This new O&G Magazine feature sees Dr Kirsten Connan in conversation with RANZCOG members in a broad range of leadership positions. We hope you find this an interesting and inspiring read. Join the conversation on Twitter #CelebratingLeadership @RANZCOG @connankf
A/Prof Groom began her O&G career in the UK at St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College London. She found quality senior house officer (SHO) opportunities limited in the National Health Service (NHS) and a PhD opportunity presented itself. During this time she fell in love with a Kiwi, and having completed her PhD (examining the potential of COX- 2 inhibitors to prevent preterm birth), made the move to New Zealand.
With a newfound passion for clinical research, A/Prof Groom completed her FRANZCOG (2010) and CMFM (2013). She commenced a dual academic and clinical role at National Women’s Health, Auckland City Hospital, and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Auckland.
What three words best describe your life?
Challenging, hectic, rewarding.
Do you see yourself as a feminist?
Yes, if it’s in the setting of equal rights and equal opportunity for men and women. I’m extremely excited by our new female Prime Minister in New Zealand and her pregnancy news left me smiling for days!
Do you see yourself as a leader?
I see myself as an evolving leader and I increasingly recognise the gift of leadership as a platform for advocacy. I have to confess, I’ve had no formal leadership or media training, although Auckland University offers this.
How do you maintain your resilience in a demanding career?
I’ve just returned to clinical work from sabbatical leave, this allowed me some time to remember what motivates me. Maintaining resilience is an ongoing challenge, but I love my job and my engagement with patients and colleagues drives me on a daily basis.
What do you see for the future of O&G?
The increasing feminisation of our specialty has both benefits and challenges. We need to increase our conversations about this issue, to ensure our specialty remains attractive and progressive for future trainees.
What role do you see for the College in the future?
It would be great to see implementation of a RANZCOG-wide course on cultural competence. This is just starting in New Zealand, but it would be great to see RANZCOG offer this across both countries. Many New Zealand Fellows feel a divide within RANZCOG between Australia and New Zealand. RANZCOG should strive for collaboration between all members. The tension between private and public sector agendas is challenging for RANZCOG, but again one worthy of further conversation.
What advice would you give to new trainees?
Don’t rush. Your training years are a unique opportunity. Try all avenues of our specialty, be open to a change in your path and definitely consider a role in academic medicine. Question why we practise the way we do. I’d encourage and advocate that every clinician should be involved in research.
Are you willing to be contacted for career advice?
I am very willing to provide advice on clinical research and maternal fetal medicine training.
I thank A/Prof Groom for her time and valuable comments. She is one of a number of inspiring clinical researchers we have in Australia and New Zealand.
Women in O&G leadership within Australia and New Zealand
In 2017, RANZCOG had a female specialist membership of 46 per cent and a female trainee membership of 80 per cent. Women represented 14 per cent of RANZCOG board membership (the same statistic as seen in 2012) and 32 per cent of RANZCOG councillors. Average female leadership was 26 per cent for RANZCOG, 23 per cent for RANZCOG-accredited hospitals and 26 per cent for university O&G departments in Australia and New Zealand. A/Prof Christine Tippett is the only female president since RANZCOG’s inception in 1998.
In 2017, women held 23 per cent of leadership positions in RANZCOG-accredited hospitals in Australia and 58 per cent of leadership positions in RANZCOG-accredited hospitals in New Zealand. Within O&G university departments, women held 20 per cent of leadership positions in Australia and 67 per cent of leadership positions in New Zealand.
New Zealand’s National Women’s Hospital currently has an all-female leadership team, the largest cohort of women in leadership for any O&G hospital in Australia or New Zealand. In 2017, Westmead Hospital was a notable outliner for Australian hospitals with 80 per cent female leadership.