Lessons from Business, Medicine and Life

First published December 4, 2017

This blog started as a way to empower doctors and others involved in healthcare to take charge of their lives and recognise their skills as being transferable to other industries-

Including business and entrepreneurship.

Most of my time the past few years has been spent reading and following business leaders to learn how they tick, and it’s amazing how relevant their lessons are for managing your lives on the wards, in clinics, at your medtech startup, and even in your personal life.

Business is an uncertain world; yet it’s powerful to remember that, generally, lives are not at stake in this situation- at least not with the immediacy that’s faced in the chemotherapy unit, for example.

Remember to arm yourself with your number one tool: PERSPECTIVE: and take time to figure out what values you hold dearest; what frustrates you most; what strengths and weaknesses you think you have; and how you can serve the world best through your strengths and individuality.

This is an intro to an ongoing series on productivityand insights from my readings on how to take charge in your life.

Feel free to let me know how you go; we’d love to hear your success stories if you’ve been inspired by one of these people, or of course, by something you’ve read on The Medical Startup 

Cheers and good luck!!

#themedicalstartuptips

Job Opportunity: Next Practice Health Looking for GPs

First published November 20, 2017

If you’re a GP in Australia wanting to work with a patient-focused practice with novel tech solutions, read on… (Note: wording in this ad provided by the advertiser. Please see our T&Cs for more information.)

 

 

Next Practice is here. And we are changing the face of healthcare.

Confronted at once by significant strain and profound opportunity, healthcare must transform for the future.

We are artfully creating a new kind of General Practice by reducing the limitations of time, resources and inefficiency to ensure not just “Best Practice” care but “Next Practice” care.
Our goal is nothing less than the best General Practice experience on Planet Earth, and we are looking for like-minded GP partners to join our movement.

 

Our Offering

Whether you are opening a new practice or transforming an existing one, becoming a Next Practice Partner allows you to retain the joy of running a small business with the reassurance of a larger company behind you. Our aim simply is to give you more time to deliver quality, patient-centred care and increase your return.

An Inviting Environment

Next Practice have re-defined the experience of a “visit to the GP”. Our unique design welcomes patients, inviting them to engage in their health, whilst ensuring a functional clinic space that is a delight to work in. Freed by technology of administrative tasks, practice staff are able to engage in deeper collaboration with patients, family and other treating clinicians.


Practice Management Support

As a partner of Next Practice, you have access to the considerable expertise of our larger business.
This includes planning, building and property maintenance, accreditation, accounting, HR, Marketing, Compliance and IT. As part of a larger network, you also have access to shared resourcing for administrative tasks and enhanced purchasing power with suppliers.


Your Wellbeing

We well understand the stress of General Practice and are determined about supporting your wellbeing. We have developed an innovative program of personal and professional development designed to improve job satisfaction and work-life balance. As part of a network of inspirational GPs, you will have the knowledge that you are part of a movement bigger than yourself.

 

Curious?

Do you want to leave your fingerprint on a new kind of care?
Check out our interactive website at www.nextpracticehealth.com
Then contact Terry today by email at terry@nextpracticehealth.com or call 0498 488 059.

All images and job listing courtesy of Next Practice Health.

This job listing is sponsored. If you’re interested in advertising your job opportunity or other events on The Medical Startup, please contact us for rates and more details. 

World First: 3D-Printed Tibia Successfully Inserted Into Man’s Leg During Surgery

First published September 10, 2017

A team of Australian surgeons have successfully implanted a 3D-printed tibia into a 27-year-old man’s leg.

 

 

Photo courtesy of The Age.

 

The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, collaborated with the Queensland University of Technology with the design of the original polymer and “scaffold,” and with the printing technology in Singapore.*

The young father had suffered a life-threatening osteomyelitis, and faced above-knee amputation as the alternative.

It’s going to be fascinating following the journey of this man’s recovery, and hearing more and more stories of others successfully receiving 3D-printed bone and tissue. Both metropolitan and regional locations will soon be able to have these resources on hand (a 3D-printed tibia is pictured from Mackay Base Hospital’s 3D-printer here).

For more information, head to The Age and the ABC News.

*We’d love to credit the site in Singapore where the printing for this surgery took place!

Melbourne Social Enterprise Pioneers Model: Giving Through Medical Education

First published July 26, 2017

There are many ways to give through your business or startup.

Who knew that by educating yourself for your fellowship exams, you are also helping by giving to those less fortunate? 

PhysEd gives you this sense of purpose.

                

Two Melbourne medical doctors decided to give through their medical education company, PhysEd, a two-week intensive preparation course for doctors preparing for the Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ Basic Physician Training Written Exam.

         

Inspired by ethicist Peter Singer’s book and organisation, The Life You Can Save, PhysEd gives 5% of revenue to charity, donating over five figures in its first year. The specialty exams are a gruelling time in any doctor’s life, and attending a course has statistically shown to improve your chance of passing. Having gone through the exams themselves, the founders know the high standards expected of course speakers and exam candidates. With this in mind, PhysEd incorporates a practical, immersive approach to multiple-choice question preparation, including a weekend MCQ intensive midway through the course, and high-quality, experienced presenters from many of Melbourne’s top teaching hospitals.

Let’s face it- going through the exams is a very competitive, self-focused time, spanning over two years of doctors’ lives, which can take away from the meaning of medicine- to give to others who need your knowledge. Medicine is about giving, yet, the competitive environment of training and striving to be your best on that one exam day can sap away one’s energy and original sense of purpose for medicine. PhysEd’s giving model helps you feel that you’re not alone- your studying is not in vain, just for your own score and knowledge – it’s helping others, including companies such as Medicins Sans Frontieres and Against Malaria.

To find out more and register, including a free, fully-equipped doctors’ briefcase for the Part 2 exams with full registration(!), head to physed.com.au

For an inspiring book from a pioneering social entrepreneur, read our review of TOMS shoes founder Blake Mycoskie’s book here

Photo credits: physed.com.au

Book Review: “Start Something That Matters” by Blake Mycoskie, TOMS Founder

First published July 20, 2017

This book is a must-read.

 

Pic: themedicalstartup.com

Most of you would have heard of TOMS. Many of you perhaps own a pair or two. There’s a fascinating story behind it.

 

Blake Mycoskie is known for pioneering the One-for-One retail model, where a company gives something for every item that’s sold. In TOMS’ case, that’s a pair of shoes to a community in need for every pair of TOMS sold around the world.

Blake was inspired after taking a brief sabbatical from his former startup (and after “The Amazing Race” in America). As many startup founders (and healthcare workers!) discover, it’s hard to switch off. Early into his trip to Argentina, he was struck by the number of children walking barefoot on the hot roads, because their families couldn’t afford to purchase shoes. Blake goes into detail about his early days finding a local shoemaker in Argentina; working out the supply chain without having fashion experience; hiring his first interns; and how they spread the word about TOMS. Since then, TOMS has grown into a multimillion-dollar company, and Blake has created a venture fund for social entrepreneurs to help others create good from their companies.

