This Daffodil day, we put the spotlight on one Medical Oncologist
The Daffodil Day Appeal is Cancer Council’s most iconic and much-loved fundraising campaign where Australians come together and donate to help stop cancer.
Nearly 150,000 Australians are diagnosed with cancer every year and the Daffodil Day Appeal aims to raise funds for life-saving cancer research.
On the front line, we have the pleasure to work with some of the country’s finest and most experienced Oncologists. Dr Ramya Venkateswaran, a medical oncologist in private practice in Sydney, kindly took the time to speak with us about why she chose to work in Oncology and the experiences she has had as a locum doctor with Wavelength.
What was the inspiration behind your decision to become an Oncologist?
When I commenced my medical degree, not many effective treatments were available to oncologists. It was a ‘young’ emerging field with interesting prospects. It encompassed several aspects of patient care including physical, psychological and emotional challenges. As a physician, it also incorporates general medicine and requires a vast breadth of knowledge across many systems.
“From a field that had few options for treatment a few decades ago, it has become an exciting specialty with the potential and the ability for cure!” – Dr Ramya Venkateswaran
Tell us about a typical working week as a Locum Oncologist...
Predominantly my week is spent in outpatient based care, which includes clinics and supervising chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments 3-4 days per week. I also see inpatients admitted under my care in hospital. Additionally, I am involved in online education updates and Journal clubs to keep up to date with the current treatments in Oncology. I also enjoy teaching our registrars and have spent some time as an academic oncologist.
Due to COVID-19, we have had some changes including 3-4 hours of online multidisciplinary team meetings and I also run Telehealth consults with patients via phone or video linkup portals.
What appeals to you most about working in Oncology?
It’s an exciting specialty to work in, with constantly evolving data coming through from research and new management patterns to develop and institute into clinical practice. The advent of immunotherapy and targeted therapies has been a paradigm change in the management of many tumours.
What is the most rewarding experience you have had during your medical career?
I met a young woman, 30 years old, with newly diagnosed widespread breast cancer who was incredibly unwell but was caring for her young child who was also admitted to hospital. After many consultations and emphasising the need for urgent treatment for herself, she finally agreed to only four weeks of treatment. It was incredibly rewarding watching her improve rapidly and progressively to a point where she cooked a feast for her child and ventured out shopping for two hours – both acts which we take for granted – were a God-send for her compared to few months earlier! It is these milestones that I find so rewarding.
“Sharing these moments of sheer joy enables me to draw inspiration from working as an Oncologist and instills in me the tenacity to confront the challenges I see day to day.” – Dr Ramya Venkateswaran
How do you compare yourself now as a mature Doctor to when you first started your career?
Every patient teaches you something new. As an experienced oncologist, the main 'words of wisdom' are that you and the patient are on the journey for the long haul. It is the most remarkable paradigm shift in oncology - from a field that had few options for treatment, it has become an exciting specialty with the potential and the ability for cure!
Why did you decide to Locum? And what are the specific benefits to you?
Locum work, especially in rural clinics, is very satisfying. It encompasses general oncology care across a wide variety of tumor types, offers the flexibility to choose the duration of work and provides the opportunity to travel! The only disadvantage of working as a locum doctor is the lack of continuity – the inability to see patients over a longer time period, but most are very grateful and appreciative of the care that is being provided.
Tell us about some of the adventures that you have had during locum contracts?
There are all kinds of adventures to be had - meeting the 'locals' at each new location, soaking up the culture and playing 'tourist' are fantastic experiences. My camera comes with me to my locum rural clinics and I enjoy having a reminder of the images and vibes of each place I visit.
Thank you very much to Dr Venkateswaran, for taking the time to speak with us.
“Research is vital to saving lives. The Daffodil Day Appeal will help fund some of the brightest researchers in the country who are dedicated to discovering the next cancer breakthroughs.” - Daffodil Day
Each year Wavelength hosts an internal bake sale for Cancer Council fundraising, but with 2020 looking rather different this time around, instead we are donating directly to the Daffodil Day Appeal.