Dr Rowan Story: Building a career with no limits

La Trobe Alumnus Dr Rowan Story AM, RFD, has built a remarkable career.

With an impressive career in oral surgery, law, teaching, and the armed services – Dr Rowan Story is a big believer in tailoring a working life without limits.

The La Trobe alumnus works in private practice as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, teaches law and ethics to dentistry students, volunteers at a community legal service, sits on the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, and leads an annual volunteer surgical team to Vietnam.

Rowan has also served as a Defence Force Reservist for almost 30 years, and from 2011 to 2015 was appointed Director General Health Reserves – Air Force with the rank of Air Commodore. In this role he was responsible for the recruitment, training and care of all medical and health personnel in the Royal Australian Air Force.

Rowan’s full and varied career is a product of his belief in ‘portfolio careers’, whereby the focus is on curating a medley of part-time roles that provide both fulfillment and flexibility.

“The idea of working at the same place forever and receiving a gold watch when you finish just isn’t the case anymore,” Rowan says. “For a lot of people, the jobs they will be doing in the future haven’t yet been invented, so it’s important to be flexible and open to whatever interests you.”

Rowan holds multiple university qualifications, including three from La Trobe. After completing his Bachelor of Science at La Trobe in 1971, he returned to study a Postgraduate Diploma in Policy and Law, followed by a Bachelor of Laws. Rowan said his interest in the law developed while he was serving as President of the Dental Board of Victoria.

“I became very interested in how the law worked after chairing disciplinary hearings involving professional conduct matters,” Rowan says. “So when my time on the board finished, I decided to apply for the graduate LLB program at La Trobe. I’m so grateful to La Trobe because at different times of my life, they’ve provided me with the opportunities to acquire new qualifications and skills that have helped me branch out.”

Rowan teaches law and ethics at The University of Melbourne, and also shares his expertise with La Trobe’s dentistry students. He said he enjoys combining careers in law and surgery.

“Scientific and biological thinking is separate from legal thinking – so it forces you to think differently depending on your situation,” Rowan says.

Since 1998, Rowan has led an annual surgical mission to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, where he treats cleft and jaw deformity patients and passes on his surgical skills.

He says his career is testament to the limitless opportunities that education can provide.

“The ability to be flexible and follow new paths is one of the best lessons a university can offer,” Rowan says.

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