Other companies such as Warby Parker for eyeglasses have found success with a for-profit model of giving. Many people believe that non-profits are more subject to instability, being reliant upon donations and philanthropy. It could be argued that social enterprise is a more sustainable business model long-term, where a social enterprise is defined as a for-profit business that serves to do good as its core mission.

With “Start Something That Matters,” Blake shares his thoughts from TOMS’ journey, and gives actionable tips on how you can do the same. A very inspiring and uplifting read, including case studies from other companies.

What other books have inspired you? Share your best recommendations below. 

New Zealand Clinicians’ Challenge Open For Entries

First published June 13, 2017

 

If you’re a clinician in New Zealand with a great idea, the Clinicians’ Challenge may be right for you.

 

Attendees mingling at HiNZ 2016. Pic: The Medical Startup

The Clinicians’ Challenge aims to help healthcare workers from all disciplines improve the lives of patients through innovative projects. There are two categories: New Idea, or Active Project/Development. Prizewinners will share in $20,000NZD worth of funding, supported by HiNZ and the Ministry of Health, New Zealand.

Last year’s winners who presented at HiNZ include:

  • anaesthetics registrar Mark Fletcher’s New Idea award for collecting the most relevant big data efficiently across elective surgery lists;
  • pharmacist Amber Young for her New Ideas award-winning medication information project, integrating both tech and paper to tailor medication summaries for patients in an efficient and visually optimised format
  • Yvonne McFarlane, a resident at Dunedin Hospital who developed an idea for a simple one-page handover list that can be integrated into existing EMRs; and
  • public health physician Nick Eichler and his Auckland Public Health Service colleagues, with their TeleDOT electronic medication monitoring system for tuberculosis patients. By improving education and adherence, TeleDOT also aims to reduce the transport burden for patients and healthcare workers across the country while undergoing lengthy treatment.

Entries for the Clinicians Challenge close Friday 16 June- visit here to enter.

Other opportunities for the annual HiNZ and NZ Nursing Informatics Conferences are also open til Friday 16 June, including speaker and paper/abstract submissions. More details at hinz.org.nz.

Read our recaps of last year’s events at Day 12 and 3.

Melbourne startup Nebula Health Raises $250,000 in Seed Funding For Best Perioperative Patient Care

First published June 6, 2017

What makes patients’ lives easier?

Having clear, up to date communication with their doctor and treating team.

The problem is, time pressures and administrative structures in most hospitals and clinics make this difficult both for patients and clinicians.

Australian surgeons Dr Paul Paddle and Dr Chandrashan Perera have created a solution for this. Nebula Health delivers smartphone reminders and advice via app directly from the surgeon to the patient, improving the quality of pre-operative care, post-op recovery and long-term health of their patients, in an easy-to-use and efficient manner.

 

Nebula Health’s new patient-focused app will help patients prepare for and recover well from surgery, with clear instructions tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Photo courtesy of Nebula Health.

As Chief Medical Officer Dr Paddle explains, “The concept for this app was borne out of my own experience and frustration. As a practicing ENT surgeon, I strive to check in on my patients at every step, before and after their surgery. However, in the time-pressured realities of medical practice today, it’s often not possible. With this app, my patients receive personalised directions every step of the way. In return, I receive real-time notifications of their compliance. As a result, my patients have more confidence in my abilities, are more satisfied and have better health outcomes.”

Frustration with the limits of current best patient care are what drive startups formed by doctors, nurses and other clinicians. Perioperative medicine is a standout opportunity for healthtech innovation, given the enormous breadth of surgical patients and cases, spanning from neonatal to paediatrics and adult surgery, and the non-surgical complications that can occur (such as cardiac events) amidst the high turnover of operative cases. A precision medicine solution like Nebula’s app could potentially also help those patients on waiting lists who are anxious about surgery or wanting advice in between appointments.

 

Melbourne Accelerator Launch Party 2016. Photo: The Medical Startup

 

Since completing their time with the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP), Nebula have visited Silicon Valley with the other MAP graduates and iterated the initial concept of their product into a helpful perioperative app. What was the journey like as a clinician and startup founder? “We tested thirty (surgical) patients using a prototype. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and it encouraged us to develop this concept into a market-ready product.” explains Dr Chandrashan Perera , Nebula’s CEO. “Patient testimonials from this trial turned six surgeons into early customers. From this traction, we were able to close our seed round. This funding will allow us to grow the team and scale our services to more patients.” Indeed, at least two more medical doctors have joined Nebula‘s team, and Nebula’s vision has impressed angel investors including Rod Lyle, a board member of ASX-listed medical technology company Pro Medicus.

It’s been exciting following Nebula Health’srapid journey from the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP).  Other medical successes include compatriots CNSDose, a pharmacogenetics company who are now part of the Texas Medical Center’s Innovation Accelerator, and other graduates of the MAP program.

Currently, Nebula Health are looking for more surgeons in hospitals and clinics who are interested in their software. For a demo or more information, please contact Li (at) nebulahealth.com.

Congratulations and best wishes to the team!

What It’s Like Attending Your First Hackathon

First published June 5, 2017

 

No matter your level of experience – or self-perceived lack of- hackathons are a great way for you to get started in tech.

At hackathons, you meet others interested in a good cause or tech solution for a pressing problem. Think “build a tech product in two days” and you get the idea. They’re usually themed; for example, Healthhack in Melbourne last year; the internationally-run Hacking Health (in Brisbane this year) and even food hackathons and fintech hacks in various cities. You’re usually presented with a problem to solve, either in advance of the event, or at the start of the event itself. Run as competitions, prizes and opportunities are usually on offer, ranging from prize money to course scholarships and introductions to advisors and mentors.

I’d bookmarked a ton of hackathons across Australia that kept cropping up at the wrong time; so it was a nice surprise when I Googled “hackathons” while visiting New York, and found out about AngelHack’s “Women in Tech Demo Day.

 

The Flatiron District, Saturday morning! Pic: The Medical Startup

 

I didn’t know what “Demo Day” meant. Basically, it means the event’s been announced some time ago, and you work on your project solo or with your team members in the weeks or days leading up to the event. This differs from more traditional hackathons, which may run for, say, 48 hours, and working around the clock to build that prototype with your team, even at 3am.  I’d signed up to Demo Day the week before, and with my NY schedule already packed, thought, well, no harm in just rocking up and observing if that’s all I can do!

But actually, AngelHack are good at knowing how randoms like me stumble upon opportunities like this. Using Slack, they created streams for each Women in Tech DD (#WITDemoDay) in each city (they also had Washington, D.C and Dallas events that year), so attendees could connect and form teams online, and work on their demos together to present on the actual event day.

