Close up of neurological testing cords

How a health scare led to a passion in neurophysiology science

The medical scientist leading the way in neurophysiology

Alison is a leading clinical scientist and lecturer in the clinical neurophysiology program at the Sydney Medical School and a senior neurophysiology scientist managing a busy diagnostics department and private practice.

Alison in an exam room with a patient

Alison Szekely – Master of Science in Medicine (Clinical Neurophysiology), 2007

In her first year of a Bachelor of Medical Science, majoring in anatomy and physiology, Alison Szekely suffered a number of episodes of convulsive syncope (fainting) and underwent an array of diagnostic procedures. The electroencephalograph (EEG) was the most memorable, sparking her curiosity and passion for the field instantaneously.

Since graduating in 2007, Szekely has worked across various neurophysiology and research roles. Today, she is a senior neurophysiology scientist and manages a rapidly developing diagnostic department part-time. She also works in private practice, performing both EEGs and nerve conduction studies.

In 2015, Szekely returned to the Sydney Medical School clinical neurophysiology program, this time as a course developer, lead clinical scientist and lecturer. The variety of these three roles keeps her mentally stimulated and intensely passionate about neurophysiology.

Szekely believes the healthcare system could be improved by an increase of specialised supportive personnel who are available for patients outside their consultations.

In her own words

"Correct diagnosis and appropriate management of neurological disorders can improve the immediate health of the patient, and is also important in psychological wellbeing and managing expectations – not only through identifying the correct treatment but also aiding in the identification of various support and rehabilitation options available.

"My department offers diagnostic services which are pivotal in diagnosing and managing a range of neurological disorders such as epilepsy through EEG, multiple sclerosis through evoked potentials and disorders of the peripheral nerves such as carpal tunnel syndrome, Guillain-barre syndrome and motor neuron disease through nerve conduction studies.

"Our field also entails intraoperative neuromonitoring during surgical procedures which place neurological structures at risk. During these procedures, appropriate surgical management of neurophysiological signal change can prevent catastrophic permanent neurological injury post-operatively.

"Patients should feel like unique individuals and not just another number in the system. Far too often I see patients who have not been fully informed about their disorder and the appropriate support has not been offered.

"Learning should be lifelong, and a greater focus should be placed on continuing professional development in all fields."