A look at the working life of two mothers who are senior physicians
With Mother’s Day around the corner, we’re checking in with two Wavelength doctors, and mothers, to see how they manage parenting with a thriving locum medical career.
We spoke with Dr Ashani Lecamwasam (Nephrologist and General Physician) who has a 22-month-old daughter, and Dr Zara Amer (Nephrologist and General Physician) who has two teenage daughters in high school.
Yes, you can be a mother and have a thriving career in medicine.
What inspired you to become a doctor and what do you enjoy most about being a General Physician?
From a very young age I always enjoyed helping people, combine that with a keen interest in biology and chemistry, and that is what led me to study medicine. I consider it a privilege to make a positive impact on a person’s health and well-being, plus I enjoy the variety and challenge of clinical presentations and the broad spectrum of cases. I am especially grateful for the opportunities to combine medicine, teaching and research in the service of others.
I decided to become a doctor when I was in high school. I was fascinated by the work of a doctor whom I met as a child, and I wanted to serve people and ease their suffering. As a Physician, I enjoy the variety of looking after patients with a diverse range of acute and complex medical conditions.
What is the most rewarding experience you have had during your medical career?
During my registrar years, I was involved in a MET call. After alternating the CPR with a colleague, we were able to resuscitate this person back to life. I also appreciate working in palliative care medicine. Families are so grateful when you are able to give their loved one dignity during the dying process. Communicating with empathy is very important during these circumstances.
The most rewarding thing for me is when sick patients recover and are discharged safely. I looked after a young lady with catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome postpartum and had multiorgan failure requiring ICU admission, an aortic balloon pump and dialysis. She self-discharged from ICU to be with her baby. I was able to convince her to come to rapid review clinic daily and get blood tests done. She remained stable and continued to improve, which was so very rewarding.
What do you see as the biggest challenge of juggling a career in medicine and motherhood?
Being a first-time mum has been a wonderful experience, but it’s been challenging trying to juggle career, research and motherhood. Becoming a parent, however, makes you realise what’s truly important and you learn to prioritise life accordingly. Time management and being organised have become my mantra! I also realise that I can’t do it all myself, and as the saying goes it takes a village to raise a child, I am blessed to have a supportive network of family and friends to share the journey.
Working full time with teenage daughters, and especially as a doctor, is challenging but enjoyable. Keeping a balance between doing my FRACP training, exams, and taking care of my children’s health, well-being and education can be hard, so I prioritise and rely on my time management skills. My children are teenagers now and that gives me the flexibility to work more, but I still feel the need to be around them to look after their health and education. When I am away working as a locum physician, my children are at home with my husband.
What inspired your decision to start locum work?
I wanted to take some time off and travel around Australia. I was lucky to be able to combine travel and medicine with locum work and have never looked back. Locum work has allowed me to experience some wonderful medicine in regional parts of Australia. In fact, I had my first introduction to end-stage kidney disease and Aboriginal health on a locum stint in Kalgoorlie, WA. Locum work also offers excellent exposure to acute settings in areas of limited resources, while providing great learning opportunities. And I get to travel and explore this wonderful country!
Flexibility is a big driver for me. Locum work gives me that flexibility. I get to work when I want and have free time when I need it for my master’s exams and assignments, and to spend time with family. We love outdoor activities, nature and water, so we go to the beach or camping, any time we get a chance.
How have your locum experiences with Wavelength helped to broaden your medical knowledge and experience?
Dr Lecamwasam: I love the wide choice of medical career opportunities that Wavelength has provided and find it especially useful to be updated on a daily basis about new prospects. The exposure and experiences in regional settings have been a real advantage when it comes to broadening my knowledge in medicine.
I’m grateful for the fact that I’ve been able to fit locum jobs around my lifestyle. Before my daughter was born, I was able to locum for longer periods of time, in various locations, but since then, I’m able to take up locums that are shorter in duration, and closer to home. This degree of flexibility was important for me to manage work and motherhood. Wavelength has been very supportive of this flexibility.
Dr Amer: I appreciate how the Wavelength team provides me with a variety of flexible opportunities, regular updates, and keep an open and friendly line of communication at all stages. I’ve found locum work has helped to deepen and broaden my knowledge and experience by looking after patients with various acute and complex medical conditions while working with a range of teams. I was surprised by the number of suitable locum roles available, and the accommodation and remuneration packages included. Personally, the flexibility of working when I wanted to and having free time for me when I need it has been important as both a mother and a doctor.
How would you describe your experience of working with the Wavelength team?
The Wavelength team has been efficient, courteous, and knowledgeable. My consultant, Claudine Zaarour, has been absolutely amazing, and she’s dedicated to ensuring the doctors have a good locum experience all round. Wavelength keeps me in the loop regarding job opportunities that fit with my timeframes. They’re great to work with and I’ve already recommended Wavelength to a colleague.
The Wavelength team is very supportive, friendly, and professional. They’re organised and arrange all the paperwork required for the job, along with travel and accommodation, well in advance. My recruitment consultant, Claudine, is amazing, helpful, and supportive. She takes the time to understand my needs, preferences and situation, and contacts me personally when a suitable role comes up. I would definitely recommend Wavelength to my colleagues.
Wishing all mothers and carers a very Happy Mother’s Day!
Are you a Doctor who is looking for more work-life balance in your medical career? Get in touch with our team to learn more about our current vacancies across all medical specialties, and how Wavelength can support you to find flexibility in your medical career.