There was also room for those who turned up on the day and decided to form a group while at the venue, which is what I ended up doing.

#WITDemoDay. Pic: The Medical Startup

Getting to the venue was exciting enough, being a Big Apple tourist. Held at sponsor Capital One’s offices in the Flatiron District (iconic enough for its own blog post really!), there was mingling amongst women and men of various ages and backgrounds throughout the event. Students, developers, graphic designers moving into code, project managers, professionals from other industries breaking into tech, and the random who flew from Australia (I got a few stares!) were all there. Very refreshing to see men at an event promoting opportunities for women. After an intro and warmup activity (and finding another Aussie!), we formed new groups or got into the ones we’d already arranged prior; and set to work on a tech solution for involving more girls and women in the tech world.

 

Food, glorious food  Pic: The Medical Startup

By the end of the day, wireframes and working prototypes for websites, apps, and even social media companies had formed. I’d made new friends, heard some very inspiring guest speakers, and gotten to soak up the fun atmosphere. Maybe it was the 39-degree heatwave outside, but it didn’t feel ultra-competitive- certainly, other groups had been preparing for weeks or days, and people wanted to win the $20,000 General Assembly course scholarship and other prizes, but for my new group who were talking about Pokemon Go (which was hot at the time), we were just racing the clock to present a simple prototype in time.

 

The 2016 winners of the Women in Tech Demo Day, NYC! Read more about them at Forbes by clicking on the image. Pic: The Medical Startup

Throwing yourself into a foreign situation like that forces you to quickly get comfortable being uncomfortable. Some of us were enrolling in beginner’s coding classes; others had graduated from computer science degrees and now wanted to use their skills in the real world. Still others had genuinely never typed a line of code in their lives, but wanted to see what it was like. And then it was also interesting experiencing hints of a startup culture in a different country, particularly a world business capital like New York. You learnt a lot in eight hours.

The presentations were really enjoyable. The winner turned out to be the Aussie I mentioned earlier, who presented HerReality, a virtual reality solution for educating girls about careers in tech through the eyes of the narrator. One of the other prizewinning teams was a group that had formed on Slack that same week and met for the first time in person that day! Women@Forbes writer Leah Ginsberg was one of the judges, and was so impressed by the finalists that she wrote about them later on. Imagine forming your team and attending your first hackathon, winning your first prize that same day, AND getting into Forbes! Wow.

I hope all this inspires you in some way to take a chance and try a new challenge. Whether it’s attending your first hackathon or another tech event, it’s great to stretch your boundaries and get a head start on tech terms and startup lingo- and pitching practice. (Not the baseball kind.) (Couldn’t resist.)

AngelHack’s Carlye Greene with guest speaker, entrepreneur and consultant Roopa Unnikrishnan. Pic: The Medical Startup

In the medical world, you can immerse yourself so deeply in medspeak that you forget how to dial it down and share your knowledge with others outside of med. It’s the same with code. I’ve since been to other events where, at pitching time, the audience struggles to understand the real-world application, the one-sentence pitch to non-coder investors and stakeholders, that is buried beneath the tech jargon. I think people are starting to mix more, however, and the cross-pollination of experiences will bring more cohesive events like Women in Tech Demo Day together.

It didn’t matter that it wasn’t a medical event. I learnt a lot and had a great time. And you could argue that improving tech education for girls could help a future nurse, doctor or other healthcare worker use their valuable tech skills throughout their careers!

This year’s AngelHack/Capital One Women in Tech Demo Day is coming up this month; check it out and register at womenintechdemoday.com. Also visit Angelhack.com for other hackathon opportunities around the world. 

This may ring a bell for Aussies who have been to Girl Geek Academy events– if you haven’t, register nowthey’re run by an awesome team and are branching into the States.

Also check out hackathon.io for lists of other hackathons around the world.  

Creative Spotlight: Jewellery Inspired By Neuroscience, by Luke Maninov Hammond of Queensland Brain Institute

First published June 2, 2017

 

You’d be amazed by the treasures you find on Instagram.

If art and design can tell stories to engage a captive audience beyond science and medicine, Luke Maninov Hammond has done a stellar job.

I came across a snapshot of Luke’s designs via the Queensland Brain Institute’s Instagram. Luke’s work with fluorescence microscopy at the QBI has inspired his incredible jewellery designs and prints, which he has exhibited recently at Pieces of Eight gallery in Melbourne and will soon be showing at Brisbane’sArtisan Gallery from June 15.

 

Beneath The Surface engagement ring. Luke: “This signature ring simultaneously represents the invisible worlds of cellular machinery, marine life, and dynamic connectivity within the brain. Designed as a pair, this engagement ring holds a 1.6ct Australian parti sapphire in 18ct yellow gold, surrounded by three brilliant white diamonds. Combined, the pair form a completed circle surrounding the sapphire with a golden halo set with six diamonds.” Image copyright Luke Maninov Hammond

As well as at his exhibitions, some of Luke’s work can be purchased at beneaththesurfaceprints.bigcartel.com, with profits going towards schizophrenia research. He’s also at www.lukemaninov.com, and on Instagram@lukemaninov and Facebook www.facebook.com/lukemaninovjewellery. Luke kindly provided insights for us about the mix of art, design and neuroscience while preparing for a new role at Columbia University, New York City.

Can you tell us about your neuroscience career?

 

 

When I was studying neuroscience, all I wanted to do was get involved in research on consciousness, but I took a side step and started an imaging project in a cancer biology lab with Prof. Jennifer Stow at the University of Queensland.   This is when I first started using microscopes to image fluorescent proteins in cells. 

It’s one thing to know that without your awareness, every single cell in your body is almost vibrating with activity and something entirely different to actually see it with your own eyes. Looking down into an ocean of darkness and seeing dynamic glowing worlds alive within cells was a profound experience that completely captured my imagination. 

A few years later I had the opportunity to join the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI), where I worked to establish an imaging facility so these techniques could be used to study the brain. It’s been an incredible journey to see fluorescent imaging move from allowing us to see inside single cells, to watching neurons within the brain flashing with activity.  After almost 9 years with QBI I’m about to start a new position managing and establishing a new facility at the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behaviour Institute, Columbia University in New York City.

 

What did your work at QBI focus on?

My work at QBI was focused on establishing a microscopy facility that offered the world’s most advanced imaging capabilities and working with QBI’s researchers to ensure they could use these instruments to make novel discoveries about the brain. This included working on projects trying to understand how neurotransmitters are released, how axons regenerate, and how to treat diseases like Alzheimer’s or motor neurone disease.

Most recently my colleagues and I published a new paper in Molecular Neurobiology which contributes key insights into how vitamin D deficiency during embryonic development can alter the brain’s dopamine system.

