#IWD17: DR NIKKI STAMP
Dr Nikki Stamp FRACS
University attended: University of Western Australia
Specialty: Cardiothoracic & Transplant Surgery
Other career achievements/accolades/titles/positions:
Elected to RACS Council, Committee Member for Doctors Health Advisory Service (DHAS WA), Member of Thoracic Surgery Social Media for Annals of Thoracic Surgery, Ambassador for Heart Foundation and contributor for Huffington Post and other media outlets
What obstacles have you faced as a woman in medicine? How were you able to overcome them?
A lot of the bias that women face in workplaces is unconscious and systems based. It is the times we don't get picked for a job, or we're not privy to conversations in the male change rooms or we can't access the leave we need. Not to mention that women are held to much higher standards both clinically and behaviourally with any frustration leading to nasty labels that the men just don't get. That's always been really frustrating for me to face because it's subtle and very hard to pin down and therefore change. The more upfront comments like 'women can't be surgeons' or when the patient thinks the junior male doctor is actually in charge is so incredibly frustrating but honestly, I make a point of calling it out and then using it to do better and be better. It's also a great reason to be a visible voice and role model to oppose the negativity and the status quo.
What has been your career highlight to date?
Academically, by far and away the best day of my life was the day I passed my fellowship exam. My clinical career highlight? Anytime that our team has been able to step in and truly save someone's life or make an enormous difference to their quality of life is fantastic and it never gets old.
During your training, did you ever encounter any negative gender-based comments?
Absolutely. Sometimes in jest or sometimes seriously. They came from patients, other doctors, nurses. Some days, I brush it off and just ignore it but mostly now I call it out and challenge those perceptions, hopefully with a dash of humour. If you spend every day angry at someone you will never get any work done and you will never make a positive change. Channel the frustration into something positive.
What commitments do you have outside of work and how challenging do you find maintaining a work-life balance?
I have a cat who is my fur baby and is very annoyed when I'm late and she's hungry! I have friends and family who are great at keeping me grounded and being there for me when I need it. I try to keep physically fit by swimming and running which I usually do at the crack of dawn otherwise I'm too tired at night! I don't have a perfect work-life balance but I'm getting better at learning when I need to put myself first.
What advice would you give to young female medical students with high career aspirations?
Go into your career with your eyes open, curious to learn all of the good things and the bad things then make a decision based on what is right for you. Not for anyone else. But never let anyone tell you that your gender is the reason you can't do a job because that is just not the case.
Published: 08 Mar 2017