Harry Gaffney is a final year medical student at Flinders University in South Australia. He is a rural medicine advocate, has had a placement with the Royal Flying Doctors Service, and spent a year working rurally in 2021. He also completed an undergraduate degree, majoring in microbiology and immunology, and has a strong passion for Pathology. With an eclectic professional, volunteering, and academic background, Harry explains why he is so passionate about pathology.
“My interest in pathology started during my undergraduate degree and progressed onwards from there. My majors were in microbiology, molecular biology, and some immunology, and out of every single topic I did, they were by far my favourites. I love learning about the Microcosmos, especially the behaviours of those tiny little organisms that we can’t see with our naked eye.
“Throughout my undergraduate degree, I would always try and find avenues to bring up microbiology with my peers. I would try to bring it into any casual conversation, just so I could try and get other people excited about it! I think perhaps people aren’t excited about it because you can’t see it without a microscope, but it is so cool. The amount of activity that’s constantly happening at a micro and molecular level that causes us to exist is just incredible – I feel so passionate about it. Doing a pathology rotation only reaffirmed to me that it’s the world I belong in.
“I was introduced to pathology as a specialty at Flinders University and I instantly fell in love. I became so excited and passionate about the disease process, even more so the ‘why’ behind those processes – it’s just fascinating. There’s a world that we cannot see and morphological changes happening to us all the time at a cellular level – I think we all need to learn about it, or at least get a little bit interested!
“I love the huge positive impact to health outcomes that research in pathology can have as well. For example, the incredible work that is being done in advancing targeted breast cancer therapy, or discovering the pathogenesis and the causative organism of cervical cancer (HPV) and developing a vaccine for it – that makes such an impact. Even the up and coming near-magic of pharmacogenomics and the potential future of personalised medicine is so amazing. Being able to go to your GP and there being a specific profile for you to have medications that have an increased efficacy…for just you – that it insane!
“Ultimately, pathology underpins every aspect of medicine. To me it is the very framework I use to understand medicine. It has provided me with an invaluable resource and as a result, I am able to learn things better, understand things better and I’m able to enjoy learning medicine, which is fantastic for my quality of life.
“Pathology has so many interesting fields and has so much potential to be utilised for the future as well. I just urge all medical students and junior doctors to just try and get some exposure like I have; they won’t regret it.”