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Official Magazine of the Australian Medical Students’ Association Volume 49 Edition 1, July 2015

t ’ n O D I “ ” E d H e T m o d t s Ju n o i t i Ed

L A C I D E M N A I L A R T S THE AU : N O I T A I C O S S A ’ S T N STUDE t u o b a l l a e r ’ e w t a h W


he Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) is the peak representative body for medical students in Australia. Each of the 20 medical schools in Australia elects a representative to sit on AMSA Council, which is the primary decision-making body of the Association. The key mandate of AMSA is to connect, inform and represent Australia’s 17,000 medical students. AMSA’s core operations are aimed at realising this mandate. These operations include: Advocacy – AMSA advocates for medical students through policy development, advocacy campaigns and representation to governments, universities and relevant medical and medicopolitical bodies. AMSA has a strong grass-roots approach to policy development whereby AMSA Subcommittees produce and review policy and other initiatives. These are chaired by local AMSA Representatives at medical schools throughout the country.

Events, programs and projects – Medical students from across the country are able to connect with peers by participating in AMSA’s renowned educational, social and leadership events and programs. AMSA runs projects across several different areas including those designed to improve medical student health and wellbeing and others for community participation. Global, rural and Indigenous health – Global health, rural health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health are important focus areas for AMSA and its members. AMSA provides specific opportunities for medical students to become actively involved in these areas while still studying, for example through AMSA’s popular AMSA Global Health committee. Publications – AMSA produces many publications which are distributed electronically and in physical copies. These publications are an important conduit through which AMSA connects and informs Australian medical students.

Contents From the editor and president 04 I Don’t Just do med, I am also a professional Model


The Life of a medicine-studying shark whisperer


Medical student by day, professional footballer by night


That Time Kate ran for parliament


What does a theatre and myosin have in common?


The common rounds: a novel way to learn medical things


I Don’t Just do med, I also (jointly) own (Help) run vale brewing 16 I don’t just do med, I also Race cars professionally


Just your Not So average guy 20 Work/life balance: The perspective of a first time uni Student


Thank you for teaching me 22 I don’t just do med, I Am also a competitive powerlifter


Why should we do other stuff outside med?


I don’t just do med, I also flute and orchestra too


I don’t just do med, I Am also an evironmental health advocate


Dance, dance, dance 30 I don’t just do med, I am also an elite 400m sprinter


I don’t just do med, I am also a proud parent


I don’t just do med, I Am also an evironmental health advocate (2) 35 I don’t just do med, I am also a mad keen Crocheter


I Don’t Just do Med, I Am Also a karate Master


I don’t just do med, I also volunteer for deaf services Qld


Jeeeoooonnn SNOOOOOWAH! 43 Achieving Balance in med school - How is this possible?


The art and craft of doing Anything but medicine


Panacea Volue 49 Edition 1, July 2015 To advertise with AMSA, contact For any enquiries about this publication, contact Printed by Printnova, Newcastle NSW THis edition of panacea is dedicated to all Twenty 2015 AMSA Representatives.You guys rock. Panacea 3

Med School? What Med Sc hool? Ming Yong & Jame s Lawler


love cricket. Ever since the 1995 World Cup, where my dad made me stay up to watch Australia lose the final to Sri Lanka, I knew that I was going to be an Australian cricketer.

I batted just like Mark Waugh, and broke all of Don Bradman’s records in my backyard. I dreamed of hammering bowling attacks from around the world for 6 sixes every over, and winning one day matches with a last-ball four like Michael Bevan. Unfortunately, when I began playing cricket at my local club, the reality of my ability did not match my expectations. I batted more like Glenn McGrath, and although I was often successful with my slow-ish pace bowling, the Australian selectors were never made aware of my abilities. When I reached the age of 16, I gave up playing cricket, and resigned myself to the fact that I’d never represent my country playing sport. It wasn’t until a few years ago that a friend of mine asked me to fill in for his team playing indoor cricket that I picked up my bat again. For those of you who haven’t seen it, indoor cricket is played in a narrow net, with a few metres either side of the pitch. The idea is that the batters need to nudge the ball into the surrounding nets to pick up bonus runs, and pick up at least a single run as well to score. It’s fast paced. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, an Italian psychologist, defines “flow” as the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement and enjoyment in the process of the activity (it’s also known as being “in the zone”). For me, I’m “flowing” when I’m playing indoor cricket - I’m not thinking about an unsent email or a report I need to write, but I’m thinking about where to hit the next ball, or how to bowl the next ball so that it’s unplayable. For me, that is the importance of having a hobby - to put yourself in a state where you are completely immersed in an activity, and then to reflect upon that state of attention and attempt to bring it to your day-to-day life.

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James AMSA President 2015


very year, I do this thing I call ‘the Pilgrimage’. It may sound like some fancy soulsearching activity but in reality, all it is is me shamelessly re-watching all 85 episodes of the now-canceled TV show Ugly Betty.

For those of you who don’t know the premise of Ugly Betty, it is about Betty, a not so attractive woman on the outside, but with oh so much ambition and a heart of gold on the inside. Betty works as the assistant to the Editor-in-Chief of a Fashion Magazine in Manhattan, and each episode, to say the least, focuses on her navigating through the fashion publishing industry, and balancing work and family. I first watched Ugly Betty while randomly flicking through channels on TV in 2006. I remember being so mesmerised by the bizarre and outlandish, yet quirky world of Publishing that I thought, why not give it a go? I like to think that since that fateful day nine years ago, the rest, as they say, is history. Putting magazines together is my passion and layout design, my hobby. It has nothing to do with Medicine, which is why I love it so much. To me, managing magazines is an escape from the books. It gives me the opportunity for a change in scenery, and a canvas on which to paint my creativity. In short, it keeps my life balanced and it keeps me healthy. Everyone has that something they do to keep them sane from the demands of Medicine, and this edition of Panacea was put together with that in mind. We aimed to collect stories from around the country about the amazing things people do to keep a healthy worklife balance, and I like to think we have done a pretty good job at that! I certainly have been inspired by these stories, and I hope you will too. Above all, I hope this magazine provides you with an enjoyable read. If it does or it has, I count my job as well and truly worth it.


Panacea 2015 Editor-in-Chief

The AMA Careers Advisory Service is your one-stop shop for expert advice, support and guidance to help navigate your medical career. Interview practice, CV reviews, application guidance, junior doctor employment guides – we have all the top tips and tools to give you the competitive edge to reach your career goals.

, d e m o d t s u J t ’ a n o o s l I D I AM A l a n o i s s e f o r p Model


aid l e d A wn, o r B y le Kimber


ome refer to me as Izzy while others call me ‘Slice’ (Kimboslice), ‘Burly’ (referring to my lack of sealegs) or someone once named me ‘Legs 11’ (self explanatory) - Whatever you call me, I am a medical student. Well… a model as well as a medical student. At 14 I was already fully grown, I stood out like a sore thumb at the Royal Adelaide Show. An agent spotted me and invited me to do a modelling course. My mother thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to teach her tomboy daughter some skills in deportment, make up and fashion. I took a while to warm up but I gradually started to get jobs. My mother chauffeured me back and forth and would wait in the car while I would attend castings or shows. The industry and I parted ways in Year 12 as I needed to focus on my studies but we were reacquainted after exams. I joined Finesse models, the biggest and best of Adelaide. I took a gap year after year 12 and did a lot of modelling work. The industry grew on me and I loved the fashion, the people and the girls I worked with were awesome to hang out with backstage. Although, I knew that as much as I loved the work, it would never be what I wanted to do with my life, it made sense to go to uni and do it part time.

To date, I have done fashion shoots and a few commercials for magazines, local designers and companies, such as Hills magazine, Attitude magazine, The Advertiser, The Sunday mail, Brides of Adelaide, National Pharmacies, Liza Emanuele, SA Life, Polo Australia, Thoroughbred racing and many more. However, catwalk is my main niche. I walk for local designers, larger companies who affiliate with designers such as Myers and David Jones, Westfield shopping centres, wedding conventions and fashion week. I love the adrenaline rush of the catwalk: the 30-second changes, the large crowds, and the larger than life hair and make up.

