This O&G Magazine feature sees Dr Nisha Khot 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 @Nishaobgyn
Dr Lindsay Edwards
Dr Lindsay Edwards is a true Tasmanian. She was born in Devonport (on the north west coast of Tasmania) and graduated from the University of Tasmania in 2003. She initially thought that a career in general practice with a focus on women’s and children’s health would be her preference. That changed, however, once she attended an ALSO course where she was thrown in the deep end with a simulated birth with shoulder dystocia and postpartum haemorrhage. From that moment on, she was hooked. She moved to Victoria to complete her training and subspecialisation in maternal-fetal medicine (MFM). She returned to Hobart in February 2017 to establish a MFM service for the women of Tasmania.
Dr Edwards is currently the Chair of the Tasmanian State Committee for RANZCOG as well as the Chair of the organising committee for the 2020 RANZCOG ASM, and co-chair for the 2020 ADIPS/SOMANZ ASM, both of which will be held in Hobart. She is the Tasmanian lead of the Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance, spearheading a project to reduce the high rates of preterm birth in Tasmania using a targeted approach of education and evidence-based care planning. She has also teamed up with some researchers through the University of Tasmania to establish a placenta biobank, and will be studying the role of pericytes in the placenta of pregnancies complicated by fetal growth restriction.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day starts at 6am with a walk or a run with Maggie, my energetic Australian Shepherd. This is much harder in Hobart in the winter months when it is dark and cold, but Maggie always manages to put me in the right frame of mind for work. My work day is a mixture of counselling, scanning, supervising and mentoring. The clinical work usually finishes at 6pm and then it is time to catch up with emails and all the paperwork. My day often ends the same way as it started, with a quick walk with Maggie (or sometimes Netflix on the couch).
Why did you choose MFM and what makes it special for you?
I really enjoyed obstetrics during my O&G training. Gynaecology, on the other hand, was not something I felt particularly drawn to. I was much more comfortable with an ultrasound transducer in my hand, rather than a laparoscope, and in 2016, I completed my Diploma of Diagnostic Ultrasound in O&G. I love that as an MFM subspecialist, I am often in a very privileged role of helping women and families negotiate difficult, life changing experiences. Though I currently work exclusively in the public system, I am able to provide continuity of care, and form relationships that continue throughout one pregnancy and into the next. I especially love this component of MFM.
How do you balance your personal and professional life?
Not very well! Having heard Vijay speak at the last ASM, my new mantra is work-life integration rather than balance. My work brings me joy and I think this is critical to personal wellbeing.
When and where is your next holiday (especially since 2020 is going to be a very busy year for you)?
I am looking forward to Disneyland in July with my husband, sister in law, and niece. It really is the happiest place on earth! I fell in love with rollercoasters when I got on one for the very first time in 2018 in Disneyland. Before then, I wasn’t very brave.
If you could, would you do anything differently in your career?
I moved back to Tasmania in 2017 almost immediately after completing my MFM training. If I could, I would have liked to stay in Melbourne for a bit longer to consolidate my experience, or perhaps travelled overseas to gain experience of how MFM services are organised in different countries. I’m looking to do this via a sabbatical in the near future.
What advice would you give to a trainee starting their career?
Be passionate. Training in O&G can be all-consuming but your passion will keep you going.
Take every opportunity offered; you never know where it may lead.
What words best describe your life?
Chaotic but thoroughly enjoyable.
Are you willing to be contacted by trainees for career advice/mentoring?
Yes, I would be very happy to advise trainees as well as mentor them, especially local Tasmanians. I would love to see Tasmanian medical graduates return to Tasmania and join the healthcare workforce.
What have been your career-defining moments?
The ALSO course that I attended as a resident medical officer put me on the path to O&G training. Hearing Prof Sue Walker speak at a MRANZCOG revision course in 2010 was truly inspiring. As I sat in the audience, I thought to myself, I want to work with her one day. It is so important to have strong role models to aspire to early in your career.
Returning home to Hobart in 2017, and finally receiving my Certification in MFM at the ASM in Melbourne last year.
Where did you learn your leadership skills?
At home! I am the eldest child and so I was always very organised and highly motivated (or bossy, as my siblings might say). I feel my leadership skills, however, are still a work in progress.
Does the current training program prepare trainees for leadership?
Yes and no. Yes because as trainees, we get to experience both the positive effects of good leadership as well as the negative effects of poor leadership.
We don’t have a structured way of learning or teaching leadership. This is something that would be a good investment for senior trainees to prepare them to take on leadership roles.
What do you see as the challenges for current RANZCOG trainees?
The challenge of acquiring surgical skills is one that will have long-term effects on trainees and on women’s health service provision in the future.
There is increasing awareness of the high levels of burnout and mental health issues among trainees as well as consultants. We know that this has implications not only for the doctors themselves but also for the patients we care for. This is an issue that we as a profession have to address urgently.
What would you tell your younger self if you had the chance to go back in time?
Trust your instincts and don’t worry too much about what anyone else thinks. And where you can, choose to be kind.
Thank you to Dr Kirsten Connan for establishing the Leaders in Focus column as a regular feature in O&G Magazine. Her shoes are hard to fill but, fortunately, I can always rely on her for guidance. I have taken my lead from Kirsten by featuring Dr Lindsay Edwards, the first MFM subspecialist and an emerging leader from Tasmania, Kirsten’s home state. I aam truly excited to continue this column and look forward to celebrating all the rich diversity that exists among the Fellows and Diplomates of our College.
– Dr Nisha Khot