Interview: Caitlin Robson Hamond – Obstetrics and Gynaecology Registrar

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by Chloe Thornton

Interview: Caitlin Robson Hamond – Obstetrics and Gynaecology Registrar

Caitlin Robson Hamond. I’m 29 years old, originally from country Victoria (Bendigo). Have a keen interest in all things active! I’m an avid (social) netballer, rock climber, hiker and skier. I aim to travel any chance I get and love to base trips around outdoor interests. To wind down I love podcasts, awful reality TV and youtube videos of dogs.

Job Title:

Obstetrics and Gynaecology Registrar @ The Royal Women’s Hospital

What does your current job entail?

As a trainee in RANZCOG (The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology), work is split into two fields.
Obstetrics: Antenatal care, both inpatient care and outpatient, clinic work. Specialty clinics, ultrasound, performing caesarean sections or everybody’s favourite, ‘baby catching’ on our hospital’s Birth Suite.
Gynaecology: Minor surgery, laparoscopic and open surgery, clinic work, advising on sexual health and performing associated procedures, emergency presentations.

What/who inspired you to become a doctor? Did you always know you wanted to work in the medical profession?

I was lucky enough to grow up modelling off my parents, who are also in the medical profession. My father is an anaesthetist and my mother an occupational therapist – you can imagine the conversations! This gave me a strong focus and drive to achieve academically to get into medicine. Although I’d always gravitated towards women’s health, it wasn’t until I saw my first baby delivered when the proverbial light bulb switched on and I knew I wanted to work as an Obs/Gynae doctor. I was lucky enough to win a scholarship through my college, Ormond College to undertake a medical placement in Old Delhi, India. It was here, after experiencing the exhilaration of a vaginal twin delivery (first twin head first, second twin feet first) that I became committed to women’s health. 

Where did you do your training and how long did it take?

I undertook my Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at The University of Melbourne. This is a 6 year degree which included 2.5 years of class work, 1 year of research in the form of a Bachelor of Medical Science which I performed within the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Breast Cancer Unit. Followed by a further 2.5 years of clinical work. In this time I trained rurally, in Bendigo, Mansfield (and on the Mount Bulla ski slopes!), Wangaratta and Shepparton. I’m now in my second ’round’ of training. I am 5 years out of university and 2 years through a 6 year program to become a Consultant Specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. This involves 3 years at a large tertiary hospital, 1 year of rural work, then 2 final years of advanced training. Phew!

What has the path, from commencement of study to now, looked like for you? Has there been any change in direction?

The medical path is tough, but for me has been fairly straightforward. Knowing from early on where I wanted to focus my learning helped a lot as I was able to move almost straight from internship to working in Obs/Gynae. That said, I have friends who have had broader interests and have gladly spent 3-4 years trying different specialties to see what fits. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ model for a medical career. Nothing beats experience!

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome to be where you are today?

The sacrifices we make for our profession, patients and colleagues are numerable and often unrecognised. Our lives are not our own! From early on, we study hard, work long hours, miss holidays, social events, milestones. Although there’s no better way to improve as a doctor than gaining more experience, the hours sacrificed can take their toll. Achieving a work-life balance has been my greatest challenge. 

What is your favourite thing about your job?

I try to remember every day how privileged I am to work in this career. My answer here has to be split.
1. My colleagues: An absolutely amazing bunch of staff work at my hospital. From the senior consultants, junior doctors I train with who become as close to you as siblings, to the fabulous nurses and allied health who hold down the fort for us – I am so lucky to feel supported and surrounded by exceptionally intelligent and hardworking friends every day. Needless to say, we have a blast!
2. Birth: The adrenalin and emotion behind every delivery in an unbeatable high. What an absolute honour to be present at one of the most memorable times of a family’s life.

What is your least favourite thing about your job?

Shift work! Fatigue, hunger, sleepless nights (or days), early morning, late nights and irrational emotions. I’ve turned up to shifts hours early, or on days I wasn’t even rostered. I once turned up fully dressed to a wedding after night shift… to find out I was a day early!

What sticks out to you as the most important lesson you’ve learnt in your career so far?

Debrief, debrief, debrief! With colleagues at your level, below your level, well above your level. Even better, have a psychologist for when times get tough (Note: not ‘if’ but ‘when’). Along with the thrill of the job comes with it time critical, often scary, situations. Constant high stakes decision making, learning new skills and content, managing those around you – is exhausting! Especially whilst learning as a junior, I have found nothing beats talking a situation through. You are not only opening up and verbally running through the events, but gaining perspective from someone who can listen, comfort and provide advice. Nothing beats a good debrief over coffee! Sometimes after a situation I like to reflect – What did I do well? – What could I have done better? – What would I do differently in the future? – What did I learn?

Any special areas of interest that you may explore in the future?

I hold a strong interest in adolescent gynaecology, especially in sexual health education. Growing up in the age of ‘Dolly Doctor’ and ‘a friend of your older sister’ being our greatest source of information and now coming a generation with information overload via google, I am incredibly passionate about making sex-ed factual, approachable and relevant. I’ve set up some sexual education classes at my old high school and would love to pursue this further.

What tips or words of wisdom would you share with someone thinking of studying medicine or a doctor considering working in the arena of Women’s Health?

This is a very emotionally driven field of medicine. We often see women at their most vulnerable, at huge life moments, we discuss the most private, sensitive topics. Be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster! Also… well worth it!

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