Shawna’s inspiring research tale told through art

Shawna Farquharson describes 1997 as a defining moment in her career as a radiographer specialising in clinical research. She was a Senior Radiographer working in paediatrics at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London.

Every day, children would arrive battling the most complex illnesses. Every day, the brightest scientific minds would come together to work towards medical breakthroughs. And every day, clinical teams would deliver the highest quality of care, making a difference in the lives of each and every patient.

It was there she began to understand the importance of collaboration and the vital role of the radiographer. With insight into both technical and clinical aspects of healthcare, radiographers help to bridge the gap between scientific advances and patient care. For Shawna, this remains one of the most rewarding aspects of her profession.

Shawna is now the Chief Research Radiographer at The Florey. The more than 600 medical researchers at the Florey work on a range of serious diseases including stroke, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and motor neurone diseases, depression and addiction. The search for causes, treatments and cures for conditions affecting the brain and mind couldn’t be more urgent.

Dr Shawna Farquharson standing in front of the mural depicting her as part of the Metro Tunnel Creative Program.
Dr Shawna Farquharson

The work of Dr Shawna Farquharson has been celebrated on the streets of Melbourne as part of the Metro Tunnel Creative Program.

“This artwork beautifully captures the breadth of a radiographer’s role in collaborating with both patients and healthcare professionals to support scientific and clinical advances. It’s an absolute honour to be representing The Florey in the Parkville Storytelling Project.” —Dr Shawna Farquharson, Chief Research Radiographer

Shawna’s team of research radiographers are trained to deliver the highest quality anatomical and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) studies. MRI has become a key tool in the study of the brain. It’s a rapidly evolving field and so highly specialised radiographers are an integral part of the research team, helping to improve our understanding of the normal developing brain, the ageing brain, and our knowledge of trauma and pathologies affecting the brain.

Over the last decade in her role at The Florey, Shawna has had the opportunity to contribute to groundbreaking work in neuroscience as well as providing patients’ with the most advanced imaging methods to improve the outcomes of surgery. She says it is a privilege to work at one of the world’s leading Neuroscience Institutes, but it’s seeing patients’ lives transformed that makes it all worthwhile. When a patient returns after surgery for a follow-up MRI scan, now seizure-free and living life to the fullest for the first time, she is always reminded how important it is to keep striving to make a difference.

Shawna has recently been appointed as 2019-2020 President of the International Society for MR Radiographers and Technologists (SMRT) where she hopes to inspire and empower MR Radiographers and Technologists around the world to become future leaders of the profession.