The industry is foreign territory to most and can be judged harshly and inaccurately. I personally have never found it bitchy or unpleasant and some of my best friends I have met through modelling. Fashion designers work their butts of and have one parade to sell their life’s work - naturally, they are very selective in their choice of models. Resilience and selfconfidence evolve from such environments. I have never been open about this part of my life, as association with this world beckons a sizeable amount of judgement. However, I love the contrast between the fashion world and the medical world.

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ife before medicine was a much simpler time. I had just finished a degree in marine biology, was working full time as an aquarist (aquarium’s version of a zookeeper), and had just broken a Guinness World Record in the most pointless category imaginable; underwater bubble rings. “The Shark Whisperer” they called me, or rather, I called myself and got it imprinted on my wetsuit sleeves and made business cards. But as is the same for all the medicallydestined, simple was not enough. I decided to sit the GAMSAT and book a ticket to California and the Caribbean for the very next weekend where I stayed for nearly a year, sipping on coconuts and consuming alcohol faster than the liver could remove it. It was glorious. Soon enough, reality struck. Somehow, I was one of the lucky ones that was accepted into medicine. I said goodbye to the Virgin Islands and jetted back home to Australia to begin my medical degree at the University of Sydney. After leaving the team for a year, my legend of an aquarium boss gave me my old job back in a part-time fashion, while I travelled down the complex-worded rabbithole of first year medicine. So now, my week consists of the mundane lectures, the questionable focus group problems of the week, and

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the practicals that go way over my head, and 2 days a week at the aquarium; doing one of the things I love most in this world. I’m also a legally authorised marriage celebrant in my spare time, but that’s another story. My typical day at “work” is essentially that of a glorified cleaner; we clean every tank in the building, every day. At first thought, you could be forgiven for thinking that doesn’t sound that rad. But when you consider the octopus incessantly grabbing your foot and trying to drag you into his lair, the 150 kilogram turtle insatiably wanting another head scratch, and the sheer magnificence of a hug from a 300 kilogram stingray with a barb that could end it all, it’s pretty dang amazing. We hand-feed the 3 metre Grey Nurse Sharks, give them their injections and even rescue wild ones from the ganghooks that would otherwise remain lodged in their throat until they slowly starved to death. On top of that, we have a colony of 16 fairy penguins that are incredibly huggable, until you pick one up and they insist on biting your hand off. It is because of this two days a week that I can maintain my sanity while studying medicine. 4 hours on SCUBA with the incredible array of animals in an aquarium

really takes your mind off things, and I couldn’t fathom a better way to cope with that med-life stress. The opportunity to continuously harvest my original passion while I pursue my new, is something that I will be eternally grateful for. Studying medicine is like a walk in the park, but the park has no end, no path, too many trees, and hidden monsters that you know are scary, but just can’t figure what they are or how they work. Particularly those neurology monsters. For me, my job as an aquarist is a park bench. It is somewhere I can sit down, drop my books, and drift with the current alongside the incredible critters I have always loved. Med-life is what you make it. You can choose to be overwhelmed in the endless wealth of knowledge that is medicine, or, you can maintain that balance of the simple things that make you, you.


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he terms medicine and professional football are not generally discussed in the same context, let alone used to describe a twenty-three year old. Fortunately for me, this is exactly how my life to date has unfolded. My name is Ari. I was born in Sydney, lived in Barcelona for three years, and moved to Townsville to pursue medicine at James Cook University. Ever since I can remember, my days have been jam-packed and fast paced. Be it in academia, sports, or simply sitting down for a beer with my mates, there has never been a dull moment to hold me down. At the age of 16, I was presented with an opportunity of a lifetime to play European football. A couple weeks later, I was living the dream in Spain, playing football twice a day, studying Spanish and sipping sangria in between. However, my endeavors overseas were not always as idyllic as it sounds. Living in a country where English was as

foreign to locals as eating dinner before 9:00pm, there were many challenges along the way. In my eyes, it was the prospect of overcoming these obstacles that became my motivation to stay, and in hindsight, planted the seeds to my future. My experiences away not only opened my mind to the world beyond my homely bubble, but taught me the values of patience, perseverance, and self-discipline – all essential skills required for success on both the football pitch and in the consultation room. After completing the International Baccalaureate, I returned to Australia to explore the wonders of the human body and JCU became my destination. Moving to the tropics was a simple decision following my international stint, and since day one, I have not looked back. My time thus far in the north has been rewarding and enjoyable. Not every medical student can say they attended three lectures and still managed to swim at the beach before noon on a winter’s day.

I also still manage to play football at the highest level in Queensland with the ex-A-League club Northern Fury. People always wonder how I train 4 times a week, travel throughout the state for matches, and still meet the study load (honestly, if it weren’t for the notes I take on the plane, I would never have passed first year). Nonetheless, combining these physical and intellectual demands takes a toll on the mind and body but I would not have it any other way. Having these two diverse passions provides me with the perfect stress release and enables me to switch from one activity to the next whilst putting 100% into each. This balance not only nurtures my mental health, but also satisfies my outdoor inclinations: a win-win all round. It also keeps life interesting with infinite possibilities. And who knows, maybe my dream of being the first professional footballer that doubles as the team’s medic may not be such a fantasy. Until then, it’s back to the books and back into reality.

l t a n on e d si ht u st fes nig l ro y a c p b i d y, er e M da ll CU J a by otb an , m o s f iI Ar

e t a K e m i t t a h t ran for t n e m a i l par h , Monas d

fiel x a M e t Ka


hat made you decide to run for ALP candidate for Gippsland East?

I have always had a passion for social justice and after having it lead me into medicine, it was almost inevitable that it would lead me to politics. My passion for social justice is enlivened by what can be achieved in politics, whether it be improving health outcomes, increasing foreign aid or just improving peoples’ day to day lives. Being born and raised in rural communities with frustratingly unacceptable socio-economic outcomes, I was also always drawn to what should be delivered to rural communities. How did this mesh in with what you were doing in medicine at the time? Standing for parliament in country Victoria was a very natural extension of my medical studies. Being placed in rural areas across Victoria, I’ve witnessed first hand the inequity in health outcomes faced by rural patients. Whilst I have been inspired by the commitments of rural GPs, nurses and other health practitioners in rural areas, the sad reality is that they need more support to do their jobs as best they can. These communities need greater funding, greater health education, greater mental health services, greater job opportunities, and a wider array of other things to improve health

outcomes. As a medical student I can hope to improve the lives and health outcomes of my patients and communities, but as a political activist, I can help to improve the health system itself and therefore the lives of fellow country Victorians.

up the mantle and utilise their knowledge of the health system and advocate, or get actively involved, in improvising it rather than just accepting it the way it is. I can be improved, and as health practitioners, we need to be at the forefront of that drive to improve it.

How did it go?

What is something that you think other medical students should take from your experience?

Despite the nerves, it was a really eye-opening experience. In the end I didn’t win, but I had a decent swing, with approximately 31% of the vote - but the highlight was most certainly being able to advocate for improved rural health, particularly emergency healthcare. Whilst having to debate ministers on live radio can be daunting, spending time with committed volunteers, activists and my campaign team ensured I was constantly inspired and confident that what I was doing was helping lead the change that I know rural communities need. Do you see yourself running again or being politically involved in the future? Whilst I enjoyed running for Parliament and am very committed to achieving positive reform, I suspect I will have to let my study commitments take priority for the time being. That said, I will always find time to speak out for what I believe in and get involved when I can - and I strongly encourage fellow students to take

For any other medical students interested in running for Parliament, I’d recommend not doing it during exam periods! But on a serious note, I feel medical students need to appreciate how important politics is, particularly its influence on the medical world. As medical students, we see a lot of confronting things, and I strongly believe that if you see something that can be changed, then stand up and change it! What are you up to in 2015? This year, I’ll be completing my final year in rural and metro hospitals as well as continuing my involvement in the Labor party and an external leadership program. In the med student world, I’m coordinating the MUMUS’s mentor program, Momentum, and I am part of the AMSA Convention social team. I might also find a bit of time to debate politics with my friends, and volunteer a little for the Labor party and other NGOs.

