I chose to complete my work experience at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre as I have a keen interest in science and research. I was interested to see what medical research involved and I hoped it would help me decide which course I would like to go into at university.
During the week, I observed different scientists undertaking their cancer research. I got to see how they conducted their experiments and how they used complex technology and advanced equipment in their research. I got to sit in on several mouse dissections providing me with an insight as to how they use animals for their experiments. Occasionally I would get to assist the scientists, participating in simple pipette activities, such as changing the media of growing cells.
I enjoyed the tissue cell culture, where they were growing cells. It was really interesting to see how they grow and treat cells which they can use later to test, for example, certain drugs on. I got to help replace what the media the cells were growing in, which provided me with an insight into how the cells are grown and how important sterilisation at each step is. It was interesting to see how from a small, cancerous tissue sample, collected from a patient a few years back, they were able to continue to grow the cells today and use them for research.
It was often difficult to keep up with the scientists and understand what they were researching. Since many of the scientists were conducting the latest research, a lot of the content was very technical and advanced. Although they tried their best to explain each aspect, it was difficult to take in and retain every bit of new knowledge I was gaining, especially when I had already been to four other labs that day. It was also hard to watch some of the mouse dissections.
This work experience helped me to realise that I am interested in scientific research and it is now one of my possible future career paths. By talking to the scientists I gained an insight into which courses I should take and I also found out where this particular field can take me in terms of careers.
By spending the week in a research lab, I got to experience what scientific research involves. Spending time in a variety of different labs allowed me to see the different fields of cancer research and helped me decide which areas I’m interested in.
I know more about this career path than I did before, which should help me make more informed decisions.