I always knew I wanted to be a doctor, but my path to and through medical school was anything but linear. I have however loved the journey immensely - the meandering, the trying, the failing, the salvaging and the re-building. I now work as a junior doctor in a busy Surgical department in Auckland. It is a huge privilege to be part of people's lives when they are at their most vulnerable. While I was pregnant with my first baby and off on parental leave, I began to crave a creative outlet. That's how Natasha Ritz and I actually met many years ago at high school, because we shared a love of the Arts. She was (is!) this incredible performer and I am forever in awe of her stage presence and talent. Some years ago I was an editor of the Medical School magazine where I got to hone my graphic design skills. I decided to channel this love into my online business Playing Dirty Studio, which I run via the Etsy platform. It keeps me sane when my 'real job' becomes too heavy or heart-breaking.
A desire to help and heal, and a hunger to do more. I am acutely aware of the privilege I have, and it is far more than I deserve. As doctors, we see first-hand the effects of social injustice, from the kids who have no shoes to the whole families sleeping in their cars. I want to serve my community by focusing my efforts on not only my patients and their families, but to effect change at a wider systemic level. At the moment though, what usually gets me out of bed is my beautiful but perpetually hungry baby girl - seriously, you'd think we never feed her.
On so many occasions, my 'Plan A' didn't eventuate. I've learnt that this is normal and healthy, indeed often necessary. Just trust in the timing of your own life. I have also learnt that there is power in being underestimated. Too often I've been written off for being too brown, too feminine, too short, too smiley, too whatever. When someone underestimates me, they give me a challenge and an opportunity to surprise them. Surprise always makes people pay attention.
Medical training in any chosen specialty is a long and arduous road, with many more years of study and exams ahead of me. I plan to take the scenic route. For now I'm focussing on being the best clinician I can, alongside learning how to build a passive income, and making sure I have time to enjoy the journey.
Bend, don't break. Women can have it all, just not all at the same time. It truly takes a village and I would not be where I am without the endless support of my husband, my parents and my closest friends. Lean on your supports and ask for help. If I could give more than one piece of advice I would say - take naps, have holidays, go to therapy, eat well (mostly plants), enjoy hobbies, cultivate healthy friendships and be kind...most of all with yourself.
Check out Natasha's business on ETSY, Playing Dirty Studio
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