Spotlight with Erlyn Macarayan, RN, MHSS, Ph.D (c)

Erlyn Macarayan finished Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Santo Tomas and her Master in Health and Social Sciences at the De La Salle University through the Ford International Scholarship Program.She also finished certificate programs in social entrepreneurship and business management through the Goldman Sachs International Scholarship Program. Prior to coming to Queensland, Lyn worked as a presidential staff officer at the Presidential Management Staff of the Philippines and as research associate at the Social Development Research Center and the Center for Environmental Social Applied Research and Anthropological Research Consultancy.

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She has also previously worked as a cardiovascular-renal nurse and has as well travelled as a youth ambassador in various Asian countries. Now she is on the last year of her doctoral studies (in public Health) at the University of Queensland.

In a speech delivered during the closing plenary of the Council of International Students Australia Conference for the receipt of the Most Inspiring International Student Award, Llyn said, “We all had a unique privilege to be here in the great country of Australia. Half the world is dying from diseases that we could actually prevent. Half the world is suffering more than we do from any assessments or exams. I challenge you. Travel and conquer the world. Be unsatisfied. Be ambitious. Be bold. Be brave enough”.

From Down Under, we hear this voice from one of our own.

Tell us about your professional life prior to pursuing a PhD at the University of Queensland?

Prior to doing my PhD in Australia, I was working with the Presidential Management Staff Human Development Policy Office in Malacanang. I was also at that time doing some research projects with the University of the Philippines and De La Salle University. Then, I also got involved on social entrepreneurship with Ateneo de Manila University and University of Asia and the Pacific. Prior to that, I was working as a dialysis nurse at Metropolitan Medical Center and volunteering as a community health worker and staff nurse for hospitals in Bulacan too.

You barely have a year to go to complete you doctorate, what will be your research and professional goals?

I wanted my impact on health to be both global and local. Thanks to the support of the University of Queensland and the many other organizations working for health, I was able to see that there is so much that we can do for health across the globe. These needs are urgent, but our interventions should be informed by evidence. As such, I wanted to continue research either through a postdoctoral degree or working with other health research institutions or international organizations. I still wanted to learn so much more so I am planning to further my knowledge and skills even more especially in biostatistics, data science and epidemiology. More than the global prospect, I wanted to be more active as well in shaping the future for the Philippine healthcare industry and work as a consultant. I am also in the planning stage of a unique capacity-building and strengthening project focusing on courses and training programs for our emerging health leaders and young health advocates in the Philippines. I'll release details soon, but I am looking forward to get the project funded next year and start its implementation by end 2016. (I guess I am a highly ambitious person so I do have quite a number of plans after PhD! haha)

We know that doing a higher degree research is a tedious task and that having a good mentoring is a success factor, what is central to a strong mentoring relationship?

In my opinion and like in every other relationship, I believe that a strong mentoring relationship always has to be a "two-way relationship" for it to work. What I meant is that, mentoring will work if both the mentor/s and the mentee are putting their efforts into molding and shaping your future and that both of you are learning along the way. I think it is very hard to find good mentors and much more get a strong mentoring relationship, but if you both share the same vision, commitment and passion, I think it should work well - but that will still depend on how hard you work and how much your mentor pushes you to your limits - (and as I've said in my post recently) - how both of you leave enough room for both motivation and depression. And I think it's not just dependent as well on having a good mentor or mentoring relationship, you also have to find the right network, be with the best people, and find a truly good working environment - that means, you truly have to work hard!