This article was originally written by the Northern Sydney Local Health District.
It was a few special patients doctors Alice Ma and Keryn Davidson met during their years of medical training that inspired them to pursue a career in neurosurgery.
Alice, an interventional neurologist, and Keryn, a neurosurgeon, recently joined the team at Royal North Shore Hospital – both referring to their new roles as a ‘full circle’ after completing some of their registrar training at the hospital years prior.
During their training years, both Alice and Keryn realised the huge difference they could make in people’s lives.
When Alice was an intern at a regional hospital, she had a young patient suffering an acute stroke.
“He was airlifted to Royal North Shore Hospital and received acute stroke treatment, making a full recovery,” she said.
“For me that case has always inspired me because of the great difference the treatment made to his life – and it’s a privilege to now be part of the same neurointerventional team.”
With a sub-specialty in cerebrovascular neurosurgery, Keryn is the first female neurosurgeon to join the team of seven at RNSH.
Being such an integral part of each of her patients’ care keeps Keryn going and inspires her every day.
“It is such a privilege to follow complex patients along their journey and help them get better,” she said.
Alice and Keryn agree it is the support from their teams that allow them to provide the best care in the more stressful and time critical situations.
“You get comfortable with being uncomfortable – and that does take a while to get used to,” Keryn said.
“I’ve had strong mentors and support networks along the way including those who I can decompress with after the more difficult days and that’s really important.”
While managing the challenges of heavy case loads, complex cases, technical skills and the physical stamina required from the job, it is the rewarding nature of care that drives Alice every day.
“Neuro intervention makes a real difference to our patients,” she said.
“The neurointerventional team’s culture is fantastic and that is reflective of the amazing mentorship, support and guidance.”
Keryn thrives on the challenge of managing stressful situations quickly and the variety of patients she sees day-to-day – from those with brain tumours, haemorrhages from trauma or spinal problems.
“I’m excited to be part of the team – I’m really grateful and proud to lead the way for young women who want to be neurosurgeons Dr Alice Ma because it’s an amazing job,” Keryn said.