Public Health: Bruce Clezy

Bruce Clezy (Master of Public Health, 2016) has had an incredibly diverse and interesting career that has led him to Jakarta, Indonesia where he currently works as a registered nurse for Yayasan Rumah Rachel.

What led you to study at the University of Melbourne?

I was looking for a career change! After 10 years of nursing I was tired of working night shifts. I had a varied career before becoming a nurse, but I knew there was more to health and wellness than just caring for people in hospitals. I chose the Melbourne Masters of Public Health because I wanted to improve the international profile of my personal curriculum vitae.

I was lucky to go overseas twice as part of my degree. Once to India where I worked with village healthcare workers in Maharashtra State. The second time was to Bosnia and Herzegovina where I did some research regarding transgenerational trauma as a result of the Bosnian War and genocide.

What are your strongest memories of your time at the University of Melbourne?

I have to say it is the quality of the teaching. It was amazing. I did not really realise it at the time but when I look back I am kind of shocked by the level of expertise I encountered on a day-to-day basis. And, I don't  just mean professors I mean everyone from the Head of the Prostitutes Collective in Melbourne, to Aboriginal Elders, famous historians  and  even a Nobel Prize winner.

What goals did you set yourself when you finished University and have you stuck to that plan?

My goal was to get more international experience as quickly as possible. Course advisors had been very clear with me that I would probably need to volunteer at the completion of my Masters. International development is a notoriously difficult sector to break into, so I started applying for positions about 2 months before I graduated. Within six months I found myself working in Jakarta as part of Australia’s aid program to Indonesia.

What/who motivated you at University?

I have to say that it was the diversity of the student body. The Melbourne Masters of Public Health is known for the diversity of its student population, with participants coming from all over the world. Every day you study with the most amazing group of people, listening to their stories and telling yours.

For anyone interested in Global Health it is the most wonderful way to improve your professional networks, but  it also makes you realise what a big beautiful world we live in and how there are so many people collectively working to improve it.

What motivates you now?

It's the same really. The people I meet, the amazing places I go. Everyday I am inspired by my colleagues and the communities that I work with. Sometimes the world can seem pretty grim but when you get out there you realise there are so many people working for change in their own lives and the lives of others.

What advice do you have for current students?

Appreciate the opportunities, focus on the positives and try not to get too overwhelmed by the challenges you will face. Postgraduate study is hard. You have to balance so many things in your life (work, family, being in a strange country etc.) and make so many sacrifices. Don't waste your time complaining, or stressing  too much about the small stuff such as assessment tasks, or how that teacher drives you crazy. If you do struggle (I did at times) get help early.  There is no shame in it. The School and University have plenty of people and resources to help you.

What do you love most about your career?

It's the range of possibilities really. The diversity of experiences that I can have. There are just so many different ways that you can work in health (and I don't just mean being a doctor, being a nurse, being a physiotherapist etc.).

What is the greatest accomplishment of your life so far?

Making a family and, at various times in my life, being a “stay at home” dad. As a man I think it is really worth saying: my career is really important, but it does not define me. There is so much more to who I am than just my work.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Understand the religion you were raised with (even if you think you weren’t raised religious at all). So many of us Westerners think we don't have a religion; that we have rejected it, that we are agnostic, or even atheist. This is far from the truth and it keeps us separated and divided from other cultures.

The truth is that each of us is steeped in religion and religious culture. We are up to our eyeballs in it. It's worth taking the time to find out more about your religious heritage, the dominant religion of your culture, and understand it. It will allow you to get closer to people from other cultures.

What is good health to you?

Good health is definitely political. It's all about the distribution of resources. As one very famous public health practitioner has pointed out, if we humans can send a man to the moon why can't we solve some of the major public health crises of our time?