Julian Wright has been head of the University of Melbourne’s Department of Rural Health since November 2012 and is also Director of Medical Student Education for the Rural Clinical School, Professor of Medicine and a Consultant Nephrologist at Goulburn Valley Health.
What was your first job out of University and how did it shape your future career path?
Graduating from medical school in 1994, I went through a traditional junior doctor pathway as a House Officer, Senior House Officer and then Renal Registrar on a general medical rotation. In 2005, whilst training in renal medicine, I completed a research doctorate (MD) degree and became a consultant nephrologist then undertook an MSc degree in medical education.
Teaching became a passion and I took on roles as Royal College of Physicians Tutor for Medicine, Director of Postgraduate Medical Education at an NHS Trust and worked for Deanery’s Renal Specialty Training Committee.
Who has inspired you the most in your career?
I count myself lucky to have been inspired by many brilliant role models including the knowledgeable medical educator, Dr Hugh Tubbs, Professor Phil Kalra who is an expert researcher and Professor Donal O’Donoghue who has mentored me to become a leader.
How did you become an expert in rural health?
Moving from a metropolitan area in the UK to a regional area in Australia was a complete change of scenery and took me on a steep learning curve. I’ve read a lot and sought advice from many experts, particularly around access to and provision of healthcare outside an urban environment.
What is the most rewarding part of your current role?
I am fortunate to have a position with many rewarding aspects but teaching a keen group of medical students and seeing their skills improve over time is very satisfying.
What are your top tips for aspiring leaders? How can they break through to the executive ranks?
If you aspire to lead then that needs to be planned as is the case with all aspects of your career.
My top tip would be to seek mentorship from someone you trust and who knows you well. If you aspire to be a leader then you need to set out with a clear direction and destination in mind. Seek leadership opportunities, challenges and experiences which, with time, you will become better at negotiating.
As a leader in medicine and health education, how has the discipline changed in recent years?
Medical education has evolved significantly in the last 20 years. Many leaders in this field will have undergone specific training and there is increasing accountability for education provided by their teams. Just like all aspects of clinical care, medical teachers need to continue their professional development.
What are the biggest challenges facing the academic sector right now?
Funding is always a major concern in academia. This is true in the short term but is even a greater concern in the long term. Recent changes in Australian government policy around deregulation of fees which would have significant implications for the higher education sector has added an extra degree of uncertainty.
What made you gravitate toward working at the University of Melbourne?
The reputation of the university, high calibre of contacts and the opportunities which the post offered attracted me to the role.
What were the benefits of working with an executive recruiter to secure this opportunity?
There were many benefits. I managed to find out a lot of details of the position from the recruiter without having to take the step of direct communication with the university at a very early stage in the process. Later on, information regarding remuneration and conditions was also broached. The process was quite drawn out and explanations for this were regularly provided which gave me reassurance.
How do you rate Ccentric and the service provided?
My experience could not be faulted; I felt extremely well supported through the process and completely confident in Ccentric.