PEOPLE: John Monash Scholar – Dr. Laura Dryburgh

Can you tell our readers what a normal day looks like for Dr Laura Dryburgh

I’m currently working as a medical registrar in the regional town of Armidale on the Tablelands of Northern NSW. A medical registrar is the backbone of the hospital and we cover anything from calls from the Emergency Department to see a patient with an acute medical issue, such as a stroke or heart attack, to attending resuscitation situations to seeing patient in the outpatient clinic to teaching medical students. It’s a busy job but one of its joys is the diversity of individuals we interact with on a daily basis. 

Outside of work I like to squeeze some exercise into my day – usually a run, swim or a hit of tennis. Working and living in a country town you end up being close with your colleagues and so we try and catch up once a week for trivia or a meal.

How important is diversity to you and in the work that you do?

As a medical doctor I interact with individuals from every walk of life every day. It is one of the joys of medical life. This has taught me so much about treating every individual equally but also understanding their unique set of circumstances that make them who they are. I’ve been lucky enough to spend some time with a wide array of communities (such as remote First Nations communities, outback communities and refugee communities) while working as a doctor delivering medical care. Outside of clinical work I have enjoyed teaching and mentoring Indigenous medical students through the University of Newcastle Wollutuka Institute.

Have you ever faced challenges in your professional career from others because of your identity and if so, how were you able to overcome that?

Working as a young female doctor I am challenged everyday both by patients as well as the inherited male orientated hierarchical structure of the medical system. This really affected me in my earlier clinical years, and I know that women in medicine often really struggle with the social norms around doctor gender typing. I have found owning my role the most effective way to challenge these stereotypes and overcome my own imposter syndrome fears. On a day-to-day basis that involves me introducing myself as a doctor and redirecting individuals when they answer my clinical questions to male medical students standing in the room. I’ve also worked really hard to become the best clinician and communicator I can be such that my patients are assured of mine, and therefore other female doctors, ability to care for them well. I seek out leadership and service positions within the health network I work for to promote diversity amongst clinical leaders.

ADVICE FOR THE YOUTH

Find mentors who value you for your individuality and what you specifically can bring to that table. Stay enthusiastic about what you are striving for – enthusiasm allows you to connect with people in ways you never imagined.