 

Luke: “Within the In-Between” reveals the brain cells and their complex interwoven processes. To create this image, varying colours have been used to reflect the changing depths of the neuronal processes as they extend through the brain. This image was captured at high-resolution in 3D using state-of-the-art fluorescence microscopy at the University of Queensland’s Queensland Brain Institute.” This is one of several limited-edition prints that can be purchased for schizophrenia research. Image copyright Luke Maninov Hammond

Fluorescence microscopy essentially makes the invisible worlds within cells and brains visible with glowing proteins and dyes. 

Due to recent advancements we can now see objects down to 20nm in size, that’s 5000x finer than a human hair, in living cells and tissue. It’s truly amazing what we can achieve. We are in the midst of a revolution for biomedical imaging, it’s a very exciting time for brain science.

How did you start making jewellery and fine art?

I started making jewellery and objects as a new creative outlet and a way of exploring 3D form. I primarily use a technique called “Lost-Wax Casting,” which involves sculpting and creating a wax object that can be transferred into precious metal.

I fell in love with the analogue process of working with my hands to create these forms, and have been experimenting with it ever since. There is an inherent joy in creating something out of nothing based on an idea which emerges at the edge of your imagination.

Agreed! What was the point when you realised the link between your neuroscience work and a physical expression of creativity?

My practice has always been about reimagining biological form to explore themes of impermanence, consciousness and connection between living things. From the beginning I think the jewellery I was creating was informed by the 3D imaging and analysis I was performing in science but a few years in I realised it made sense to explore neuroscience more deliberately.

What, if any, resistance or challenges have you had to overcome from others, or self-doubts from yourself, when crossing between the science and fashion/design worlds?

Certainly I’ve learnt to overcome a lot of self-doubt in teaching myself to create jewellery. Navigating a path between science and art can be challenging too, in the sense that you don’t want your involvement in one role to call into question your capacity for the other. While there can be a lot of overlap, especially in creativity and coming up with ideas, in science we are required to make unbiased, precise and accurate measurements in order to understand complex processes, and this is not always the work of an artist.

On the other hand, we are exploring an unseen world for the first time, and there is an important role for art to play in sharing this with rest of the world and communicating these discoveries in ways that capture our imagination. It’s encouraging to see growing interest in bridging the worlds of art and science.

 

Unfolding Object. Sterling silver, Australian sapphires, gold vermeil and patina. Housed in glass bell jar. Image copyright Luke Maninov Hammond

How did the Pieces of Eight exhibition come about (in Melbourne)?

Melanie Katsalidis, the Director of Pieces of Eight, began representing my work last year. When the possibility to propose an exhibition came up, I put forward the concept of “Beneath the Surface.” I only had a few weeks to work on the show, but the timing ended up perfect as I was able to complete the project just in time to be ready to move to New York.

What do you hope people will learn or gain from your exhibition?

 

The exhibition explores the story of green fluorescent protein, the glowing protein discovered in jellyfish by Osamu Shimomura, from which fluorescence microscopy and our ability to see the invisible stems. It draws parallels between the unfolding microscopic structures beneath our skin and those in the depths of the ocean.

I think it’s a story stranger than fiction, that our exploration of the sea has enabled us to illuminate the living brain and journey inwards.

I hope people will come away with an interest in what is being discovered in neuroscience and a sense of wonder in the hidden beauty within us. Part of the exhibition includes large-format cellular images of the brain, which we rarely get to share with the public, so I hope this will capture people’s imaginations.

As with my other work, the pieces represent the unfolding nature of life, encouraging reflection on our coming out of the world, rather than coming into it.

 

Enclosed Radial” ring. Sterling silver, Australian sapphires, gold vermeil, patina. Image copyright Luke Maninov Hammond

Neuroscience and ageing can be very intimidating subjects; how can we make the brain and neuroscience more accessible to others? 

It’s true, people can put a mental block on understanding topics like this as they appear intimidating. This is why it’s important for science to engage with artists and communicators to come up with novel ways of sharing discoveries and breaking down the barrier that exists between science and the general public.

I think microscopy has a key role to play here too, the images we capture are able to directly convey the story of disease and how the brain works. Often these images are never seen by more than one or two people, as they are distilled into graphs and data points for publication, but I hope we can find more ways of sharing them more broadly. I’ve seen some amazing reactions to the few images I’ve been able to share in my exhibitions and believe they hold a capacity to spark a genuine interest in science and self discovery.

Thank you Luke for your inspiration! Don’t forget to visit his “Beneath the Surface” exhibition at Artisan Gallery, Brisbane from June 15 and buy his prints at beneaththesurfaceprints.bigcartel.com. Profits from sales go towards schizophrenia research. 

Celebrate Crazy Socks for Docs Day on June 1st

First published June 1, 2017

“June 1st. #CrazySocks4Docs. But not just for Docs only. This day is for nurses, dentists, pharmacists, social workers, physiotherapists, psychologists, dietitians, speech pathologists, audiologists, respiratory therapists, anaesthesia techs, paramedics, medical students, veterinarians and all other specialties that work in the health care industry for patients. Doctors are dying by their own hands. The overall physician […]”

via Crazy Socks for Docs — Dr Eric Levi

Thank you to Dr Eric Levi for your articles on your blog, which recently relate to physician suicides and the challenges we face as healthcare workers in a challenging industry.

Embrace your personality and your colleagues’ health this June 1st. Wear odd socks

Breaking The Boundaries You’ve Set Yourself: Thoughts and Events To Inspire Your Tech Journey

First published May 28, 2017

 

How do you learn about tech as an outsider?

For awhile, before The Medical Startup became an idea, I was toying with creating something in tech.

I was a full-time doctor in a Melbourne hospital, spending all my spare time studying for fellowship.

When you’re at that stage in your career, you’re usually facing another four to six years of focusing on fellowship full-time.

I was surrounded by peers who were working towards the same goal.

It was all we knew at that time. We’d forgotten what life was like pre-training, it was deemed a “waste” if you paused for breath, and it took a long, long time to learn to breathe above water again.

So it seemed impossible.

But when you start to act towards those “strange” goals, the world opens up beyond anything you’d imagine. 

Attending events and online webinars helped tremendously. I was surrounded by others who were teaching themselves, too.

I started learning how to adapt to new environments, even more new than running a Code Blue at 3am.

I started learning the lingo of life outside of medicine.

And the love of learning I have for medicine sustained me through this journey, too.

So here’s a thought for the next time you’re thinking, “I can’t do this” or “It’s impossible, I have no background in this area.”

Think laterally about what you’re telling yourself.

Is it really impossible?

 

You’re not just a doctor.

You’re a woman in tech.

You’re not just a nurse.

You’re a father of three.

You’re not just a clinician who sees patients one by one at scheduled appointments at your clinic.

