Reflections on the Creative Careers in Medicine Conference by the Queensland Doctors’ Health Programme’s Education Officer and Counsellor Vicky Dawes.

Aug 19, 2019 | Latest News

As a former doctor who now works in doctors’ health, I often walk away from medical conferences feeling slightly inadequate. My inner critic pops up saying “you could never do that”, “those speakers were all so much more intelligent/resilient/creative/hard-working than you” and my favourite chestnut of shame “too bad you didn’t stick it out in medicine”. So why did I leave CCIM feeling like I’d been welcomed into a tribe?

From the moment I was handed my name badge it was clear this wasn’t going to be your usual medical conference. No title, no job description, no postnominals, no mention of if you were a speaker or “just” a delegate. With the playing field levelled, the scene was set for connectedness rather than division, inclusion not hierarchies. As a result, everyone I spoke to… speakers, medical students, doctors on a break, doctors in training, entrepreneurs, CEOs and founders of incredibly successful start-ups, introduced themselves as they saw themselves, not as the external world might perceive them. We connected as humans first, medics second.

Speakers, each truly remarkable in their achievements, shared their routes to success in all their messy, roundabout and often fear-filled and doubt-ridden details. They acknowledged the nay-sayers trying to dissuade them from stepping off the training train, mistakes made and the unexpected opportunities seized. In the breaks between sessions I heard over and over, “At last I’ve found people in medicine who are just like me!” spoken with relief, gratitude and even tears.

To all the doctors and medical students out there who are wondering if they’re on the right path, or are feeling like a bit of an ugly duckling in the medical world (or the Aussie version a platypus), I say – your tribe is right here. Come and join this CCIM of platypuses*. Together we will create magic.

*A CCIM (as of this conference) is the newly coined collective noun for a group of platypuses.

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