Faces of the Fellowship

Michelle O'Sullivan - Immunology

There were several factors which led me to my decision to obtain my fellowship. From the time I had graduated from the Medical Science degree at QUT I had wanted to further my qualifications. More than thirty years later it was finally possible for me to achieve this goal. At this point in my career the fellowship was financially far more viable than a university course, especially considering the NPAAC recognition that it receives.

My field of Immunology is rapidly expanding and I found the modules very relevant and gave me valuable background to much of the work that I was performing on the bench. Due to the multi-disciplinary nature of Immunology I had to revisit and expand my knowledge of biochemistry, haematology, blood banking, serology, cell biology, microbiology and molecular biology. It was quite a refresher!

The structure of the fellowship allowed me to fit study into the other important parts of my life. With a fair bit of organisation I negotiated an overseas trip, a daughter’s wedding and more than one grandchild arrival. I earned my fellowship in four years, all whilst working full time. The support and encouragement given by the staff at AIMS kept me energised and made me feel confident I could succeed.

Like anything worthwhile, the fellowship requires commitment and lots of hard work but the sense of achievement is amazing. I was ALMOST sorry when it was over!

Michelle O'Sullivan

Piero Nelva - Anatomical Pathology/Histology

As a scientist with 25 years experience, undertaking the AIMS Fellowship examination process was a daunting one, as I had not studied formally for over twenty years.

The new modular format of the exam, however, made the study more manageable and the examination results were returned quickly so I got an accurate and timely indication of how my preparations were going.

One of the most rewarding aspects of the Fellowship program is that the knowledge gained is useful in my daily workplace “on the bench”.

It was a challenging course of study, as the range of topics covered is broad and the questions asked required a depth of knowledge, some of which could only really be learnt from experience in the laboratory.

The rewards upon completion, though, are substantial. It is the highest academic award offered by the peak board for Medical Scientists in Australia and gives me a confidence in my knowledge of my profession. The additional remuneration quickly covers the cost of the course.

As a Fellow of AIMS, I am well placed to make the most of my future career in medical science.

Piero Nelva

Alex Laslowski - Anatomical Pathology/Histology

I would like to thank the Australian Institute of Medical Science for providing a program such as the Fellowship; with a busy work and life schedule coupled with the cost of post graduate education I thought that the opportunity to obtain a post graduate qualification impossible.

However the Fellowship program ticks both criteria for obtaining that qualification. I found the design and structure of the Fellowship allowed me to set the pace of how and when I studied each module, in addition the cost for each exam is extremely reasonable making it a fantastic option for anyone interested in a post graduate qualification.

The Fellowship did demand a dedication of study for each module to achieve the level of knowledge required for a successful pass in each exam. The rewards of all that study is a strengthening of the knowledge which I had already gained from day to day working and me a greater depth of knowledge for numerous areas which I can take forward with me in my career.

Both the time and the money I invested in obtaining my Fellowship have been repaid many times over making the Fellowship a pleasant and rewarding experience. I would strongly suggest to anyone thinking of undertaking the program to enrol.

Alex Laslowski

Craig Williams - Haematology

People often ask me why I did the fellowship and was it worth it.

Obviously a significant reason for doing the fellowship was to expand my knowledge. It provided a means to delve deeply into my chosen discipline and study all aspects of that discipline, including those areas which I may have once avoided due to limited knowledge. But possibly the main reason was to challenge myself. The fellowship challenged my time management skills through planning my study schedule while maintaining a suitable work/life balance.

Was it worth it? I would definitely say yes. On a personal level, I get great pride out of knowing I was able to complete the course. I am using the skills I have learnt every day. I have an expanded knowledge of areas which once challenged me, helping me understand questions and troubleshoot issues as they arise in the laboratory. It has also provided an invaluable networking opportunity, liaising with both people internal and external to my organisation.

Craig Williams

Amanda Dennison - Microbiology

I enrolled in FAIMS Microbiology program in late 2010 and completed it in early 2014. As my career as a Microbiology scientist progressed, I decided to undertake AIMS fellowship as it provided a way of obtaining a further qualification without the requirement to attend formal classes as I was also working full-time. I understood from the information provided by AIMS that undertaking a fellowship would require me to have a solid base knowledge of the module areas with an interest to delve deeper. The independent nature of the program allowed me to complete the stages at my own pace (as long as it was within the time frames stated in the regulations). The program also encouraged me to investigate organisms and processes beyond the level required to complete routine diagnostic testing and also outside my previous areas of interest. I believe that undertaking the fellowship has rounded out my knowledge of Microbiology and increased my confidence as a senior scientist.

For me, the most daunting part was the first written exam. Once I had successfully completed that, I felt I had a better understanding of what was expected regarding the depth and breadth of answers. This provided the motivation required to continue the on-going study required to complete the rest of the written examinations. Also, having regular study sessions with others completing the same modules helped keep me focussed on the next exam. The mentors and AIMS office staff were an invaluable resource during this period. They kept me on track and offered much support. The curriculum guidelines provided by the module conveners also gave a good outline of the topics covered within the exams.

Overall, although it seemed to be quite an intensive 4 year process, the skills and knowledge I have obtained over this time will continue to benefit both myself and my laboratory for the remainder of my career.

Amanda Dennison

Tina Pham​ - Haematology

My decision to enrol in the AIMS fellowship program was based simply on the fact that upon completion I would have a higher qualification at a cost of only $1500. Admittedly, working full time and studying was challenging. It took 6 years to complete, however, the commitment was definitely worth it with the advancement of my career as a medical scientist the result.

Tina Pham