Interview with Alumni Penny Vacouftsis
What was your original University course and how did it lead you to reproductive sciences? Was this the course you wanted to get into straight after OG?
I completed a Bachelor of Science (Biology major) at Deakin University which I thoroughly enjoyed, as this was the course I wanted to get into. The independence of university life was really good because I am generally an organized individual which made it easy to transition. After completing my course, I knew there would be a lot of individuals competing to obtain work which is why I chose to study for another year (Postgraduate Degree in Reproductive Sciences), and gain more skills which included skills in research. I was very lucky that after the completion of this course and applying for work, I got my first job four months later at the Monash Sleep Centre.
What was your role at the Monash Sleep Centre, and how does it relate to your area of studies?
My role at the sleep centre was to set up the patients and get them ready for their overnight sleep test. I would work the afternoon shift.
Four months after working at the sleep centre part time, I wanted more work and was lucky enough to get into my role as a respiratory scientist, which I am still in and enjoy. Having gained the experience working at the sleep centre, seeing the difficulty people have while sleeping, various sleep disorders and breathing issues, I was able to put that knowledge into my current role.
Why did you decide to transfer into respiratory science work, and what does this look like on a day to day basis?
I decided to transfer to respiratory science because this was closely related to sleep. Working at the sleep centre allowed me to use that knowledge in lung function. On a daily basis, I test patients ranging from 5 years old up to 97 years old. Sometimes the work is repetitive and other days it is quite different. It depends on the test the doctor has asked for.
The standard testing involves instructing the patient to breathe into a machine which measures their lung volumes, capacity, and checks to see if their lung function is within the normal range.
Now you have finished your studies, what are your next steps?
After I finished my studies, I did miss university a little, however the workforce is great and I am happy with where I am at.
I work with a great team, which makes a difference when going into work. We are more like family, and I see myself staying in my current position for years to come.