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What does a theatrE and myosin have in common? they both have a stage for actin! Oliver HOvav, Wollongong


hy do you exercise? Maybe it’s for your health? That would make sense, since you are studying medicine after all. Maybe it is for the social aspect? Also reasonable - comparative medical students don’t get out too much. Maybe looking good for that classmate in Anatomy plays a role, but then against a backdrop of formaldehyde and latex gloves, looking fit might not be enough… Medicine is a great balancing act. Most medical students struggle to maintain the balance; eat, sleep, study, repeat. So can you fit exercise in? Attend any medical school and you will quickly realise the varying walks of life each individual comes from and between undergrads and postgrads, the sporting spirit remains. One common denominator that brings us together is the competitive edge. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t have that. Persevering through the UMAT or GAMSAT and selection process is no easy feat but using motivation and drive to your advantage brought you to the desk you are at now. That alone

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gives you enough edge to pick up a ball and step out onto a field. For some people, motivation and competition doesn’t stop with one task and begin at the next. Nonetheless, when it comes to exercising with your peers it’s important to remember that it is not always about being the best and winning. In the cultural melting pot known as Nowra NSW, there is a group of medical students facilitating this sporting edge under the alias of the group ‘SPARTA’. Regardless of fitness level, skill level and (the all-important) competitive streak, all students join in regular sporting activities. This desire to compete and get active spreads beyond the rural campuses to the main hub in the Gong. The University of Wollongong 2017 cohort has a pretty formidable mixed netball team. Team 2017 (aka the Flying Flagella) were hot stuff in the recent mixed netball competition. Want to see motivation and competitiveness? You could do a study on those guys. But this year there’s a new team in town, Team 2018 (The Rowdy Ribosomes)

and they were there to ruffle some feathers. Let me tell you, pre-game was vicious. Words were exchanged, coffees were sabotaged and bicycle tyres were deflated. At full-time it was the new kids on the block who triumphed but there were handshakes and smiles all round. Words were retracted, new coffees were purchase and tyres were re-inflated. Now this isn’t some feel-good-everyone-isa-winner thing. Rather that there’s a time and place for competition and there’s a time when just getting your heart rate up is all that matters. So go on, get out there and get more exercise than turning pages in Kumar and Clarke. Go for a run, grab a racket, kick a ball, hit a ball, throw a frisbee, tackle a random and shake what your mamma gave you. Increase that cardiac output and make that actin/myosin work work work. Most importantly, have some fun with those you have to spend miserable exam time with and who knows, you might meet that someone special in anatomy class.

The common rounds: A novel way to learn new MedICAL things Hamed Shahnam ,Andy Hua and Gautam Bhanot, ANU


edical students are always searching for new and fresh ways to study. After all, reading textbooks and listening to lecture recordings gets boring‌ really quick. Content creators have made awesome YouTube videos to satisfy our hungry appetites for knowledge. However there are plenty of times where it’s not feasible to pull out your phone and watch them on the go. With this in mind, some classmates and I from the Australian National University have developed an alternate method of learning. We wanted to transform the time potentially wasted each day from commuting, walking the dog or while cleaning the

house into valuable study time. In short, we wanted to make every second of your day count. For this reason we have embarked on an extremely ambitious and exciting project we have humbly called The Common Rounds (a take on the more auspicious Grand Rounds). The Common Rounds is a podcast series focusing on medical education for medical students by medical students. We systematically cover general physiology and pathologies topics in a similar fashion to the block formats taught in medical school. Instead of the 1 hour-long lecture, we break it down to 20-30 min episodes focusing on delivering the essential points of each topic in an engaging conversation format.

For those students who are in their clinical years, we have a segment called Doctor Talks that contain interviews with specialists and medical leaders that shape the next generation of the medical workforce. We hope to be a platform where students can be inspired and gain insight on post-grad career pathways, as well as national and international opportunities. So come check us out on thecommonrounds.wordpress. com or subscribe to us on iTunes under Common Rounds. - The Common Rounds Team

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e make Vale Ale and a bunch of other fantastic beers and ciders. To be fair I’m kind of cheating, I’ve deferred my final year at Flinders to spend more time with the brewery, after my brothers and I took full ownership at the start of the year. It’s pretty cool. We bought a little share back in 2008, just after the company had started, and have slowly increased our stake since then. Up until this year, my contribution to the running had been pretty light – it’s been great to step up.

I don’t just do med I also (jointly) own and (help) run Vale Brewing

This week I have had a company director’s course where I met a GP who was the stereotype of old school medical attitudes: “You won’t have the opportunity to do both; medicine is all consuming” Does it really have to be? I hope not. Anyway, apart from the director’s course I’ve had a heap of new experiences. Last week I had a media training session – it was like watching myself fumbling around with SPs all over again – and we’ve also been working on website design and content, business and brand direction, marketing, social media and lots of other things I’ve never thought about until now. It also means lots of time in bars and pubs, which is a good excuse for real work.

Michael CollIn, Flinders

My plan is to return to medicine next year – when I’ve hopefully got a good handle of the business – and retain a director’s position with the company from then on. Will I be able to do both? I really hope so. Medicine is amazing, and so is beer; plus, its fun not to be a shit-kicker every now and then. Be Silly. Be Honest. Be Kind. – Emerson

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hen my good friends from school introduce me to new faces, they regularly do so with a line that makes me cringe and scramble for a semblance of modesty – “This is James. He’s a race car driving medical student”. That is an awkward introduction. I began my involvement in motorsport during the 1st grade. On Christmas I walked downstairs to find a go-kart – I knew what it was because we had a hirekart track near our home. That year I began competing locally in NSW, and the following year that catching-net grew substantially. I suppose I was reasonably successful in my chosen sport, and by the age of 15 I had won a host of state and national championships and begun racing cars throughout Asia and the Americas. I became one of the youngest competitors to ever compete in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), which was an endurance sports car championship in which many renowned sportspeople competed.

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During my time competing, my parents were split in their ideas. A large part of the time, they were supporting of my sporting aspirations, but they would throw in the occasional, “Have you thought about medicine?” (That sentence makes my parents seem rather demanding – but they’re lovely). I always replied to their question the same way, that I had absolutely no intention of ever being a doctor and that if I were to study further, it would involve engineering – because that seemed very “racecaresque”. That was until I spent 2 weeks studying engineering and decided I wanted to do anything







Through all of this, I was travelling the world with good friends and competing in front of tens of thousands of fans, some of who waved giant foam fingers coloured with my name. It was an incredibly surreal experience and sometimes I wonder how I ever normalise it. In 2010, I was recognised by the Australian Motorsport Federation by being awarded the International Rising Star grant.









but study engineering. I took time to evaluate what I would like to do, completely forgot about my parents suggestion, tried my hand in a few jobs and volunteering roles, and decided I would not only be interested in studying medicine, I would enjoy being a doctor, too. It sounds a little odd, but without my involvement in motorsport I would never have made it into medicine. I must have missed a third of my school classes, but having a passion outside of the world of academia, especially an individual sport of high-risk, helped my focus a great deal – so I am thankful for that. Even more, I feel it’s important to be able to take a step away from medicine when you can, whether that is through baking cupcakes or participating in a lifethreatening, high-octane sport (whatever floats your boat – no judgment here). I am certainly one in favour of constructive escapism and encourage everyone to continue their passions along with their studies.

