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This month we feature gynaecology oncologist Dr. Tracey Sheridan Adams who is working in a government hospital in the western cape in South Africa. Join tracey as she shares her insights on what her speciality entails and her unique journey to new consultant.
Tracey:
I work in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. My qualifications include MBChB, FCOG (SA), MMED and a certificate in Gynaecological Oncology (SA 2012).Groote Schuur Hospital/ UCT – Cape Town, South Africa

1. What does your speciality/subspecialty entail?

I work in Gynaecology, in particular with women who have cancer of the female reproductive organ (cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal and vulval cancer). This includes surgery, chemotherapy if needed and follow-up of these women, Radiation treatment is offered by radiation oncologists but we follow up these women also. Palliative care is an important part of specialty as many women present with advanced disease or recurrence of the disease.

2. Why the choice of your particular subspecialty?

I have a passion for women and their health. This specialty allows me to work with and empower women as well play a part in their care. I also enjoy the surgical aspect of the specialty.

3.What is your opinion on the state of health care, especially tertiary health care in Africa at present? Any suggestions for the future?

In our setting in Cape Town, although we complain of certain limitations, I am fully aware of the differences in more rural parts of South Africa and other African countries. At our tertiary care center, run by the state government, I enjoy the academic opportunities and ability to provide relatively fair and evidence based treatment. There are however budget constraints which limit our choices.

The setting in many African nations is that the costs of care have to be borne by patients themselves and they are often unable to afford the recommended treatment. My suggestion is that our governments need to invest more in health care and education financially.

4. What are the biggest public health challenges you face in your speciality?

There is inadequate access to care at the primary level and as a consequence preventable disease such as cervical cancer still remains a significant burden of disease. Women do not get basic pap smears and health education and hence present with advanced disease.

5. What message(s) would you like to convey to the public?

My message would be more aimed towards governments to invest in good nursing and education at the primary level. We as the public need to start demanding these services from our governments.

6. What are your biggest challenges as a new consultant?

It would be balancing the service delivery/ workload and establishing yourself as a researcher/ academic.

7. What are the things you never had to think about but now find yourself dealing with?

I am more aware of role modeling to students and fellows. Also in terms of service delivery, making choices that are based on budgets and constraints.

8. How are you overcoming these challenges?

I am conscious of being mindful with regards to how I deal with students and colleagues especially when we differ in opinion.

9. What would you do differently in retrospect?

Nothing presently. I am happy with where I am and the time it took to get here.

10. What advice would you give residents/ clinicians starting out?

There is no rush. Make sure you do what you love. Often there is a rush to specialize. Live, enjoy and makes the choices you love.

11. A great day off work involves…..

Great day off work: hiking, traveling and spending time with my 5 year old twin girls.

12. Work-life balance…urban legend or possible?

Work, life, balance: it is a difficult concept but can be achieved. It all comes down to improved time management.

14. Which person…living or dead…would you most like to have dinner with and why?

My late dad: to say thank you for encouraging and believing in me.

14. Tracey, what is your philosophy in life?

If you want something, put the systems in place to make it happen!

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