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Getting Started



As spring approaches it has been a little bit of a reflective time for me. Often people have asked me ‘How did you get into what you do?’ and so I thought I’d tell you a little of that journey as well as some of the hiccoughs along the way.


Throughout medical school, I was fascinated with surgery. I always was drawn to the idea of using my hands as well as my head and had a huge amount of respect and admiration for the surgeons I encountered as a student. I had great grades in my medical school subjects but was also profoundly apprehensive about the notion of pursuing a surgical career as there was a big problem… I found myself either fainting or beginning to faint in almost every operation I attended! I wondered if I was

wired strongly enough to do the job! Fortunately, as graduation loomed, this issue seemed to fade away.


After graduation, I was interned at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney and remember my allocation to the neurosurgery unit. I was hooked. The patients were complex and amazing, the entire staff were inspiring and the unit seemed very loyal and cohesive. My work was valued and thus I worked harder and harder. I felt as though I had found my ‘home’. I returned later the next year and had a similar, fulfilling experience. The Department Head at the time encouraged me to consider it for a career and expressed his full support in my application to the College of Surgeons. I was so utterly grateful.

Unfortunately I had been commissioned in the Royal Australian Navy as a medical officer a number of years before and my application would have to wait whist I worked on active service.


I returned to Royal North Shore around four years later working in the neurosurgery department whilst completing basic surgical training. I fondly remember the advanced trainees I was working for and how they inspired me. I’m grateful now to count them as colleagues. My initial application for advanced training was rejected however I was successful the following year.


Towards the end of my training and after writing a doctorate thesis at The University of Sydney, I was allocated to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and met the most amazing mentor. His calm professionalism was truly something special and I was floored when he offered me a year-long subspecialist mentorship under his guidance. I jumped at the chance! Towards the end of that Fellowship, he again approached me and encouraged me to apply for his position as he was finally considering retirement. Should I be successful there was one condition… I must look after all of his paediatric patients. I was truly humbled that his confidence was given to me in this solemn task and felt truly special.


I have been in my current position going on 6 years and think of my mentor frequently. I hope that he is satisfied with the job I am doing of looking after his patients and aspire to be nearly as good.


How did I get here? Easy… I met inspiring people.

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© 2018 Sydney Paediatric Neurosurgeon.

Dr Adam Fowler

www.sydneypaediatricneurosurgeon.com.au

Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery
The Children’s Hospital at Westmead

Cnr Hainsworth St and Hawkesbury Rd, Westmead NSW 2145

Provider No. 223499AY

Tel  +61 2 9845 0000
Fax +61 2 9845 3489          

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Liverpool NSW

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