“It was about 4am on a Monday morning, after being up and on-call as the Plastics and Maxillofacial registrar since 6 am Friday, shoving a Snickers bar (the most energy dense food available in the vending machine) into my mouth while waiting for theatre when I thought I might need to change tack.
I loved operating; that was incredible, but the rest of it – the hours, the uncertainty of getting onto the program, the politics – was making me unhealthy, unhappy and importantly I hadn’t been creative in a long time.
So I took a year off, got a Dip Child Health and Masters of Sports Medicine, travelled, made a film, started dancing again and moved to Melbourne to start general practice and also take up the Crichton Dance Medicine Fellowship at the Australian Ballet.
To be honest I was a bit worried about being bored off my noodle in general practice – I am after all, an ex-surgeon with a notoriously short attention span for things I can’t cut or sew (in which case I have endless patience for tying tiny things together with tiny sutures) – but that couldn’t be further from the truth and I grew to love the variety I see in general practice and appreciate the challenge of the so called ‘soft skills’ around uncertainty and human factors. I’ve enjoyed seeing people change over time and experiencing that journey with them. I’ve also loved the ability to shape my career to my interests; I’ve leveraged my experience in plastics and do a lot of skin cancer work, and see a lot of musculoskeletal medicine as well. I recently volunteered up at the Commonwealth Games and am writing a textbook chapter on the foot and ankle with some of the leading researchers and clinicians. I have also been able to incorporate ultrasound in my work and am heavily involved in promoting its use in primary care being the lead facilitator for the RACGP’s point of care ultrasound introductory course.
Being a professional dancer and artist prior to medicine, I was missing that in my life and am privileged to work with the Australian Ballet as one of their doctors, undertaking research and also presenting and publishing on dance medicine. I’ve always loved teaching and am very happy to be on board as a medical educator with EV as well, and also teach a bit of ballet on the side though I don’t pull on the tights and tread the boards anymore. I am involved in various research projects and am active in FOAMed and am passionate about shortening the knowledge translation gap from research to clinical practice. In amongst all this, I also have time to work on a short film, go mountain biking with more enthusiasm than skill and set up an Etsy store featuring custom dinosaur themed jewellery.”