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Just your Not So Average guy Alexander Stevanovic , Flinders


ecently, during a particularly irksome tute, the conversation between Mr Consultant and I led me to realise something: Mr Consultant believes I do nothing but avoid study, drink coffee, waste taxpayers money and fail to answer the minutiae of his chosen specialty. Obviously this made me froth with frustration and I thought... Bitch Please! I don’t just do med, I also... WORK AS AN RN - because slaving away on wards for free just doesn’t do enough for me. I pick up weekend shifts in ED/Trauma for the good of humanity (LIES for the sweeeet weekend loading) and spend my days shocking ACS victims back to life, redirecting demented grannies, being abused by drunks and reassuring Mr Scabs McGee that ACNE IS NOT AN EMERGENCY COMPLAINT! Seriously, if I’m looking particularly empty headed during a 9am tutorial, it might be because I finished work two hours earlier! That blank stare plastered on my face is a facade barely concealing the horrors of the previous evening: helping that granny finally open her bowels “I know it hurts Mrs K, but it’s been in there so long it’s probably a diamond”, educating the plebs “Mr S, I know google might have said so, but you can’t have ovarian cancer!” And for the love of

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god people, if you’re going to put something inside yourself SECURE IT FIRST! Then, once you arrive in ED, just be honest about it. No one believes you ‘fell over in the garden’, or ‘slipped in the shower’ - and if you did, the fact that you’re that well lubricated and can accommodate phallic objects so easily has me clenching my butt cheeks! MODEL PART-TIME - because being neurotic about my study habits is only bested by being neurotic about my body image and staying ‘sample size’. So while everyone is out getting crunk on the d-floor; I’m hauling ass on that stairmaster and contemplating whether self inserting an NGT will help alleviate all of those uncomfortable feelings I ate last night. For reals, nothing makes me regret studying med more than knowing I could be getting paid to stand and pose instead of studying. If there is one thing more infuriating than gastroenterology, it’s seeing friends take selfies in milan and getting free business class upgrades while I’m sticking fingers in ani. GET OUT AND EXERCISE - because nothing makes me feel more fulfilled than having my gym selfies liked on instagram (seriously IG: a_stevo). Well actually it’s because I don’t want to be that unhappy, unfit, unapologetic consultant that got straight into their speciality training

program right out of internship, and whose personality has withered and died because it never got any sunlight. Get out of the library Sheeple! WATCH SH*TLOADS OF TV - because comparing clinical practice to Grey’s Anatomy is a great learning experience. Please, I just pick faults in medical and nursing care, and wonder why these derps are getting paid squillions to mishandle equipment and manhandle each other when I have a perfectly good performing arts degree I could be putting to use. Like for real, I went to WAAPA, met Hugh Jackman - totes legit (and he’s actually a really cool guy) WRITE CHILDREN’S STORIES because A* journals are so last season. Seriously, writing stories about boogeymen and angels is easy and can come with royalties; so why would I bother with research and critical analysis when I could be the next JK Rowling. Plus, childrens books have much better pictures! So yes, after much ranting you see I’m not just some coffee guzzling, government benefitted waste of space. I’m a real human being with my own wants and needs!! So next time you scoff or snap your steth in my direction just remember this baby doctor has bite, this little medling might be damn tired, and that Mister Sister has a mean arm for throwing bedpans.

Work/Life Balance: The Perspective Of a First Time Uni Student Madeline Temple , Newcastle


hen I told my friends I was studying medicine in 2015, the phrase ‘my life outside a medicine degree’ wasn’t at the top of their list – more like, ‘you know it’s a 30 hour week right?’ and ‘don’t you faint at the sight of blood?’ But to me, studying medicine didn’t mean I couldn’t do all the other activities I love to do. I guess I should start off by introducing myself – I’m Maddie and I’m a first year at Newcastle. Though I wish I could say that on the side of my Med degree I was the female pentathlete who represented Australia at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, or an actress-slash-model-slash-pop star, I have to confess - despite my stunningly good looks - I’m still just a naïve first-time Uni student, 9 weeks in, and trying to work out that work/life balance. And when it comes to activities outside the mundane

tutorial-, lecture-, teaching- and learning-filled life of medicine, my greatest claim to fame is the founder of Tony Awards/ Eurovision appreciation among my friends – impressive, right? But in all seriousness, no matter how mundane the activity, fun outside of Med has helped me to meet new people, explore my passions and keeps me from ripping Davidsons to shreds (and yes, I stupidly bought the hardcopy). So where to start? Whenever I’m home in Sydney I love to play my cello, and from time to time I do some gigs with my friends in a quartet as a job on the side. Ever since I was in musicals and plays during high school I’ve also been obsessed with singing, and though most of my practice happens in the shower or while doing the dishes, hopefully I’ll be able to show off my talent in our upcoming Medrevue. Exercise is also really important to me and joining team basketball has helped

me keep fit and get to know other people in my degree and make new friends. I’ve found cooking is a great way to de-stress from studies too - and not just the usual procrasti-baking, but also learning recipes from my mum and grandma. Almost every Saturday afternoon, we work in the kitchen on different dishes we might have seen and want to try, or traditional Greek meals and techniques that have been in my family for years, and then share the food we’ve made with family and friends (and maybe someday my PBL group if I can work out how to freeze rice pudding). All of these activities – though they’re not the work of a triathlete or a movie star – help me to keep balance in my life and enjoy my time at University. So bitch please, I’m not just a med student…

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hen I first started medicine in 2012, I knew that I didn’t want it to completely consume my life. I’d been told by previous students about how easy it is to get engulfed and lose who you once were to the torrent of assignments, contact hours, study and more study. Participating in fulfilling and rewarding volunteer projects outside of medicine was one of the few things which sustained my mental health during the first years of the degree. My sense of self and my perception of who I was were nearly completely annihilated by being in an environment where I definitely wasn’t the smartest anymore, where things were moving at such a rapid pace and where I felt completely out of control. One of the things that helped me deal with it all was teaching! Teaching is something I always thoroughly enjoyed and which made me feel like I was making a tangible contribution to the world - unlike the unending, mind-numbing two years of lectures. I have been trying to do it as much as possible between medical commitments. From years 1 to 3 of my medical degree, I tutored on weekends, conducted classes for high school students and volunteered as a teacher aide. This year, at the school I have been volunteering in for three years, I’d accepted the role of teaching Arabic to a class of 25 students. I could sit with you and tell you the life story of every single one of these students, what I worry about for them, and what I wish I could do for them. I could talk about them forever. Instead, I’ll only tell you about three. Let’s call my first student Sara. She’s from a broken family, with many mental scars. I remember hearing the term “compromised parental capacity” and not concretely understanding it until I met her and her family. Knowing her made me see how privileged I am and how

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much I take for granted. I come from what can reasonably be described as an educated, financially secure, loving family, and those things are so important, so rare and so special, especially to a vulnerable child. Being secure in the knowledge that my mother loved me and knowing that there’s a warm hug waiting for me are two things which I don’t think someone like Sara has experienced often. What hurts most is that I’m not sure if my role as a caring, loving, invested teacher will change anything in her life. I’d love to cling onto resilience studies which show that having a mentor in a child’s life can help a child develop resilience and overcome the adversity they have been subjected to. But, I’m not sure about my abilities as a mentor; I don’t know what I’m supposed to do; I’m not sure how to empower her, support her and push her to achieve more. How does one even start to help a child like her achieve the type of life she deserves? I saw, from the first few lessons we had together, that she had very refined leadership skills, a very keen sense of responsibility and amazing organisational skills: probably from caring for her younger siblings for many years. My current, and very nebulous, plan for her is to try to create a nurturing classroom environment where these skills can be expressed, challenged and developed as much as possible. My second student, who I’ll call Maryam, is one who is extremely motivated. She knows that she wants to study Arabic in VCE and endeavours to become as proficient as possible. She’s our class’s quiet genius. If you ask the whole class a difficult question, she would not answer. However, if you ask her directly, you’d probably see that she knows much more than you do. I really worry about her in future years. I worry about her not asking for help and not reaching her full potential because she did not reach out to those around her: because she was too afraid to bother the busy giants by standing on their

shoulders. It’s disconcerting and frightening how easy it is for me to forget that she’s in the class if I’m not consciously trying to help her. I wish the 80 minutes I have with them each week would warp somehow to allow me to focus on each individual student and address their needs. Even for very expertly trained and experienced teachers, though, that’s almost impossible. Another student I have, who we shall call Ali, is one who is not interested in education. The system of sitting in a classroom quietly, listening to a teacher, not being free, just doesn’t suit him. My medical mind was tempted to force a label on his behavior, especially after my paediatrics rotation. But, when I actually think about it, he doesn’t have ADHD, ODD, a learning disability, hearing problem, autism or any of the other conditions I’ve studied about: he just isn’t interested in sitting quietly in a classroom. He wants to explore the outside, collect different types of worms and beetles, smell the different twigs and feel the texture of mud after the rain. I’ve worked very hard with him to create an individual lesson plan every week that suits him and that he is interested in. It’s full of hands on activities that satisfy the curious kinaesthetic learner in him. The first day he did not sneak out of class in the middle of a lesson was such a reaffirming moment for me! All the time invested in making learning fun and engaging for him had finally paid off. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the trust that the children and their parents have placed in me. There’s no better healing from the stress of medicine than spending time with my adorable little wide-eyed, loving angels. I have probably gained as much out of the experience as the children and their families, if not more. I just wish there was more I could offer.


