What motivated you to join MSF?
I first learnt about the limited health resources many countries face from my grandmother’s large old bookcase. When we visited in the school holidays, I used to sit in her hallway reading many of her biographies about Australian teachers, nurses and doctors who worked overseas.
At medical school, this interest grew after learning of the many challenges in global health. I was fortunate to go on a short exchange in south-east Asia, and learn more about both the need for working overseas and the learning opportunities from doing so.
When nearing the end of my specialist training as an obstetrician- gynaecologist, I had a look at a few organisations that supported projects overseas. I was instantly attracted to MSF’s principles of impartiality, neutrality and independence, as well as its advocacy and témoignage (bearing witness). MSF for me is an organisation that always aims to provide the best care possible, irrespective of where or who the patient is. After my first assignment, I have seen these principles in action and have never looked back.
How do you juggle going on assignments with your regular work life in Australia?
I am very lucky that my Australian employer is very understanding and helpful in allowing me to juggle working within rural Australia and overseas with MSF. I believe they also see the benefits of having me work for both organisations. When I started working within The Kimberley, I had a part-time contract that allowed me time each year to head overseas with MSF. More recently, with many staff shortages in rural areas, while I now work full-time, they have been supportive of me using my long service leave and holidays to go on assignments.
MSF is also very understanding, realising that I cannot go at very short notice with my busy job here. My career managers in MSF often speak to all of the operational centres to see who might have an assignment that fits my availability. My colleagues in Australia are also very helpful, picking up jobs for me such as covering my teaching or helping my research while I am away. Everyone realises the important work of MSF and is happy to support in their own way!