Dr Chris Brasher is an anaesthetics consultant who has worked extensively for Medicines Sans Frontieres (MSF). He was inspired by the calmness of anaesthetists in “coping with” and “fixing” chaotic situations. After training as a junior doctor in Melbourne, Chris flew over to the UK to complete his training out of “fear of boredom”, wanting to broaden his view of the world. This led to his involvement with MSF.
Chris has worked mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa and extensively in war-torn Rwanda, after the genocide. He tells many fascinating stories about the colleagues and patients he met (no spoilers here!). This includes dealing with issues rarely seen in metropolitan Australia, such as gunshot trauma, malnutrition, and tropical diseases. He described how he was able to adapt to the vastly different working conditions and available resources. Dealing with the sudden death of patients, interpersonal conflicts with staff and fear of physical safety were everpresent difficulties on the 30 missions he undertook over 9 years, not to mention the social isolation of being apart from family and friends.
Eventually, Chris’ cumulative burn out and overload of “chaos” led him to return to Melbourne. However, he has found it difficult to transition back into the “comfortable” life back home. It is somewhat “alienating” having so many experiences that are difficult to share. However, his experiences have improved his problem solving skills and ability to remain calm under pressure, as well as aiding him to deal with the reality of death.
Chris offers a few ways in which students and doctors can prepare themselves for volunteering overseas. He lists a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when it comes to considering and applying to work in this field.
We hope you guys enjoy this podcast! Feel free to send through any questions you may have for Dr Chris Brasher, and give us feedback on this week’s episode by filling out the survey.
Pathways into Anaesthetics:
Medical School → Internship (1 year) → HMO 1 (1 year) → Anaesthetics training (5 years) → Consultant
Get involved with MSF here
According to the Australian Government Taxation Data, in the 2013-14 income year we had approximately:
- 945 female anaesthetists earning an average of $243,582
- 2160 male anaesthetists earning an average of $370,492
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