Thank y ou for Teachin g Me ALFAY ADH , MOnash

I Don’t Just do med, I AM Also A Competitive powerlifter Asheesh Elete, Bond


ello AMSA world, my name is Asheesh Elete and I am currently a 2nd Year Medical student at Bond University. Along with studying Medicine, Bond has allowed me to pursue the sport of Powerlifting.

At competitions, people are separated based on 3 simple things; Gender, Age and Weight classes. I personally am a 19 year old (Junior age group is 19-24) male who competes in the under 105kg and under 93kg weight classes.

For the many that probably haven’t even heard of Powerlifting, I will give you guys a quick run down of what’s doing.

So how exactly did I end up powerlifting? Well basically after I finished high school and stopped playing rugby, I had gained a loooot of weight. I was roughly 115kg and it most certainly was not muscle. Going into my first year of uni, something had to change so I did what everyone else did - joined a local gym. After 4 to 5 months of some borderline stupid dieting, I had reached my goal weight of 90kgs but faced with another problem. What do I do now? I began researching new programs to do and discovered Powerlifting, a simple sport which involved being as strong as possible on my 3 favourite lifts. Too easy.

Powerlifting is a sport where each competitor has 3 attempts at the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift (in that order). The highest successfully completed lift from each movement is recorded and contributes towards the competitor’s total. For example if Person A squats 100kg, bench presses 100kg and deadlifts 100kg, their total is 300kg (serious mathematics skills are not a required to be a successful Powerlifter, hence the appeal).

Once I got to Bond I had the great fortune of running into a National Coach, Matthew Stewart and some other champion Powerlifters including Lucas Helmke and Olivia McConnel. They have furthered my interest in the sport and form a great support system in this individual sport. I have almost 4 years left as Junior competitor during which I aim to set National Junior U93kg records in the Squat, Deadlift and Overall Total. I also aim to hopefully win Gold at Junior Nationals allowing me to compete at overseas competition such as the World or Commonwealth Championships The main Powerlifting organisation in the world is the International Federation of Powerlifting (IPF) and its Australian affiliate is Powerlifting Australia. Anyone interested in learning more about the sport or is keen to compete should give those two names a quick Google.

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Why Sho uld we Do Othe r Stuff o utside Med? SOPHIE GLASS, JCU


hat do you to?

Such a harmless, innocuous question, but very difficult for me to answer. The simple answer is “I study medicine”, however the reality is more complicated than that. Throughout my life I’ve been lucky enough to be presented with various opportunities to do more. I’ve been involved in a range of activities external to the academic, providing me with a wealth of experiences I would have otherwise never encountered. Many of these are external to university, but many are also within the university environment. Both have equal value. University is an exciting time. Students are typically thought of as being idealistic and carefree, or studious and academic. This may hold true for some students, however there is a fusion of academic and secondary activities that exist to provide an exploration a wide range of peripheral interests. Universities recognize this and have a multitude of student-run clubs and societies tailored to various interests. Whether these are debating, musical theatre or

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ultimate Frisbee, they have the ability to provide a creative outlet, facilitate development of new and pre-existing skills – and are fun! Beyond this, The Journal of Adolescent Research published a paper that showed the correlation with extracurricular involvement and increased academic performance and better time management skills – a common worry for time-poor students. They can also improve social relationships and networking abilities, facilitate an accumulation of new skills and positive engagement in communities, and give people a positive view of their own abilities – confidence and competence. Evidence shows that students who participate in extracurricular activities have lower university discontinuation rates and higher marks. All in all, engaging in activities beyond your university education results in a plethora of positive outcomes. Contrary to popular belief, this does not always require looking farther than your own backyard. Medical schools are a fantastic resource, with a wealth of opportunities to take advantage

of. For the most part, this is underutilized. AMSA is exemplar of this. Global health opportunities, leadership positions, advocacy for Indigenous people and refugees, and many more initiatives exist within AMSA that encourage students to get involved. Adding to these are the individual medical schools initiatives. Med Revues, interfaculty sport and volunteering opportunities are just a few of the potential ways to participate. So in answer to the question “what do you do?”, I can answer that pretty confidently with “I study medicine. But I also run youth camps, am involved in three university societies, write a blog, play music and do whatever else comes my way”. The value of doing more is well founded. They take time, yes, but the positive attributes gained far outweigh the time taken – and can even improve your time management skills and academic abilities. Having these opportunities pretty much handed to us is a privilege that inarguably should and can be utilized and enjoyed by all medical students.

I Don’t Just do med, I Flute And Orc hestra Too AUS

If I were not a medical student, I would probably be a full-time musician. Just like Albert Einstein, “I often think in music, I live my daydreams in music, and I see my life in terms of music.” I ultimately want to practise in the field of neurology exploring music as a potential treatment strategy for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.” Austin Lee (flute) commenced his flute studies in South Korea at the age of eight, and then went on to study flute with Kellie Grennan from the age of fourteen. He was awarded his ATCL diploma in 2010 and LTCL diploma in 2014 from Trinity College London, both with distinction. Austin was the school music captain as well as the leader of various flute ensembles in his final year at The King’s School, Parramatta. He received full marks for his music extension course for the HSC, and subsequently a nomination for the HSC Encore. Austin has participated and won in various eisteddfods and concerto competitions in both South Korea and Australia. Most recently,


he received a ‘Highly Commended’ award at the 2013 NSW Flute Eisteddfod. He has also participated in masterclasses and lessons with internationally renowned flautists such as Alexa Still and Jane Rutter, and played flute with the Peter Seymour Orchestra (one of the Sydney Youth Orchestras in 2008-09) and the SBS Radio and Television Youth Orchestra (2013). He is currently playing the flute/piccolo in the North Sydney Youth Symphony (NSYS) and North Sydney Symphony Orchestra (NSSO). As a soloist, Austin performed Carl Stamitz’s Flute Concerto in G Major, Op. 29 with the Bundang Junior Philharmonic Orchestra in South Korea at the age of twelve, and François Borne’s Fantaisie brillante sur ‘Carmen’ with the UNSW Symphony Orchestra in 2013. Austin is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Medicine and Arts (majoring in music) at UNSW, where he is principal flute with the UNSW Symphony Orchestra. He plays a handmade Altus flute with a gold Tomasi head joint. He also dabbles in “beatboxflute”!

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I , d e m o d t s u J I Don’t L A T N E M N O R I V N E AM Also AN E T A C O V D A H T L A E H



first became aware of the health effects of climate change within three weeks of starting medicine in 2010. Since then, the health of the planet on which we live has slipped its way into every aspect of my life. My journey in advocacy on protecting our environment has led me to organising local events, coordinating national projects, presenting and running workshops at local, national and international events, writing policies, writing an international program proposal on the environment and health for the International Federation of Medical Students’ Association, and even going to a training session given by Al Gore.