You’re facilitating their wellness beyond their current condition. How they are at home, at work, at the shops and their daily lives.

You have to stop thinking of yourself as a single job description. 

Otherwise, when you’re stuck, how will you remember who you are again?

Think about those who have the courage to uproot countries and settle in a new culture, starting from scratch with their careers again. Often, their degrees aren’t recognised at their new home.

Or think of those who graduate from one degree, then use their determination and self-belief (even when it’s down) to apply to study post-graduate medicine or another degree.

Don’t underestimate yourself.

We’re all learning, after all.

And that shiny, suited person speaking up on the big stage? They had to start somewhere, too. 

This is literally just a random post after reflecting on recent events and conversations. You have to normalise curiosity and your hunger for knowledge. 

Thinking about it, there are a ton of events coming up around the world that may help you along your journey; I’ll list them below. Perhaps you’ll find some of them useful, too.

A couple are med tech, but most are actually more general and will help you learn the vibe and get comfortable in the tech and entrepreneurship worlds, too.

Who knows what new friends you’ll make, and what skills and knowledge you’ll bring back to your usual lives? You’ll almost certainly realise that you already know more about tech than you thought you did.

Be inspired.

Let me know in the Comments or by email if you have been or end up going to any, and how you enjoyed it/what you took away from it. I’m also speaking at an AMA leadership event tomorrow, aimed at junior doctors but hopefully useful for others, too.

Below:

  • The Sunrise Conference” by Blackbird Ventures in Sydney. One of Australia’s most renowned tech venture capital firms. (Last year it was streamed online; here are a couple of tips we took from some of the talks.)
  • The Melbourne Accelerator Program Launch Party 2017Last year, two Melbourne digital health startups founded by doctors were part of the program. Nebula Health and CNSDose have both benefited hugely from MAP, with Nebula now partnering with hospitals and surgeons, and CNSDose breaking ground as part of Texas Medical Center’s Innovation program.
  • General Assembly, a tech education company running coding bootcamps, one-day workshops and even two-hour events across their centres in Australia, Asia, the US and UK. Visit generalassemb.ly to find your nearest centre and see what’s available. I’ve found their events very helpful.
  • HICAustralia’s premier health informatics (digital health) conference, run by HISA, the Health Informatics Society of Australia. It’ll be in Brisbane in August, and I’ll be presenting as part of the UX (User Experience) workshop, along with others interested in digital health. I really recommend joining HISA, HiNZ, HIMSS (including their APAC branch), COACH (Canada) or other organisations as a way to get access to valuable resources, networks and skills for eHealth.
  • COACH, Canada’s annual health informatics event early June.
  • HIMSS Asia-Pacific Summit, in Singapore in September. (As a member of HiNZ, you also get full automatic membership to HIMSS Asia-Pacific.)
  • HiNZ, which we wrote about last year; it’ll be in Rotorua this year.
  • The Global Ideas events in Melbourne, inspiring global health innovators with skills including tech and human-centred design thinking. (Read about founder Dr Lloyd Nash’s journey here.)
  • Vogue Codes, an Australian event running in Sydney and Melbourne in August aiming to inspire more women to take up careers in STEM. Speakers include the founders of ClassPass and Shoes of Prey as well as female members of Australia’s startup and tech communities. Being a woman in STEM who loves fashion and the arts, (even if I don’t look the part!), this event really speaks to me, knowing that although society places us into simplistic career boxes (“Medicine!” “Science!” “Engineer!” “Designer!”), we’re much more than just a “science person” or “arty person” 100% of the time.
  • Vivid Sydney’s Ideas program, coming up this week.
  • Girl Geek Academy, an Australian organisation aiming to educate 1 million girls and women in tech by 2025. It also has events in the US.

Doctors, You’ll Never Be Good Enough- And That’s Okay

First published May 12, 2017

Like many in the medical world, I’ve been deeply saddened by the suicide of a Brisbane gastroenterologist, the father of four children, the husband of a loving wife.

I don’t know them personally, but am touched by the email that his wife wrote and son sent online- which has triggered a flood of goodwill from his patients (the Facebook comments on the CourierMail post are so heartening) and from other health professionals and members of the public, who, like me, may not have known him personally, but felt devastated by this very unnecessary loss.

So what can we do? How do we stop others from thinking the only way out is suicide?

What’s the worst that could happen if you choose NOT to die?

 

Your patients may be looked after by other colleagues, or will find other specialists.

 

Your family will be concerned and worried about you, but they will be happier that you’re taking time to recover.

 

Your colleagues will most likely be concerned about you too, not mean-spirited. (If they are, why choose to work with them or choose to listen to them? What do they know about who you really are?)

 

Maybe part of it is our fear of delegating responsibility for our patients to others when we’re too crushed or sick to continue. Handover is so complex- even more as a consultant in private practice for many years. You would have built strong relationships with some of your patients who’ve grown with you; with your staff; with your routine. You would know their test results and the dates of their treatments off by heart.

 

And of course, when a patient dies, it is never easy.

 

Just because you’ve dealt with a patient’s demise or deterioration over and over again during the years, it doesn’t mean your feelings will be bulletproof forever.

 

And then, you also may fear delegating the responsibility of your struggles to others, to psychologists, to counsellors, to psychiatrists, or to a friend who’s a listening ear.

You’re good at curing patients. Why can’t you cure yourself?

You’re feeling enormous responsibility. Why burden others with that terrible weight?

 

There’s so much blame in medicine. We constantly want to be better. It’s the mark of a true professional, a craftsperson even in other professions. You want to better yourself.

 

But even doctors are only human.

 

Maybe we think it’s the absolute end, there’s no way out if we step back for a few days, weeks, months, years- it’s too terrifying at that moment to deal with the enormity of a future you don’t know.

 

We try too hard to control our futures and our patients’ futures, but as doctors and health professionals, and even startup founders, even we can’t control everything.

 

Maybe it’s time to recognise that and embrace it as something positive we can learn to live with.

But don’t do it alone.

Please seek help, no matter what your journey is.

Condolences and respects to Dr Bryant and his family. 

People may look like they’re doing okay on the outside, but are actually screaming for help inside. Please be kind to each other and ask directly, “are you okay?” 

Some useful sites/resources in Australia if you’re seeking help or contemplating suicide:

– Lifeline

– BeyondBlue

– Mens HelpLine

– Mindful in May

– R U OK? suicide prevention

– Victorian Doctors Health Program (please reach out even if you’re not living in the state, people are always happy to suggest other resources)

– your GP

– a psychologist

– a counsellor

– the AMA, which has other links to Drs4Drs which lists resources for Doctors in each State/Territory, and other sites; and the Australasian Doctors NetworkAustralasian Doctors Network which advocates for doctors’ health.

