Dr. Marnique Basto graduated from Brighton Secondary College in 2001 and completed an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science at Monash University. After developing a keen interest in anatomy during this course, she subsequently gained entry into a Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) at the University of Melbourne, graduating in 2009.
Marni’s completed her intern year (1st year as a junior doctor) at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne. That year she had a personal experience with surgery, and her surgeon who was one of the first female urologists in Australia inspired her interest in the field. While being determined to follow this path, she had planned a sabbatical year to appreciate life outside the books, and travel the world. This 11-month adventure took her backpacking all through South America, Europe and Asia. “I knew I had to step off the treadmill and get some balance into my life given all the solid years of study” Marni commented.
During this time, she also explored her interest in Urology by attending conferences in Europe and visiting Urologists to gain a better understanding for the types of surgery they performed. Marni said “When I came back to work in Australia I was refreshed and more driven than ever to become a Urologist”.
Over the next few years she worked as a junior doctor in various hospitals in Victoria, including a year of full-time research at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre where she started her Doctorate in Uro-oncology, specifically looking at the effectiveness of robotic surgery to treat prostate cancer in the Victorian public health system. Marni said “Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men, so doing cancer research in this field was extremely rewarding”.
After starting her training in Surgery, she took three years’ maternity leave and juggled the birth of her two children and her husband’s surgical fellowship in New York City. During her time in the United States, she gave birth to her second child who had a congenital heart defect and required open heart surgery at birth; The very surgery her husband was learning to do himself. Her son’s surgery was performed by his mentors in New York, and Marni supported her son through his successful recovery. She also completed her doctorate during this time and graduated on return to Australia.
Marni explained that she was very fortunate to be coming through surgical training in an era where there has been a huge cultural shift towards flexible surgical training options for men and women. This allowed me to come back from an extended maternity leave in a part time capacity. My first year working flexibly in surgery was in Victoria and this year has been in New South Wales. She is currently half way through her surgical training.
Marni is a keen advocate for women in surgery and truly believes that “You can’t be, what you can’t see”. She hopes she too will someday inspire other young women into surgery or other professional careers knowing that you can balance a family, travel, research and work.
She leaves us with this final comment, “It is important to have a long term destination in mind, but you don’t win any medals for getting there first. Enjoy the journey and be flexible as opportunities arise, these small deviations off the path can be the most rewarding”. When asked about her biggest achievement, Marni said it was “being a Mum to Emmy and Seb without a doubt”.