5.63 kg of CO2 per day, which is about double that of a vegan diet at 2.89 kg CO2. In the past, I have lived largely on dumpster-dived food in an effort to minimise waste. I eat a mostly vegan diet, run 3 hour plus races, donate blood and still manage to maintain a decent haemoglobin, so I must be doing something right. I also try to limit driving to only when it is absolutely necessary, cycling to the hospital most days. Driving a car produces about 2.7 kg of greenhouse gas per litre of petrol. I also think about what else I am financially supporting by keeping my money in superannuation and a bank that don’t invest in environmentally destructive projects.

I have also met with politicians, written articles and opinion pieces and have been featured in newspaper and radio interviews. For those of you who are friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that almost everything I share is about the environment and health.

I constantly question myself whether my actions are environmentally destructive or beneficial. For example, recently I flew to Istanbul to run a workshop for medical students from around the world. According to a carbon calculator, in these return flights I would have emitted 2.4 tons of CO2. My hope is that my work there motivates actions that lead to an overall carbon negative effect to offset the large amount of emissions produced by my flights. For my next trip from Tasmania to Melbourne, I plan to cycle and take the Spirit of Tasmania, which will hopefully be a bit of an adventure!

Environmental sustainability is part of almost everything I do. I combined another interest of mine, long distance running, to run the Melbourne Marathon to raise money for Doctors for the Environment Australia. I try hard to eat an ethical diet, usually vegan, eating local produce wherever possible and avoiding carbon intensive food such as red meat and processed foods. An average meat eating diet produces around

By far the most rewarding part of what I do aside from medicine is meeting and getting to know incredible, passionate and

inspiring people. Through work with more organisations I can list, I have become friends with and been inspired by people both young and old, doctors, medical students and people from other interests and professions, all over the world, from as far as Hobart to Lebanon and many other places in every single region of the world. The motivation and actions of all of these people constantly amaze me and motivate me to strive to do the best that I can. Issues concerning our natural environment contribute to an estimated 23% of all deaths and 36% of all deaths among children 0 to 14 years old (WHO). As people who are dedicating our careers and effectively our lives to improving human health and wellbeing, I believe we should all be taking steps to minimise our own individual environmental footprint and advocating for measures to protect our natural environment at a local, national and global scale.

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Dance, Dance, Dance




y name is Stephanie, and I’m a third year medical student at the University of Sydney. It seems that I spend so much of my time doing things that aren’t related to medicine, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. They are mostly dance related activities, but I’ll get involved in nearly anything that isn’t med related. Since the age of 3, I have loved dancing and performing. In my early teens I practised ballet 4 to 5 times a week, but my dreams of becoming a ballerina were quickly shattered by both my mum, and my body’s horrible turn out and feet flexibility. However, I didn’t let that stop me from dancing for fun. I learnt ballet, jazz, contemporary and lyrical dance styles while I was at school, and joined all dance related sports including gymnastics, aerobics and cheerleading. After leaving school, I found it very hard to find adult dance classes. Most were either aimed at beginners or professional, and I was neither. I had a few other dancing friends who had the same issue.

So we decided to try something new that would satisfy our need to dance and be fun at the same time. Mostly out of curiosity at first, we tried pole dancing. Even though I left that first class feeling like I wasn’t strong enough to ever be able to do anything, we had such a blast that we signed up for a term. I have now been doing pole dancing on and off for about 5 years. It is tremendous fun and great for strength, and allows me to combine my love of dance and above average flexibility with some pretty awesome tricks, and it’s super impressive at the same time. I have still managed to continue performing since I’ve left school. Whether it’s dancing or singing, I’ve been in at least one production every year since I was in Year 10. I participated in three productions in my first year of medicine: Med Revue, the Intercollege Musical, and the Usyd Movement and Dance Society’s major showcase. I also teach ballet or jazz when I get a chance, and do a bit of choreography on the side. One of the things I’m most proud of in my life is the charity that I helped to establish called Nirmal Education Foundation. In 2013, after volunteering in a school in Nepal, I started a charity with a friend to continue raising money for and to support this school. It is a Melbourne based charity that aims to improve the resources and quality of education of Nirmal School in Kathmandu through our fundraising efforts. Finally, to fulfil my needs to never sit still, any spare time I have is usually spent in some form of community work. Whether it’s disability camps run with Legacy, volunteering time at fundraising events, or spending time with disadvantaged kids, I’ll always find something to keep myself busy. “…And you study medicine?”, I often get asked. Sometimes.

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I Don’t Just Do Med, I AM Also aN Elite 400m Sprinter William McNamara, UNSW What does your average day look like?


illiam McNamara is not just your ordinary medical student. When not in Cannulation 101, he twilights as an elite athlete who specialises in the 400m sprint.

William regularly competes at national and international events across the country and is in the top 10 in the country for his event. He is hopeful in making the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiro. To do this, he is required to train most days meaning that the juggling act between study and sports is a daily challenge. After reading about some of Will’s achievements in a recent UNSW Medicine publication, we wanted to ask him a few more questions:

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How did you get into athletics? When I was a child, I had so much energy that I had many primary school teachers questioning whether or not I had ADHD. In actual fact I just had a lot more energy than most kids my age and so my parents started me in little athletics in the hope that I might burn up some of that excess. To their disappointment, it failed to put a dent in my enthusiasm. I did, however, develop a passion for running fast, jumping high, and throwing far from a young age. The first 100m I ever ran I began in lane 8 and zig-zagged my way to end up in lane 1 at the finish line. Since then I’ve consistently been competing over the years and now it is a part of me. I hope that soon I can compete regularly on a world stage.

Most days are fairly busy. On average, uni usually begins around 9am and finishes around 4pm. My training sessions occur either before or after uni, depending on the session. What this means is that each morning my bag is packed to borderline explosive pressures for the next day to include all of my training gear, food, and uni items. The toughest days are the days where I have hospital because I need to pack additional hospital-appropriate clothing. Another challenge that I’m faced with on a daily basis is being able to fit in study. This requires organisation and opportunism. As long as I stay on the ball with my organisation, I manage to get everything done that I need to. Many of my friends have suggested to me in the past that I’m crazy and that I should just choose one. To them, I usually have two comments: 1) I personally need to do both. I would not be content if I didn’t; and 2) I believe that medicine and my sport compliment each other nicely. On a daily basis I am able to work my mind and my body AND I have found that each one benefits the other like symbiosis. When I am studying well, I am running well and vice versa.

I Don’t Just do med, I AM Also A Proud Parent CLAIRE FRANCIS, UWS


ast year, a consultant asked me “what kind of medical students do you want to be? Do you want to be a mediocre one or do you want to be a good doctor? Do you want to be the kind of student who parties all the time, and barely passes their exams by cramming, or the kind who works hard, and really cares and does well?“ It was the kind of question you’re not supposed to answer. But it’s a stupid question, and presents a false dichotomy. And it wasn’t intended kindly. And I’m not the brightest medical student, and I don’t always take my know-your-place pills, but I own a broad liberal arts education, and it seemed like a teachable moment ...and he didn’t like me anyway. I said “I’d like to be an amazing medical student, actually, but I’d also really like to be an amazing parent, and some weeks it all goes to hell and I fail at both and that’s unfortunate, but there it is”.

It was that kind of week. There was a silence so long that I excused myself and went home early.

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So, being a parent sometimes mean staying late to help the registrar near tears because she can’t get someone to pick up her kids, and you can, or making a huge fuss about the how much childcare late fees are if you don’t leave on time, or pointing out that childcare won’t take sick kids, because these things are evidently non-obvious, and someone has to say it. It’s sarcastically suggesting it would be better if you didn’t attach evidence for reasons you were absent, where the reason is “Headlice. All of Us. Again. Sorry.” It’s sitting in an emergency room doing your homework from the 11th edition of Harrison’s that some nice intern has leant you, while your kid who needs sutures try to sleep. It’s asking for an extension on your assignment, because your kid’s is due tomorrow, and he needs help. It’s Midnight Hives, which classically presents between 1600 and 1900 with a mildly sick kid with a rash. If you have an assignment due, they may have purpora and a headache. They are always fine in the morning. You have been awake all night checking on them.

