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Our first interviewee is Odysseus, a founding member of doc2doc, and has a platinum badge, having amassed 2365 forum posts and counting!
doc2doc interviews... Odysseus
What made you want to be a doctor?
At grammar school I had thoughts about joining the army, doing law and doing medicine. I loved languages and biology. I believe there was a sense of inner vocational calling which led me to do medicine. It may sound corny but I felt akin to a man called by God to enter the priesthood. I joined the Army Reserve, served with the UN in East Timor, did medicolegal work, and wrote an autobiography of childhood.
Why did you choose your specialty?
I always knew I wanted to be an internal physician. I was planning on doing neurology and was offered the job by my professor in Melbourne. I had a tension pneumothorax one day on a ward round while doing a thoracic rotation. The rest is history. I ended up a thoracic physician and later a sleep physician as well with a passion for sarcoidosis and sleep which has lots of neurology.
What’s the most interesting thing about your speciality/job?
I like the diversity of medicine in thoracic and sleep which encompasses almost all aspects of the human condition and including occupational medicine. I enjoy the psychiatric component of medicine and find sleep and thoracic interesting combinations. Sarcoidosis demands a generalist with an eye for detail which I have. I like being holistic.
What has been your best moment in medicine?
It is hard to choose a best moment. Was it being awarded University medal or a Ph.D or passing one's physicians exams after enormous pressure akin to an Olympic challenge? These accolades soon fade. I think it was the day I started medicine as a medical student. The die had been cast.
And your worst?
I think it was failing my first viva voce in my FRACP examinations which were held soon after my discharge from hospital with a tension pneumothorax. I was debilitated emotionally and physically and had never failed anything in my life. We only had two attempts at the viva before being excluded from the training program. I passed the second viva. Failing is so hard for those who "never fail".
What advice would you give prospective doctors?
Never lose your vision or sense of purpose in this long and gruelling discipline. It is so easy to give up or to sell yourself short. There are so many hurdles in the race and one of the biggest ones is your own self doubt. Do not invest all your energy in your lover, Medicine for she will forsake you for another. Leave something for yourself and for those whom you love.
What’s been your favourite doc2doc discussion of all time?
It is hard to think of a particular discussion. However, I like discussions where there is a diversity of views, respect for one another and the willingness to enlarge ones perspective and even change one's point of view viz. the one on religion. I learn a lot from the diverse talents of the group and their ethnic backgrounds. We sometimes assume that everyone is as free as I to talk one's mind.
What do you do when you are not being a doctor?
I enjoy history and French, learning Greek and sailing. I love words and language. I feel compelled to write something almost every day. This site has been a creative outlet and I enjoy going to it as television is generally so dismal. I have a property up in the hills; a lovely place to recharge batteries and strengthen me for my descent from my Mount of Olives to Middle Earth and the World of Men. Sailing does the same and is a great leveller.