he says. “I found that with each subject I did, I became more interested in the field.”

For the research component of the course, Dr Stevens’ minor thesis took him to Timor-Leste, where he researched how to deliver surgical training programs in a developing country.

“Timor is at a point where they are developing a local training program, rather than having to send people overseas to do their training,” he says. “But the challenge they have is their local surgeons are not necessarily trained themselves in how to be teachers or educators.”

Dr Stevens interviewed and observed surgeons for two weeks in Timor-Leste, developing strategies to make a real impact on how surgeons are trained on the ground. He has since continued his surgical education research and is now pursuing a PhD on a similar topic.

Duangchan Sittireanchai – Graduate Certificate in Palliative Care, class of 2018

Duangchan Sittireanchai decided to become a nurse after her father was injured in the Vietnam War. Being able to help people at their most vulnerable has always been her goal, and she now feels she has achieved it by specialising in palliative care. After a nursing career in emergency departments, public health and even infection control, Sittireanchai switched lanes to palliative care to make a difference in the lives of people whose last days will be spent in a hospital bed.

“Being a nurse is a privilege, because we are the ones people turn to,” she says. “I would like to be a part of their lives, so that they can spend their time at the nursing home as happy as they can be.”

Though palliative care is multidisciplinary, at its heart it is driven by patient and family need.

“What I love about palliative nursing is it’s made me feel like I’m doing something very important for the people who need it,” she says. “It’s the type of job a robot can’t replace.”