Or their bestie was mean to them, or they saw on the news that people were killed, or they dreamed about their grandad dying and woke to the realisation that he will one day soon - their feelings aren’t little. And there goes your assignment. You can’t imagine how tired you get. And sometime you just need to dance in hail, and laugh, and play with your kids. I am a great parent. It’s one of the few things in the world I know for sure. And it is hard, and being a med student makes it harder, and sometimes I screw it up, and sometimes badly, but it’s a long game, and overall I love it. I’m good at it, and I know that for sure. We should see medicine the same way. I’m a great medical student, in the long game, but I also have other things to do. I can talk you through labour, I know how it feels to be a parent of an unwell child and I am praying for a question on headlice management in the barriers. And, occasionally, I also read up on physiology. The rest of the time, I’m a human being with a life; which is what I want in a doctor, personally.



have always had an appreciation for nature. As a little kid in Canada, I was outside in the ravine behind our house from morning til sundown. I was usually there with my brother, and together we would explore every tree, creek, and burrow we could find. That forest truly was our playground – and we both took it for granted. It wasn’t until I was in university that I realized our world’s ecosystems needed protecting; that climate change was a real thing and if global changes weren’t made, the impacts to our way of life would be significant. I tried to do my part from that point onwards. I always made sure to ration my use of electricity, recycle, take the stairs, ride my bike – in addition to participating in campus groups aimed at educating my peers on environmental issues. I considered it a personal mission to be an advocate for our climate and ensure others made sustainable choices in their lives too. This only amplified when I moved to Queensland for my medical studies at UQ. I became aware of an organization called Doctors for Environment Australia (DEA), a group of medical professionals and students who

focused on the human health impacts of climate change. I saw this as the perfect merger of two of my passions and decided to become involved. Having been involved for over a year now, I decided to contribute by convening the DEA annual conference in 2016. My motivation for this responsibility is multifaceted, but essentially my main drive to do this is the same that has inspired me since I was young – a desire to contribute to something bigger than myself. Unfortunately, many medical students have not considered the impacts of climate change on human health. As advocates for improved community health outcomes, we need to recognize that an increase in global temperatures impacts our food availability, our air quality, and our patterns of disease. I saw an opportunity to bring this message to Queensland by hosting the DEA conference in Brisbane.

competent doctors. However, what will make you an exceptional medical professional, and global citizen, is to discover your purpose and to ensure you take the time to nurture and fulfil that purpose. For me, coordinating a national conference is going to consume a considerable amount of my already limited free time. Yet, none of this will compare to the impact this will have on the delegates who attend the conference. And, like a drop of water hitting a still pond, perhaps attendees will pass on that knowledge to their communities back home. That will have made all the sacrifice worth it. I want to be a doctor to improve the lives of the people of my community, so why not get a start on it now?

Anyone who is currently, or has been, a medical student knows how all-consuming the program is. There is always a lecture to attend, a prac to prepare for, a test to study for. Certainly these things are important – they are what will prepare us to be

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I don’t jus t do med, I Am also a Mad Keen Crocheter Penny Allen , Anu


pon first consideration, medical school and crochet are about as far apart as two pursuits can be. Medicine is a field of scientific knowledge, technical ability and clinical excellence. Crochet is the kitsch but loveable nanna craft of yesteryear, more closely associated with the Australian Women’s Weekly than The Lancet. Look closer, however, and one might find there is something to be learned from the humble art of crochet. Although research in the area is lacking, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that handson cognitive activities such as crochet and knitting can help prevent the onset of dementia , as well as offer therapeutic benefit to people with chronic pain, grief and depression. I first discovered crochet last year. It was late March and I had just sat the GAMSAT. Having quit my full time job a few months prior and with the long anxious wait for exam results and university applications ahead of

me, I had more time on my hands than was beneficial to my mental health. So off I went to Spotlight, picking up a few balls of yarn and a crochet hook. As April rolled along and Easter came, my family was rocked by the tragic news that my eldest cousin had taken his own life. When I think back on the weeks immediately following his death, much of the energy of my grief was channelled into my newly found crochet hobby. Unsure how to fix the un-fixable for my late cousin’s family, I set myself the goal of making a beautiful blanket for his sister in time for the imminent birth of her first baby. With my hands busy and mind focussed, crochet became a calming meditative task. It was rewarding to see one’s hard work in tangible form, the blanket growing bigger by the day. US Psychologist Barry Schwartz has said that the “The secret to happiness is low expectations”. Although this seems like a counter-intuitive

concept, I think it helps explain why crochet provides such a great counterbalance to studying medicine. As medical students, the standards we expect of ourselves are very high. The goals we work towards are constantly superseded by new ones as we progress through our training and become junior doctors. As a result, I think we miss out on some of the everyday ‘small wins’ that accompany the achievement of a goal we have set for ourselves. Crochet on the other hand, offers short-term, finite and attainable goals. Mistakes can easily be unravelled and fixed. Completing each individual ‘granny square’ takes you closer to that satisfying feeling of finishing something that you started. So whether you like to bake, run half marathons or just want to reach the top level of Zelda, I encourage you to find an outlet outside of medicine that provides the opportunity to be creative, make mistakes and enjoy the feeling of achieving a goal.

I Don’t Just do med, I AM Als o a Karate M aster TERRANCE ENGLISH,


TERRANCE ENGLISH. Undergraduate: Science/Education double degree Deakin Medical School Waurn Ponds Past Tournament Experience: Japan World Tournament ‘Final 32’ 2 x Australian Heavyweight Champion Former New Zealand Heavyweight Champion Multiple Victorian Superheavyweight champion South Africa competitor


approached medicine having defined some clear boundaries for myself. Obviously I wasn’t too sure what the course would be like but I told myself that my training in Kyokushin Karate would be a boundary that I wouldn’t compromise. Fortunately Geelong has quite a few great dojos to choose from with Kyokushin Karate, so travel has not been an issue and I have been able to keep up with regular training.

There is an enormous amount of literature out there demonstrating the benefits of fitness and leading a healthy

lifestyle, as well as keeping up social ties with those around you throughout the years we spend in medical school. This is another barrier I didn’t want to cross; with all the study demands placed upon students, I did not want to lose sight of a normal experience. In essence, I wanted to have a ‘non-med’ life too. This was reinforced through conversation with peer group mentors Deakin had organised between first and second year students, as well as my personal friends in the medical profession. In an effort to meet everyone in our course and provide some social and fitness

time, myself and a few other first year medical students created a student group we call Deakin MedFit. Training is completely free and occurs twice a week, one morning and one afternoon, doing a whole range of fitness activities from bag work, partner exercises, running, and social sports like soccer. Deakin MedFit has been a huge success with many students getting involved. The local YMCA located on campus has been a great partner in lending the use of their hall for those frosty mornings we’ve been experiencing.

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zContinueD This way, we have a large number of students getting some ‘social sweats’ whilst building relationships with fellow medical students, people who understand the pressures and commitments that we all now have. The commitment from the student cohort has been great and we are always making adjustments to what we do and how we do it, in line with the feedback from participants. It was these two commitments, Kyokushin Karate and Deakin MedFit that I have not compromised and I am now reaping the benefits of. Just recently, I competed in the Victorian State Titles for Kyokushin Karate in the Super heavyweight (+90kg) division. Although I was feeling under prepared compared to how I would normally approach a tournament (training 5-6 days a week), my time with Deakin MedFit and my bi-weekly training with Kyokushin Karate were apparently adequate. I was fortunate enough to win the championship on the day, having to fight other internationally experienced fighters like myself. The tournament day was brutal but enjoyable; Kyokushin Karate is a bare-knuckle full contact fighting martial art that is renowned for being ‘The Strongest Karate’ and is very popular worldwide through the efforts of the late founder Sosai Masutatsu Oyama (1923-94).

