AOA's Orthopaedic parents


It’s common to hear that the demands of a surgical specialist career conflict with that of being a parent.

AOA’s #OrthopaedicParents demonstrate that parenthood can not only co-exist with surgical success in training and practice, but can also provide skills and lessons that benefit clinical performance, patient interaction and professional satisfaction.

We’ve asked a few of them to share some of the lessons they’ve learned from each of these worlds. 

Those considering a career in orthopaedics, or those that have any questions related to the orthopaedic profession, are invited to email Orthopaedic Women's Link at:

What is the most important piece of advice you have for those who are pursuing a career in surgery and also want to start a family?

Lynette Reece_AOA_040Pictured with Dr Nicole Williams and Dr Samya Lakis

Lynette Reece – NSW OWL Representative

“The most important advice: Choose to do what you love. If you love it although there may be struggles, it will feel worth it as you progress through your journey.”


Dr. Angela HatfieldIMG_9219

Angela Hatfield – NSW OWL member

“I think that you can have everything just not all at once.  There will be times when your career is more important, and times when your family is. We all make compromises, and that’s ok. Make your peace with setting boundaries.  The better the boundaries the better you will be at being yourself. You can’t be everything to everybody every day.


Planning, planning, planning. Think about how and whether you want to have children during training or afterwards. I chose to delay it because I was personally more comfortable having some time off when I didn’t feel like I was affecting colleagues. I had fertility tests as well, which meant I knew whether there would be difficulty getting pregnant. This was calculated and unromantic, but important for me to feel like I was taking as much control as I could over the situation.”

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Chris Morrey – QLD, General Director

“Make sure you give yourself time to spend with your kids and partner when they are young. I sued to take the kids to school in the mornings, and two mornings a week we would all go out to breakfast together (phones were banned).”


What do you think is the biggest challenge you face by being a parent and orthopaedic surgeon?


Nicole Williams Orthopaedic Parents

Nicole Williams – SA/NT OWL Representative 

“You are juggling two completely unpredictable entities – patients and children. I’ll be in the middle of sorting the most complex patient I’ve had all year when I get a call from school to say my daughter’s sick. You’re always to-ing and fro-ing while trying to make your children and patients/colleagues feel that you’re there for them. It requires good helpers at home and at work to allow you to spread your time between both.” 

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Katherine Stannage – WA OWL Representative 

“The kindergarten and pre-school days were the hardest. I never did canteen duty, or cut up fruit for kindergarten. Working as a surgeon meant it was hard to engage with the local school community and create community friendships.”



Chris Kondogiannis – Chair of Education and Training

“Time management. Being able to do the little things like preparing school lunches, drop off and pick up, to making sure you don’t miss milestone moments. Quarantine regular time specifically for routine family duties. Ask for cover for important milestones that should not be missed and be prepared to reciprocate for colleagues when they need.”


Andrew Wines

Andrew Wines – NSW Branch Chair

“Be prepared to juggle several different issues and problems at once. Never be afraid to ask for help and get help when and where it’s needed. You and your partner are in it together and need to work together."


What has parenthood taught you about the operating room? 

Alice Chang-OrthopaedicParents

Alice Chang – NSW OWL member

“It taught me how to be calm and patient. It taught me how to better sympathise with my paediatric patients from the point of view of their parents. It taught me how to communicate better with children and their parents.”


Peter Choong – past AOA president

“Parenthood taught me the responsibility of setting boundaries, which was also applicable at work. Being head of department taught me the importance of listening to every voice, and compromises to reach consensus, unifying through shared values and goals - equally appropriate at home.”

Jessamy Ward cropped 2

Jessamy Ward – NSW OWL member

"Having children has definitely made me a better doctor and surgeon. I value my time more and find myself far more organised. When every day spent at work is a day spent away from my two boys, I find I'm more productive and efficient. Becoming a parent has also made me a stronger advocate for myself and given me the confidence to speak up. These are all skills vital to running a successful theatre list.” 

What’s the best part about being both a parent and an orthopaedic surgeon?

Jenny Green_AOA_027JAGedit_cropped

Jennifer Green – OWL Committee Chair

“The best part about being both a parent and an orthopaedic surgeon is that my children are growing up to be strong independent women who know that they can do anything that they set their mind to.” 
Ruth Varrall

Ruth Varrall – Prospective OWL member

“The best part of being both a parent and an orthopaedic surgeon is that life is really fun. I absolutely love being a mother and having adventures with my children, but also love being able to go to work and improve people’s lives with surgery. The satisfaction I get from both means that I wouldn’t change it for the world!”