I was born in Singapore and grew up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, until my teenage years. I came over to Australia to pursue my tertiary education, where I completed my Bachelor of Science in Melbourne before moving to Adelaide to study Medicine.
After my internship, I started Physician’s training, however this was interrupted by the arrival of 3 children – they were so keen to pick us! I decided to shelf my training and my husband, a surgeon, and I went to work in a mission run hospital in Niger, West Africa. Our family moved there for 3 years and returned to Adelaide at the end of 1995 for our children’s education.
In Niger, I did part-time work to help out, depending on the number of doctors available, wrote the Medical Protocol for the hospital, and did some teaching for national health care workers and expat nurses who felt called to work there. We saw the start of the HIV/AIDS spread in West Africa and were also involved in the meningitis outbreak then.
Since our return to Australia, we have gone back several times to work in Africa in short stints and our hearts are very much in the countries with poor resources.
At present, I am doing a mixture of General Medicine, Consultant at the Acute Referral Unit at the Repatriation General Hospital and Palliative Care at the Adelaide Cancer Centre. I have worked in most of the Public Palliative Care Services since I embarked on this pathway since 2000. I have also been involved in teaching medical students, mentoring physician trainees and supervising Interns who come through our Unit.
It was through Odette’s presentation at the conference that I was challenged and encouraged to offer my service and also to learn how a mentoring collaboration could be established, perhaps in Africa!