- On July 11, 2019
- July / August 2019
Pathways through medicine
Careers Service offers tailored support to doctors throughout their careers. The NSW Doctor is showcasing the unique stories of doctors who have successfully used Careers Service to further their progress through medicine. Dr Dolapo Sotade shares his journey through medicine.
I came to Australia at the age of 10 and spent my high school years in rural Queensland. I elected to study medicine as both my parents work in health, and as many readers would know health careers tend to run in families. My father is a general practitioner and my mother is a nurse. I spent part of my childhood living in a medical compound in South Africa and I look back on that time fondly.
I also chose to do medicine as the work offers intellectual challenge and variety, and I believe room for new innovations. I feel there is a true challenge in being able to keep up to date with new technology and advances in medicine. I truly enjoy caring for patients and it is extremely satisfying when patients experience good outcomes. I am in the privileged position as an orthopaedic registrar to use my expertise to care for patients when they are in a time of need.
I studied medicine at the University of Newcastle and I accepted a rurally bonded place.
In my career, I have worked in both large metropolitan and smaller rural centres, and currently I am working as an unaccredited orthopaedic registrar for Hunter New England Health.
As a junior doctor, I particularly enjoyed my orthopaedic rotations. I was inspired by the enormous impact that routine procedures have on patients. I remember looking after a patient who was wheelchair bound, and with poor quality of life as a result of arthritis of the hip. The patient received a hip replacement and the change was astounding. His mobility and independence returned, and his outlook on life became more positive. Not only did this surgery have a positive impact on the patient, but it had a ripple effect to his whole family. The patient’s increased independence took some caring duties off his wife and daughter. The patient was also delighted that he could finally play with his grandchildren at the local park, which was previously impossible to access with a wheelchair. This early exposure to orthopaedic surgery is part of the reason I have continued to work in this area of medicine.
I have always been drawn to regional medicine. There is a great need to attract, train and retain rural doctors so all Australians have equitable access to healthcare. This is particularly important to me as I grew up in a rural area and I would like to make a contribution to rural medicine. Working in regional centres has given me the opportunity to develop my skills in a supported environment. In my current post, my area covers a wide population from affluent to lower socioeconomic, and ethnically diverse, providing a good case mix for training.
As with any job there are stressful and challenging moments. However, on the whole, orthopaedics offers variety of work accompanied by a great deal of personal satisfaction. One aspect of the work which can be challenging is managing patients who have high expectations in an occasionally strained public health system. Often it gets busy, and patients have to wait longer to be seen. It can be difficult managing the understandably anxious or upset patients. With experience, good communication skills, empathy and patience, I feel that you can build rapport and de-escalate these situations.
I am currently working towards securing a place on the orthopaedic training program. If I am able to secure a position and finish training I would like to return to regional practice.
I met Careers Service’s Anita Fletcher at a professional function, and she introduced me to her work as a career adviser. My CV was reviewed, and recommendations were made for improvements. Anita was also proactive in helping me meet leaders in my field, which has been a great professional learning experience.
My advice to other doctors would be to choose a speciality that you truly enjoy and to create a good work-life balance. We might have certain skills that make us suitable for particular types of work, but this may not be what we really want to do. My advice is to find something you are motivated to do from a clinical, personal or academic perspective.
AMA (NSW)’s Careers Service has assisted hundreds of doctors achieve their goals by offering professional support tailored to their level of experience, skills and ambition. For more information contact Anita Fletcher, Manager of Medical Careers Service, 02 9902 8158 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.