Top Doc’s advice for students

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“It’s important we know where we’ve come from, to know who we are and to know where we might go.”

The profound words come from recently appointed UNSW Dean of Medicine, Dr. Vlado Perkovic.

UNSW Dean of Medicine Vlado Perkovic. PHOTO: UNSW

Having come to Australia at just nine months old when his parents decided to emigrate from Croatia, Vlado’s strong Croatian roots, appreciation for the culture and the influence of Croatia’s strong Catholic society helped position him to be not just a successful doctor, but a successful man who spends his life trying to help others.

“It’s your principles that drive your ability to have an impact,” said Dr. Perkovic. “The more time you spend thinking about how you can help other people, the more of an impact you can actually have.

“Every time I can do something positive for one of my patients, I see that as a huge opportunity and a success.

“Through my research I’ve had the opportunity to help develop new treatments which can prevent kidney failure, and particularly for people with diabetes, and that’s been incredibly rewarding and a great privilege.”

“It’s important we know where we’ve come from, to know who we are and to know where we might go”

Originally from Melbourne, the father of three made the decision with wife Silvija to move their young family to Sydney in the early 2000s.

“Credit to my lovely wife Silvija, she could have easily said no, and she certainly gave it careful thought, but we made the move as a family and it’s been a wonderful experience.”

Vlado’s sons all came up though Catholic Schools, with Adam and Gabriel completing high school, and youngest Evan currently in year 12 at St. Aloysius in Kirribilli.

“The values of the school very much aligned with our values as individuals and as a family and that’s important because we want to be comfortable that way, to know that we share the views but we also like the boys to be challenged.”

Through his role as Dean of Medicine at UNSW and a father to teenagers, Vlado has a unique insight into the issues facing students today.

“The world is changing, and the things that young people today spend most of their time doing didn’t exist just a relatively short time ago.

“Social media is a big issue and it can be a very positive force. In some ways, but it’s also potentially a very negative one in that can be isolating.”

“Social media is a big issue and it can be a very positive force. In some ways, but it’s also potentially a very negative one in that can be isolating.

“It can make it easy for people to be much, much nastier individually than we would ever been in real life.”

“I think the workload issues are forever getting more complicated and more difficult, and I think also the role of a school is to some degree changing.”

“People will graduate into a role, and that role will evolve or change directly several times during their career. So, having a single skill set is not enough.”

“Schools have to equip people to be able to develop skills as well as to have the skills themselves too. It’s not just about what you learn at school but it’s about what you learn about learning that can set you up for the rest of your life.”

His advice for students?

  1. Find something you enjoy.

“I think people should focus on pursuing what they enjoy and think not just about the career or the title, but think about what the job involves and whether that’s something that you want to spend your time doing for many years. It’s very easy to get bored in a job if it’s not what you want.”

  1. Develop a broad range of skills

“I think it’s also important for people, particularly those who want to do medicine, that they try and develop a broad range of skills and a broad range of experiences.

“That’s something that’s often overlooked. So spending time understanding society and some of the challenges in society will leave people better placed to do well.”

  1. Be prepared to take a long-term view.

“At UNSW we get three and a half thousand applications for medicine each year for 200 spots. So clearly there are a large number of highly skilled and highly talented individuals who don’t get in.”

“That’s not because they’re not good enough, but just because the competition is so strong. So, for people who are very interested in pursuing medicine or something similar, year 12 is not the end of the story.”