“Know what sparks the light in you. Then use that light to inspire the world.”
When she was growing up Chrissy wanted to be a teacher. But when she was caring for her little sister in a hospital, she was inspired to be something else. To be a doctor. Here is her story.
You know how sometimes you go to a doctor and they really make you FEEL like a patient? Yeah? A bit uncomfortable?
Well I urge you to find a doctor like Chrissy!
We spoke about her career as a GP, her journey through medical school- where she met her surgeon husband, her family, school life, her children and the fact that we mums ALL have a pile of books we intend to read but never get around to. By the end of our chat, I had forgotten that Chrissy was a doctor.
I hold her in such high esteem for the commitment and hard work required to hold such a profession, and yet underneath, she’s a mum, a wife and a friend. She’s down to earth, chatty and happy.
But how did she get there?
It started with sacrifice and hard, bloody work.
Her Greek parents were cleaners while Chrissy and her siblings attended school. They gave all they could to allow their daughter to follow her dream of becoming a doctor.
A spell in hospital as a patient, for her sister, showed Chrissy the caring side of medicine. The interaction with both science and people really changed her path.
Medical school followed school and it was here she met her now husband.
Like many, many women, Chrissy had to learn how to juggle being a mum (to three gorgeous girls), being a wife AND being a general practitioner. Talk about responsibility !
This led me to ask her what the hardest thing about ‘medicine’ was.
She said that the rapid growth of research, drugs and protocols within the field of medicine AND working part time and keeping informed was ‘a bit tricky’. Ya think? You GO Chrissy!
To help with the expectations placed on her, Chrissy loves a medical conference. She said that the environment allows her to retain more information within a short time.
My suggestion to Chrissy (doctor, mum, wife, counsellor, chauffeur, advisor, tutor, sport supporter….you know…..all the hats!)- is to make the damned most of those conferences! SLAM the buffet, RAID the mini bar and RENT those box office hits! You deserve it!
What I was so glad to hear from Chrissy is that when it comes to expectations from patients and family- as working mums, she understands that her self care is important too.
As with many industries, rapid changes seem to happen exponentially and while the birth of the internet allowed an overflow of information (and don’t worry Chrissy, I was working pre-internet too, with pens and paper and stuff. I even had to hand develop X-ray images!) and this increase in information creates higher expectations from patients. So over the last 20 years of practising, Chrissy has had to ebb and flow with self-diagnosed-Dr.Google-informed sick people.
She said “it’s about managing patients’ expectations and yet treating the problem in front of me.”
Another change over the past years Chrissy has noticed is the fact that “a lot of people aren’t taking responsibility for their own health.”. Perhaps generational, perhaps just a cyclic shift, but regardless “we are from a generation who just rolled up their sleeves and got on with the job”. I agree Chrissy. Whole-heartedly .
A noticeable difference in her work is the increasing number of young adolescents with anxiety and depression. Chrissy believes the family unit has broken down generally.
“We don’t communicate like we used to.”
“We talk less to each other and perhaps we don’t listen either?”
“Our lives have just become so busy that we just don’t have that conversation as a family any more. Kids want to feel like they’re a part of something.”
Perhaps also technology is sapping the social skills and associated, valuable support from friends? Perhaps Insta and Snapchat’s perfect body images are just too damaging? Just a thought….and another whole blog post.
Another shift in society has created a generation with decreasing social skills and this is one thing Chrissy LOVES about her job. People! She loves interaction and “making people better and being a part of their lives.”
Her current interests are edging towards palliative care where she said “you can see the best AND the worst in people”. I couldn’t think of a better person to take on that role! Chrissy’s friendly nature and intelligence would help so many through the darkest of their days. I wish her all the best if this is her next chapter!
In such a diverse, fast paced and highly expectant society I asked Chrissy if holistic medicine is affecting her work. She explained that many patients are looking for answers from the East but “as medicos, we are a very scientific and black and white in our thinking. We need hard facts before we prescribe medications”. She is open to incorporating feedback from naturopaths and other holistic practitioners but realises there are many who are “dodgy” and “so expensive”.
We mums often wonder what our children might end up doing when they leave school (and yes- as long as they’re happy and passionate).
I asked Chrissy if she thinks her girls might ‘follow in her footsteps’.
Does Chrissy have tough times?
Being emotionally connected yet staying clinical and dealing with incorrect diagnoses are the toughest challenges in being a doctor.
She finds great support in her medico husband and from her all-female study group where cases and articles are shared and discussed. De-briefing and wine are very important catalysts for these study groups. Amen to that sista!
She stated “I think de-briefing is REALLY powerful.”
“To get together with like minded women who have your back is so important. I think if you have that- you can get through anything.”
Questioning ourselves and our abilities doesn’t just stop at trying to curl our hair like the hairdresser does or trying to blog like Oprah ( I don’t even know if she DOES blog). It impresses upon doctors too.
“Am I a good doctor?” vs. “Am I a good mum?”…..you know the whole balance thing we’re meant to control every day? Amongst the obscene amount of odd socks in the basket, the car service ‘when you get a chance’, the chauffeuring of children to sports too painful to watch and the ironing of the husband’s shirts (I don’t iron- just thought I’d better write that though).
Upon conversing with a practice manager recently, Chrissy explained her self-doubt and distrust in her abilities. It was explained that ‘Imposter Syndrome’ IS an understood condition whereby we don’t believe or take heed in the positive feedback from friends and colleagues of our good work.
Chrissy said ” I think especially as working mums we get Imposter Syndrome and doubt ourselves.” She said that often GP’s DON’T get the positive feedback. They sometimes wonder whether they really are making a difference in people’s lives.
(If you are a patient of Chrissy’s, I am happy to deliver any flowers, chocolates, tea, magazines, single airfares or authentic Thank You cards to her.)
Awareness is increasing for the importance of self care in any job.
‘Luckily’ Chrissy learnt this early on in her career. She had finished her exams, went straight to a full time job AND worked the weekends. She burnt out.
She said “we’re getting better at teaching self care to med students. It’s SO important.”
Chrissy goes out of her way to speak to students ‘off the record’ with her 20 years experience and reminds them of their humanness and natural imperfection. She teaches them that each patient (or part of a patient) is part of a social unit.
She says “you’re not just treating a patient, you’re treating their family as well. There are consequences to everything we do.”
In her ‘down time’ (whatever!), Chrissy reads books or relishes a hot cup of tea, walks, listens to music and wants to start sewing again.
I think it’s appropriate that I’ve written this blog on International Women’s Day.
It’s strong women like Chrissy we need to celebrate.
I admire her openness at sharing her story with its ups and downs and I thank her for being an authentic human who ‘wants to make a difference in people’s lives’ You DO Chrissy.
It’s a tough and sometimes unrelenting job and Chrissy rolls up her sleeves and get’s the work done. She also loves her family and the support of her friends (for wine and debriefing).
Connecting with people is clearly Chrissy’s passion and if you know her- you are blessed.
Good luck with your future dreams and pursuits Chrissy! May your next conference have a HUGE minibar and the best of New Release movies in store. You deserve it.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!
Have you had an experience (good or bad) with a doctor you’d like to share?
No? How about sending Chrissy some love then?!