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Bree Norton

Clinical Research Associate, Cancer Council (Victoria)

The path I have taken since graduating from Curtin in 2003 is one that I could not have predicted but one that I am enjoying immensely. I was released back into the world after graduating with a bachelor of Nutrition & Food Science with Honours in Dietetics. When I started the course I had no idea the areas it would open up and the possibilities it would make available. While clinical and community dietetics seem like the obvious job choices but there is a whole world of research out there that I wasn’t initially aware of but have been only too happy to discover.

Following graduation I applied for a number of jobs in both Perth and regional WA as clinical and community dietitians. Unfortunately or fortunately, I was not successful in gaining any of these positions but within a couple of months I began working causally as a dietitian in a Perth private practice. Here I built up a small client base and was able to hone my counselling, time management and interpersonal skills. Around the same time I applied for a job in research and was successful. Feeling a little like a fish out of water I started work as a clinical research assistant, coordinating the Perth site of a phase 3 clinical trial of a new osteoporosis drug. In this position I learnt skills such as bone mineral density scanning and venipuncture that I never dreamt would be part of my day-to-day work. I continued to work as a clinical research assistant and in private practice until I moved to Melbourne at the beginning of 2006.

In Melbourne, initially I continued work in bone research at the Royal Melbourne Hospital but in June commenced employment at the Cancer Council Victoria as a clinical research associate. It took a couple of months to settle into life in a new city but the satisfaction and enjoyment I get out of my current work helped speed up the process. Our unit at the Cancer Council although small, coordinates a number of clinical trials within the oncology setting in hospitals throughout Australia, New Zealand and parts of Asia. Currently I am working on a large international, multicentre breast cancer trial where my role is similar to that of an auditor and I work with research staff in hospitals to ensure study protocols are being adhered to. On smaller, local trials we are involved every step of the way from helping to write the study protocol through to data analysis at the other end. To try and keep up to date with my professional development as a dietitian at the beginning of 2005 I also started writing a monthly article for an on-line health publication called Office Health. I feel right at home in both of the areas of work I’m currently involved and yet neither is where I thought I’d be at the start of my Curtin degree.

Bree Norton