Thursday, 10 December 2015

A visit to VIFM: a student's tale

The SPHPM Summer Vacation Scholarship Program is a dynamic four-week program that runs over the University's summer vacation period, and is now in its fifth year. The program is open to all students studying a Bachelor of Health Science, Biomedical Science and Medicine. Travis Nisbet, a student in the program this year has recounted last week’s excursion to the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM), within SPHPM’s Department of Forensic Medicine. Travis is studying a Bachelor of Health Science/ Bachelor of Social Work double degree. 

On a fine summer’s morning, the student cohort in this year’s Summer Vacation Program were given a chance to see and hear what happens within the illustrious Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (or VIFM, for those in the know). There are three Summer Vacation students based at VIFM, but for the majority of us it was an entirely new experience.

First achievement of the day was successfully navigating our way to the Institute, closely followed by locating the correct reception desk at which to sign in and acquire our visitor’s passes.

Once we were all in attendance, we migrated into a lecture theatre where we were presented with information from a wide variety of presenters including: Professor Olaf Drummer, Head of Department of Forensic Medicine and Academic Programs; Dr Richard Bassed, Head of Teaching and Training Programs; Dr Jennifer Pilgrim, Head of Drug Harm Prevention Unit; several PhD candidates outlining their research project; and Dr Dimitri Gerostamoulos, Head of Forensic Sciences.

During our visit we learnt about what work VIFM conducts, who the work was for, and how VIFM contributes to legislation, public health policy and research. Additionally we were informed about what career pathways there are for working at VIFM and what post-grad courses they offered (including giving hope to those of us not undertaking medicine by informing us of a new pathway they will be offering in 2017).

This information session was closed by a quick spot of question and answer time. This was followed by a tour of the labs where we got to see some of the processes in action and be impressed by all the expensive toys (read really cool scientific machines) that are run 24/7 in the process of fighting crime and finding answers.

The opportunity to meet and network with VIFM staff after the information session was very rewarding. Many students were spurred on by great new insight into the multitude of places and working fields in which their chosen university courses could lead them. The students, myself included, would like to extend our thanks to Professor Olaf Drummer for accommodating us and arranging the presentations, as well as our Lecturer Basia Diug and all those from within SPHPM who helped organise such a great experience. 

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