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The determination and discipline that Kyokushin Karate has given me is what lead to my successful entry into medicine, and I’m sure it will be the largest factor towards my success as a doctor. The mindset that is developed through hard training is a long-term benefit and, in my opinion, outweighs the benefits of being able to defend yourself or becoming a great tournament fighter. Medicine is a relentless course and requires destressing and time out just as much as it requires dedicated study time and commitment. Some of the friendships that I have forged through Kyokushin Karate and Deakin MedFit are

rich friendships that will keep for a very long time. The people I study with are the people I exercise with and we all keep each other in line, motivating each other to study when we need it, and to relax when it’s appropriate. Instilling good exercise and social habits now, this early on in our medical career, will serve us well in the future and hopefully, I won’t have to ever compromise the boundaries that I have set myself

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have wanted to learn sign language ever since I saw Santa Claus signing to a young Deaf girl in the movie Miracle on 31st Street. A few years back I finally decided to learn. Initially it was just something fun to do on the side of studying medicine, but since then it has evolved into a skill and an involvement with a community that I really hope will help me a lot in the future. The Deaf community is a unique minority in the wider Australian community, with their own unique language. Auslan (Australian sign language) is different to sign languages used in other countries and has only recently become a recognised language of Australia. The Deaf community have overcome many hardships due to discrimination in the past, particularly in education and employment, which has left the community with an increased need for mental health services. Deaf

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people require more doctors who sign Auslan and services which can cater for them in an environment which makes them feel at ease, which are virtually non-existent today. In order to seek medical help, a Deaf person needs to open up not only to their doctor but also to an interpreter, a stranger, which tends to discourage the more timid and afflicted. Getting involved with the Deaf community has really opened up my eyes to the world of the Deaf and has made me see that my skills can really help a different group of people in need. In America 1 in 4 people can sign, but in Australia it is 1 in 100. Deaf services are scarce and the budgets for these services are becoming smaller and smaller. Deaf people are seen as disabled by many but this isn’t the case at all. In their eyes they have no disability; what they lack in hearing they make up in hand signs and

patience. Every Deaf person I have met since I begun learning to sign has met me with enthusiastic welcome and told me how much the community need doctors who can sign and understand how Deaf people think. I would encourage anyone who is interested in getting involved to contact their local Deaf service provider and learn to sign. Community classes are fun, easy, and cheap! It can also help strengthen your communication with your patients in the future.


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Achieving balance in med school – how is this poss ible? St


ephanie Pommerel , UQ

hen I first started med school, I was overwhelmed. I’d been studying while working prior to being accepted so I knew what busy was, but this was busy at a whole new level. Getting my head around the demands of the scheduled timetable, the extra readings and required preparation as well as fitting in my job took some time. Now well into first semester, I can actually say although I am unrelentingly busy, I am loving it! For me, balance in medicine means supporting myself to function at a high level, not just for the length of the course, but well beyond. I want to be healthy and stable, focused and energized, open and ready for each opportunity as I embark on my medical career. Oxford dictionary definitions of balance evoke notions of harmony, being able to remain steady and upright with stability of the mind and emotions, staying the course, and establishing or maintaining correct or equal proportionality. This latter aspect of balance is the most challenging, as medical education is very intensive and demanding. Balance is often given a token mention despite its prime importance. How then can we contribute to balance in our own lives as medical students? Some continue hobbies, sports, music, community and social activities that you will no doubt read about in this edition. Others will have

families, with small children to raise or perhaps older parents to care for. My own approach is different: I love medicine, so I live and breathe it. Balance then becomes about not taking a break away from medicine, but ensuring I consistently live in a way that supports each next move before I take it. I have come to know key aspects that support me to live a full life generally, and applying these to life as a medical student have helped me to overcome overwhelm. Diet, exercise, work and sleep are the foundations for my life. We all know the recommended guidelines for such healthy behaviours, but how easily do we excuse ourselves away from living differently? Attention to these details is simple, practical, and achievable. In applying these principles to my life, I have settled into a routine that keeps my body healthy and ready to tackle the demands of my weekly schedule. Eating clean, fresh food that I take the time to prepare means I always have enough fuel ready for the day ahead. Staying well hydrated and eliminating alcohol, caffeine and sugar keeps my mind fresh and clear, and my body remains calm. There are no peaks and troughs that follow such stimulant use, so I don’t oscillate between extremes of energy and can maintain a lovely steadiness throughout my day. Everyday, when I get home – tired or not – I go for a gentle walk or workout at the gym, which

helps me to reinvigorate my body, allowing me to wind down and later to prepare for the subsequent day. Regular winding down and early to bed are essential for a restful night’s sleep, so I don’t lie awake thinking about how much there is to do or things I’m yet to learn. I’m accustomed to working long days, often from 4 or 5am through until 8pm. I find I have plenty of time in the mornings to study or keep on top of my chores. I like to ensure I have clean, ironed clothes ready for the week ahead and clear space in which to operate. However, I have a very realistic understanding of how much I can do in any given day, knowing that there are fluctuations in my energy levels, and that this is normal. Although medical school was overwhelming to begin with, I am now into the rhythm of life as a medical student. I know that fundamentally, it is the way I take care of myself that will allow me to be industrious, purposeful, dedicated and prepared to “stay the course”. When we offer ourselves care, we can then offer the same level of care to our patients with honesty and integrity. To paraphrase one of my mentors, Dr Jane Barker, we don’t want to start medical school as big, red, ripe tomatoes then end up like sundried ones, all shriveled up with nothing left to offer our patients! To this end, balance in medicine is possible when self-care is in its supportive place.

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g n i o d f o t f a r C d n a The Art – e n i c i d e M t u b g anythin an un-randomised completely out of control trial. ollongong Sophia Henderson , W


sk any cardiologist where he gets his thrills and he will tell you, but ask any medical student with less directed passions and you will invariably receive a more colourful answer. Medical cohorts are riddled with infectiously imaginative souls, whether it is live performance, smashing the keys on a baby grand to make your mother cry, or even creating anatomical diagrams to rival Netter. Nonetheless, in a fashion that is almost as varied and obscure as an arts degree itself (No offence meant to the resilient double degree-ers out there studying Arts/Med), the list of talents and gifts in a med cohort leave you as breathless as Octomum’s Obstetrician. One such cohort that is familiar with the arts and performance lies in the sleepy hollow of Gong-city, aka Wollongong NSW. Their critically acclaimed smash hit ‘Med Revue’ has sold out year after year and is cast, directed and produced by the UOW med cohort alone. A thrilling performance written by

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the students, the Revue has been a segue for the theatrically talented (and not so talented) to fight it out on stage for the limelight. Whilst some extraordinarily gifted students have put their hobbies aside in pursuit of the proverbial golden stethoscope, their artistic backgrounds can be seen lurking like a radiologist in a bar. Down in the cultural melting pot of Melbourne, Victoria, where arts and top knots are the mode of currency, some med students stand at the forefront of modern art. The internationally famed ‘Turtleyenoughfortheturtleclub’ Tumblr page run by medical students was featured on Buzzfeed last year, exploring the art of ‘crappy costumes’ and demonstrates that studying medicine does not have to become the shackles on your inner artist. Monty Python’s own theatrical and comedic royalty, the late, great, Graeme Chapman blossomed as a performer at university. Less commonly known is the fact that the university was St Bartholomew’s Medical School where he studied. Chapman

actually deferred his 4th year of studies to tour with John Cleese in their first show together called ‘Cambridge Circus’ and subsequently Monty Python was born. The pioneer of the modern phrase “HA!…. GAYYY”, Ken Jeong M.D, known amongst our book-bashing brethren as Leslie Chang from the Hangover Trilogy (it’s barely a trilogy), is a fully qualified physician who completed his undergrad at Duke. Despite the shortcoming of an M.D dragging his name down, Jeong has starred in multiple Hollywood films and television series, as well as writing and producing for several other projects. Whilst these artistic achievements and creative creatures are hard acts to follow, they are just some examples of med students who have the right to extend their palm to your face and say ‘bitch please, I don’t just do med’. However, don’t let their international success get you down, making origami out of last years pathology notes might one day earn you your own Buzzfeed page too.


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ENQUIRIES Please direct all enquiries about this edition of Panacea to Ming Yong at

Panacea Volume 49 Issue 1  
Panacea Volume 49 Issue 1