– Online video calls to a psychiatrist (you’ll need a GP referral but it is bulk billed)

– Lysn, a provider of online video calls to a psychologist

– your work’s Employee Assistance Program (many public and private companies including public hospitals in Australia, possibly in your country too, offer this free confidential service through external providers. The RACP also offers this, and probably other fellowship colleges do, too. Don’t be afraid to ask your HR or Workforce managers about this; it’s your right as an employee, and they are human, too, and know everyone goes through stuff.)

Feel free to list other resources you’ve found helpful below in the Comments. 

 

How Can Facebook’s Spaces VR Program Help Patients and Consumers?

First published April 20, 2017

Overnight at Facebook’s F8 conference, Mark Zuckerberg officially announced the launch of Facebook Spaces in beta. Using the Rift platform and available on the Oculus store, purportedly all that’s needed is Oculus Touch and an Internet connection.

 

Essentially, this means Facebook is adding virtual face-to-face interaction. This is a huge win for patients and healthcare consumers.

There are several ways in which we think virtual reality through Facebook will help patients, consumers and clinicians.

Patient communities are a burgeoning interest in healthtech. The Mayo Clinic Connect is an online messaging and education platform where patients and carers can chat with others suffering the same or similar illnesses. Australian app CancerAid is also building patient communities and sharing the burden of cancer with the millions affected by cancer worldwide, through their app for iOS and Android. Imagine the potential for communities to virtually “talk” with each other.

 

Patients can create avatars and share vivid experiences with each other, including their Facebook photos and 360 degree videos. Imagine taking a 360 video of your community hospital’s dialysis unit in Chile with your smartphoneand sharing that in real time with your friends in Norway.

 

Screenshot from Facebook Spaces Oculus’ launch video.

The potential for healthcare education is huge.Facebook Spaces includes a drawing function, meaning that potentially, clinicians could educate patients and families in a more hands-on way, without needing to be in the same room as them. Of course, this helps students and clinicians train for procedures and study for exams, as well.  This could come in handy for rural and residential communities who may not be able to travel to the city for care so readily. Hospitals, clinics and education centres producing educational video content (such as the Royal Children’s Hospital) could potentially integrate their videos into Facebook Spaces, and nurses and staff could help teach with the added drawing function inside the virtual classroom. Imagine teaching a patient about what to expect from a hospital visit through a virtual tour on Facebook Spaces. (Or through our anaesthetist friend’s made-for-VR video!)

 

Facebook Spaces also adds another potential dimension to telehealth. Using Facebook Messenger, video calls can be made, including outside of Facebook to the “real world”. We imagine chatbots for Messenger like Amelie, the mental health chatbot, will have incredible functionality here, where the user’s virtual avatar can consult “face-to-face” with the chatbot counsellor. Sometimes it’s easier to chat to someone you can’t look directly in the eye, and we can imagine people who are too uncomfortable to talk to a face-to-face counsellor or who can barely get out of bed when in a bout of depression may find it easier to start with a chatbot. (One of Amelie’s functions is to guide the participant to further help, rather than replace a professional psychiatrist or psychologist.)

And from a global health perspective, users will be able to virtually “travel” with chatmates and experience different environments. This could help with disaster resource planning, for example sharing VR videos and 360 photos of earthquake – ravaged zones with aid organisations to help their planning for resources and deployment. Similarly, can you imagine how design of healthcare spaces will be impacted? Oculus’s YouTube video above shows a user sharing photos of the apartment she just bought. Again, the virtual tour aspect of public buildings and clinics can help plan for better patient care through architecture and design. Imagine sharing 360 pictures of your Emergency Department layout with other EDs around the world at conferences; or performing emergency simulation training through VR tours and demonstrations.

Are you an app developer or health tech startup founder? Now you have a whole new avenue of possibility to think about when integrating social functions into your product.

Of course, cautions about security and encryption of call content apply here, but just imagine the potential…

We can’t wait to try it!

Got any ideas for how you will use Facebook Spaces in healthcare or for leisure? Comment below and please share this article if you enjoyed it. Sign up for our mailing list if you’d like more updates like these. 

Job Opportunity: Psychiatrists For Telehealth Consults With Conduit Health

First published April 19, 2017

 

Australian Telepsychiatry service Conduit Health are seeking Expressions of Interest from Consultant Psychiatrists registered with AHPRA to join their service.

 

Conduit Health, Telepsychiatry Service. Photo courtesy of Dr Gregory Sam.

Conduit Health was formed when psychiatrist Dr Gregory Sam realised he and his colleagues around Australia needed a solution to serve isolated patients in rural, remote and even residential communities in a high-quality, efficient way. Conduit Health provides services including general psychiatry as well as child and adolescent psychiatry, aged care, and other subspecialties. Benefits of working with Conduit include:

  • job flexibility;
  • working from home;
  • the ability to build your private practice;
  • an electronic medical record service (EMR);
  • all administrative tasks being taken care of (billing, scheduling and typing).

If interested, please contact Sara Ng (Business Development Manager) with your CV, your Expression of Interest and a copy of your qualifications at sara.ng (at) conduithealth.com.au.

Read about founder Dr Greg Sam’s story here. 

Stanford Medicine X Will Stream For Free This Weekend

First published April 18, 2017

 

One of the benefits of broadband and streaming technology is that hard-to-reach events for medical education can be attended from across the world. Stanford Medicine X is acknowledging this and streaming their live conference on the future of medicine this weekend, all the way from California.

The link to attend is here: http://stanford.townhallwebcasts.com/#/events/MedXEdLive

Convert your timezone to match the conference time at this link.

A great interview with one of Stanford Medicine X’s team, Dr Larry Chu, has also been posted here. You can learn about his thoughts on the future of medical education, and how important it is for healthcare workers, consumers and patients to collaborate and communicate across disciplines.

The Singapore-Stanford Biodesign Fellowship is open for applications; read more to apply. 

Read about a young Australian surgical resident who won the Google Impact Prize Challenge with his PhD project, supervised by a Stanford graduate. 

Singapore Stanford Biodesign Paid Fellowship Open for Applications

First published April 17, 2017

 

If you’ve ever wanted to experience medical innovation in Asia, this opportunity is for you.

The Singapore Stanford Biodesign Fellowship gives clinicians, engineers, developers, designers, and other aspiring healthcare innovators the opportunity to be immersed in a healthcare innovation project for a year. A unique program that unites diverse career pathways, the SSB Fellowship comprises five months at Stanford in America; immersion and project rollout in a Singaporean hospital; and a three-week clinical immersion in another Asian hospital outside of Singapore. Similar to the original Stanford Biodesign Fellowship, a stipend is included for the program’s duration.

Members of the Singapore-Stanford Biodesign Fellowship team. Pic courtesy of SSB.

