Dr Ranjana Srivastava is a well-decorated oncologist that also holds numerous accolades, including TIME Magazine’s Top 50 most influential people of 2015 winner, recipient of the Order of Australia, and award-winning author for The Guardian. As a medical student, she enjoyed most fields, but ruled out obstetrics when she “almost dropped a baby”, and surgery when she fainted in theatre! It was a rural rotation in oncology where she saw the calming influence her consultants had on patients that she decided to pursue this field.

She has also kept up her writing and journaling which she began at age 5, which has led to her writing for the Lancet (as a medical student no less!), Penguin, The Age and now The Guardian. Her focuses include society and ethics, especially on issues she thinks it is “important for the public to know” about. Dr Srivastava encourages students and doctors alike to read medical journalism exposes. These include JAMA’s “A piece of my mind”, NEJM’s “Human Encounters in Medicine”, and the Journal of Clinical Oncology’s “Art of Medicine”.  writing to inform patients and/or doctors. e.g. role of interpreters.

Her typical week involves a mixture between clinical work and authoring. Listen in to discover how she deals with the emotional burden of discussing prognoses, terminal illnesses and chemotherapy on a daily basis to patients and families. While she finds it incredibly rewarding to help patients, managing their expectations and breaking harsh truths to them can be tough. Moreover, the specialty is “bounding along at an unprecendented pace”. This makes keeping up to date inrcredibly difficult, especially with patients consulting the internet for novel regiment. In future, she sees treatments being targeted to patients.

There is no “magic solution” to maintaining a work-life balance, but Ranjana gives us some aspects we should prioritise. Increasingly, clinicians can choose their own hours and draw boundaries from an early age. She encourages students to spend extended periods of time following consultants to learn what each specialty is like. The initial “glitter and glamour” can fade away unless one truly enjoys what they are doing. At the end of the day, Ranjana stresses the importance of being “present” in each consultation, since we “may never see that patient again”.

If you have any other questions you’d like us to ask Dr Ranjana Srivastava, fill out the form below or shoot us a message!

Pathways into Oncology

Medical School → Internship → HMO → Basic Physicians Training (3 years full-time equivalent) → Advance Physicians Training in Oncology (3 years full-time equivalent)

Source: Royal Australian College of Physicians


According to the Australian Government Taxation Data, in the 2013-14 income year we had approximately:

  • 145 female oncologists earning an average of $208,612
  • 200 male oncologists earning an average of $322,178
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TMC035: Oncology with Dr Ranjana Srivastava
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