Real world applications of laboratory learning

An experiment in a bespoke second year Skills for Medical Scientists topic showing that exposing peanuts to heat leads to the degradation of a peanut protein responsible for peanut allergenicity is just one example of real-world application of his learning that inspires Paul Altmann.

Studying the Bachelor of Medical Science (Laboratory Medicine) as part of the first cohort in the newly-designed undergraduate program, Paul is learning how the human body works at an anatomical, macroscopic and molecular level.

“I am beginning to learn about pathology and how defects and disease can affect and disrupt the normal function of the body,” Paul says. “I am developing an understanding of current medical research and how it can be applied to a clinical setting through designing and conducting experiments, allowing me to practice and refine laboratory skills that will be relevant to my future career.”

With a desire to make a positive difference in the lives of others, it’s a career path which has presented later in life for Paul who left high school and spent the next 20 years working in retail and horticulture, before a strong result on an aptitude test led to him to consider university study for the first time in his life.

“This led me to Flinders University, where I studied six months of a Bachelor of Forensic Science which is where I discovered an interest in biology and decided to apply this in a medical setting, so I transferred to a Bachelor of Medical Science with the goal to work in a laboratory setting helping people once completed.

“After 12 months of Bachelor of Medical Science, the Bachelor of Medical Science (Laboratory Medicine) degree began which was exciting as it’s exactly the area I wish to work in.

“The relationship between Flinders University and SA Pathology, and the opportunity to participate in clinical placements, is extremely appealing to me.”

Refining his skillsets and meeting competencies

Through his studies Paul will undertake a full-time placement in his fourth year to further refine his skillsets and meet specific diagnostic laboratory competencies.

This, he says, opens up career opportunities making him job ready to take his passion into the field as a medical scientist in a pathology laboratory. The peanut experiment just one of the many examples of being able to take learning from lectures and the laboratory to having a direct impact on the health of others.

“This research was initially conducted in the Flinders Medical Centre and has been applied to Flinders University learning content to reinforce lecture material and to develop practical skills relevant to our field.

“It was an experiment that really stood out to me because there was a profound, real-world, up-to-date application to the learning material and also had a personal touch for me as my son has previously suffered an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts.”

Opportunity knocks at the right time

The opportunity to study the new Bachelor of Medical Science (Laboratory Medicine) at Flinders University came at the right time in his life, he says, and while continuing down the path towards pursuing career options in a number of disciplines including microbiology, haematology or genetics, Paul knows he is well supported by Flinders.

“I have found every topic that I have taken interesting and relevant to the career that I am aiming for and I have been able to progressively build on my knowledge – covering basic theories in detail which allows for a better understanding of more complex concepts.

“The lecturers and topic coordinators have been extremely approachable as they genuinely care about their field and our learning experience while giving us every opportunity to achieve our goals.

“I also appreciate the up-to-date facilities that are at our disposal where everything is always clean, neat and tidy. As a former horticulturalist, I am also always happy to wander the grounds of the Bedford Park campus and to take my study out into the well-maintained outdoor environment.”

Learn more about studying the Bachelor of Medical Science (Laboratory Medicine) at Flinders University.

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