The clinical theme for the year is selected by SSB’s Board members, challenging participants to develop valuable experience in areas outside their usual training. New ideas are stimulated when an orthopaedic trainee is given an obstetrics focus for the program; similarly, we believe strongly in thinking outside the box to generate better medical solutions.

Some of the program’s previous fellows have gone on to commercialise their projects and been listed on Forbes’ “30 under 30.” There is an option to extend the program for a further period of time after the initial year.

Entries close 2nd May 2017. Preference is given to Singaporean citizens and permanent residents; however, it’s worth a shot if you’re passionate about healthcare and medical technology in Asia. For more information, please visit ssbiodesign.org.

To hear about other programs and opportunities, sign up for our mailing list

Coming Up This Week: Digital Health Show in Melbourne

First published March 27, 2017

The Digital Health Show has moved to Melbourne this year.

Tickets are available for their Summits (single or two-day passes) and free EXPO passes.

Learn from international and local speakers and presenters about the various ways you can get involved with eHealth in your area.

We were inspired by the Aged Care/Geriatric Medicineinnovations at last year’s event, as well as other highlights which you can read more about here.

Tickets are at digitalhealthshow.com.au

You + Career ≠ Self Worth

First published March 19, 2017

 

It’s devastating to hear of yet another young doctor suicide in Australia.

As the papers report, the 4th known in 6 months; probably many more unreported.

That doesn’t include the statistics for other healthcare professionals in Australia, or of those who work within healthcare; and of course, those from non-healthcare professions, too.

We don’t know the victims personally, and we’re not going to pretend we know their story.

But we know our own stories.

The pressure of our careers and perfectionism in the age of Instagram is higher than ever, and we want to remind everyone:

Your career is not your value as a person.

We know it.

And we can give advice on how things can change in the healthcare profession.

Because, this may not surprise you, these exact same issues crop up in the startup world, too. 

 

The same exacting degree of impossible high standards. 

Being the top one percent of the cream of the crop. 

Feeling like you have to beat and compete with that top percent of the cream of the crop. 

Congratulating yourself for pushing through 100 hour work weeks or more without a break, week on week.

Being made to feel ashamed when you try to enjoy your Sunday off but have hours of lectures to catch up on.

Being told by senior bosses and advisors that “we’ve been there, we’ve done that, we’ve pushed through insane hours at the risk to our health and our relationships, too.”

The thing is, thirty years down the track, the seniors in various professions may have neglected to realise the impact that social media and digital devices have on all industries and their workers.

We’re constantly surrounded by information overload.

Our email inboxes keep filling.

Those Tweets keep flowing in.

Our patients demand the best, and we are doing our best within our limited neural networks. 

Peer pressure scorns you when you haven’t published enough papers.

Your brain and body work best when you have enough rest.

We have to accept that we can never know everything. 

We’re not perfect.

And despite the external factors set to validate “success,” we have to remember we’re able to set our own internal values. 

We’ve been in the undergraduate medical class where people sneered at Mindfulness and Resilience training.

We’ve been there when we were too scared to call in sick despite being sick with gastro, because we’re worried our colleagues will think we’re too “soft” or faking it.

We’ve seen colleagues return to work when they’re still having gastro, risking hospital outbreaks, because they are the only Registrar on call that weekend in a major city hospital, and their bosses don’t get paid for stepping in for them.

You feel pressured to return to work before you’re well, too.

Yet other colleagues make it difficult for the workplace to trust your cohort, because when they call in sick, they’re pictured at festive events the same day they were meant to work.

We’ve been told we’re worthless by Directors of Training, despite studying and working at the cost of seeing loved ones when they needed us.

We’ve cried through weekends off because they were never really “off” when you had to study, study, and study for fellowship.

We were told by Colleges and work paraphernalia to look after yourself and seek help.

When we tried to do more sport or see friends, we had the opportunity cost of less time for study group.

We were told we didn’t want it badly enough, and we knew that was bull.

Yet it’s never enough.

There’s always going to be someone who says you’re too “soft” or worse.

You have to learn to tune them out.

You have to know what’s important to yourself.

What happens if you do achieve that goal you’re seeking? Will it really make you happy? Or will it more likely unlock another list of far-reaching career accomplishments you’ll need to add to your LinkedIn?

You have to accept that the only thing you can be perfect at is being YOU. 

Being the one who your aunts and childhood friends call on your birthday.

The one who gets to hold your nephew.

The one who gets to laugh at your partner’s jokes.

The one who bakes the best cake in the family.

Who were you before you started your degree?

What interests did you enjoy along with medicine or your profession?

What did you do to relax?

If the answer’s “Nothing!” to all of that, you can still start something now.

Did you ever talk to anyone outside of work about your problems?

The strongest thing you can do is find someone.

Your problems are NEVER too small to share with someone who cares or is trained to help. 

Lifeline, Beyond Blue, a counsellor, psychologist, a GP, the Victorian Doctors’ Health Program– they’re all there to help you.

Most major workplaces including hospitals, manufacturing factories, corporations, and so forth- have an Employee Assistance Program or similar where staff can access free, confidential counselling sessions.

You can go to the other side of town or chat over the phone, and not let it be known to anyone in your workplace or fellowship college.

You may not click with that counsellor or listener immediately, but persist – or try someone else. It’s not personal. The counsellor relationship doesn’t have to be perfect immediately.

Try something new. The brain loves novelty. Attend an acting class. An illustration class. A free yoga session on the beach. Be anonymous. Challenge yourself to step out from what you know. That one-hour break at the new yoga session could be exactly what you need to feel reinspired.

Call a friend you haven’t seen since school. It’s amazing how similar our paths are, despite differences in uni degree (or lack of- and it’s incredible what lives people can build for themselves without a college or uni diploma!). The same stressors. The same feelings of lack of self-worth in any industry.

A key reason why we started this blog was to inspire others about healthcare and entrepreneurship. Because those skills and these stories of real people who have hit rock bottom before career success, can be used by you, too. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re medical or not.

At the crux of it, you’re doing whatever you do because you want to do good.

And doing good (and being well enough to do this) involves taking risks.

You’re thinking like an entrepreneur if you take a risk and decide to take time out from training.

You’re thinking like a startup founder by deciding to apply for a paid Biodesign Fellowship overseasinstead of following the PhD route the majority are taking.

You’re a risk-taker if you decide to apply for a Google prize through your PhD.

You’re creative by founding a cancer app combining clinicians’ and patients’ needs instead of waiting a few years to finish training before starting to make an impact.

And you’re a champion if you’re learning to deal with your fears

Both the medical and startup worlds must learn to be kind to their own. 

But while they’re learning how to do so (and it’s really not that hard to be nice), refuse to be a victim. 

You are in control of your actions.

Be yourself. Be passionate about being your best self, in medicine or any tribe you’re connected to.

And allow yourself to receive kindness from others.

You’re not alone.

Help can be found in Australia from many sources including Lifeline (13 11 44), BeyondBlueBlack Dog Institute, the Victorian Doctors’ Health Program, and your GP. Please comment below if you have more resources to share including outside Australia.
There is also a donation fund set up in honour of a recent doctor-suicide victim.
Thank you for reading this. 

Book Review: Programming Your Mind For Success Through “She Means Business” by Carrie Green

First published March 15, 2017

 

We came across Carrie Green and The Female Entrepreneur Association via Facebook awhile ago. Having benefited from being a part of their community, and having experienced Carrie’s work firsthand, it was a delight to see that her book is now available worldwide.

 

Carrie’s book “She Means Business” is available at Australian and international bookstores as well as online. Pic: The Medical Startup

We gain a lot of medical startup lessons from other industries, and Carrie has built an industry-agnostic community based on her experiences as a sole female founder of a tech company. She did this while studying Law in the UK, creating a mobile phone-unlocking business back in the pre-smartphone era. She taught herself how to build a website, and showed how just launching (even when she felt the website wasn’t that attractive) helped her business progress faster. (“Done is better than perfect” in many cases!) According to “She Means Business,” her business turned over $50,000 a month. But she was unhappy, and realised meaning was missing from her life.

 

 

After several months of personal exploration, Carrie realised her mission was to empower female business owners worldwide, and to connect with others sharing her experiences. It’s well-known that women (generally speaking) connect in business differently to men. Sheryl Sandberg covers great ground in her book “Lean In” about those differences, and how women and men can support each other in their journeys to leadership and fulfilment. Carrie uses her own personality and lessons from exploring the mindset of business success to empower over 100,000 women across the world, now generating more than $90,000 a month in revenue through the Female Entrepreneur Association.

Yet, it takes time to build a success. Carrie says it took five years for this revenue target to be achieved. She mentions that as recently as 2012, the FEA was growing, but was not financially sustainable. Being frank about these realities helps readers remember that we’re all human, and that time is the biggest investment in a successful life, no matter what success means to you – financially, spiritually, or otherwise. And because we’re all limited by time, what would you most want to spend your greatest asset working on?

The Female Entrepreneur Association differs from other business groups by focusing first and foremost on Mindset. The Mindset of Success and empowering your self-talk is what will get you through the hard times; the moments of self-doubt; the crippling anxiety of “will it fail?,” and the push to quit versus persist. Carrie shares her many tools and tricks, which you’d normally have to pay a monthly Member’s fee for access to, in a very readable and enjoyable book, written in her warm, conversational voice. For men who are thinking this book isn’t for them, Carrie reveals that many of the mindset tools she’s equipped with come from her dad’s books and audio collection. Her dad even sent Carrie and her siblings (brothers and sister!) to classes on resilience and positive thinking when they were kids. Carrie speaks often, including on TEDx, about “programming your mind for success,” and while reading this book, you’ll realise that your greatest tool for startup success is your mind.

Purchasing the book also unlocks a 28-day “She Means Business” challenge, with actions guided by Carrie throughout the book as well as bonuses online.

Purchase “She Means Business” through Amazon or Book Depository.  

*note: affiliate links in this article- we may earn commission from the bookseller.

Interview with Dr Linny Kimly Phuong, Founder of The Water Well Project

First published March 8, 2017

 

Happy International Women’s Day!

Future Paediatrician Dr Linny Kimly Phuong created The Water Well Project as a solution to the problems she saw in migrants, refugees and asylum seekers with varied degrees of health literacy. This not-for-profit runs free health education sessions for people of refugee or asylum seeker background. Volunteer healthcare professionals host education sessions on common health topics, such as healthy eating, and navigating the Australian healthcare system.

It’s a win-win for all parties. Not only do attendees regain a much-needed focus on their health, and learn what healthcare resources are available to them, particularly after traumatic life events; healthcare professionals also improve their communication skills and life perspectives by meeting people of diverse backgrounds.

 

Dr Linny Kimly Phuong (2nd from left) with other committee members at a City of Melbourne Awards presentation. Photo courtesy of Linny and The Water Well Project.

The Water Well Project was named to represent the safe space and traditional communal meeting place where many communities worldwide meet and talk whilst collecting water.

Through her work, Linny has gathered a great team of volunteers to help deliver sessions around Victoria; and was a state finalist for the Young Australian of the Year, all whilst completing her General Paediatrics and Paediatric Infectious Diseases training in Melbourne. If you’d like to support The Water Well Project through volunteering, donations or partnerships, please visit thewaterwellproject.org.

We learnt about Linny’s journey below.

 

How did The Water Well Project begin? 

I definitely didn’t do this on my own.

And I didn’t set out to start a charity, it sort of just happened.

But I had a great group of friends and mentors who helped the idea get off the ground, and away we went.

What was the scariest thing about getting started?

Not knowing what the project was going to become.

How do you manage your time as Founder and Chair of The Water Well Project as well as your work as a Paeds ID fellow at the Royal Children’s?

Work life balance is not my friend right now. I am hoping 2017 is the year where this improves.

My clinical role is quite demanding, so I do a lot of work on the Project after hours and on weekends; and of course I have lots of helpers.

How has the Project helped you with your clinical work (and your life outside of medicine)?

Being involved with people of refugee and asylum seeker background always reminds me of the journey my parents came on to get to Australia.

In my clinical work, I have learnt how to work effectively with interpreters and better engage with individuals of refugee and asylum seeker background. I also love hearing stories about how people arrived in Australia and am always touched by their resilience.

Do you have any mentors or people you look up to for guidance or advice? Are they medical?

I am so grateful that I have had many mentors throughout my short career to date thus far. Some are medical, some are not. They all offer me differing viewpoints on life and provide me with a greater perspective on things.

How did you learn how to create a non-profit? 

A lot of reading and learning along the way!

 

Linny and other committee members of The Water Well Project. Photo courtesy of Linny Kimly Phuong and The Water Well Project.

What’s your biggest dream or goal for The Water Well Project?

I would love the operations of The Water Well Project to remain sustainable both logistically and financially; and for there to be a greater awareness of our organisation outside the medical arena.
My dream is that we are one day able to employ an inspirational CEO-like figure who takes on the responsibilities of maintaining and growing The Water Well Project. I would love for us to reach  those communities who would benefit most from our services, particularly those who are outside of metropolitan Melbourne.

Any advice for others wanting to create a non-profit or social enterprise? 

Do your research in finding out who you can work with within your desired sector. The best projects are collaborative and do not create unnecessary duplication.

How can people get involved with The Water Well Project, whether they are doctors or not?  

People can get involved in a number of ways- they can volunteer as healthcare professionals, contribute their skills in other support roles or make a donation to The Water Well Project.

To find out more about The Water Well Project’s upcoming events, please visit thewaterwellproject.org.