What I love about orthopaedics

AOA is celebrating and profiling many of AOA's female members, who make a significant difference to Australian orthopaedics.

We've asked these surgeons to share their thoughts on the theme: 'What I love about orthopaedics', and have shared them below to provide insight into an orthopaedic career and inspire the next generation of women in orthopaedics.

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: owl@aoa.org.au

Jennifer Green_Resize

Dr Jennifer Green – ACT

OWL Committee Chair

Dr Jennifer Green

"Orthopaedic surgery is a rewarding team sport. Leadership and collaboration are our everyday tools: in our operating theatre teams; our clinic teams; our ward teams of nurses, occupational therapists and physiotherapists; our medical student, junior doctor and trainee teams; and our networks of colleagues around Australia and the world. There are many intellectual challenges and technical challenges. Emotional intelligence and empathy are required daily to understand each patient’s unique circumstances in treatment decisions and to support them through the rehabilitation process. Orthopaedic surgery is a dynamic field, constantly evolving and full of exciting innovation. Few professions can have such a profound impact on a person’s quality of life."

Meenu Shunmugam_Resize

Dr Meenu Shunmugam – SA

OWL Committee Registrar Representative

Dr Meenu Shunmugam

"I love being in theatre and trying to figure something out like a jigsaw puzzle, and seeing it all come together in the end.

I love working with senior surgeons and mentors, who always inspire me with their patience to teach me, and correct me.

I love learning and growing from a 'bad day' at work; from my mistakes and complications, because it will happen.

I love creating a rapport with patients, and I am constantly awed at how much of trust they put in us. That in turn inspires me to work harder."

Kate Stannage

Dr Katherine Stannage – WA

APOS President
WA OWL Committee Representative

Dr Katherine Stannage

"Why orthopaedics? It appeals to the more childish side of me…the need for instant gratification. If it’s broken, I can fix it. But it also allows me to explore the more personal side of medicine. I love the relationships I build with the families of children with neuromuscular disorders. I cannot express the gratitude I feel towards them for entrusting the care of their child to me and my team. And my profession is universal. I have worked in the Solomon Islands, Madagascar, Ethiopia and Somaliland. The question should not be “why”…but “why not”!"


Sarah Coll

Dr Sarah Coll – QLD

Dr Sarah Coll

"Let me count the ways!

1. I get to fix people - when they are broken, when the worst thing that could have happened to them, happens. They have car crashes, get assaulted, their children break limbs and I am there to see them through the process and guide their recovery.

2. I get to be in charge - unusual for a woman. I run a theatre the way I like to and I run my private practice in my own unique, personal way.

3. I have time for my family - the income rate is high enough that I can spend quality time with my kids and bring up well adjusted and confident contributors to their community.

4. I am constantly stimulated - I am able to do a vast array of procedures, more so than any other profession and I am fully qualified to do all of them!

5. I am respected - when a board wants someone to tell someone the truth or deal directly with a problem - they turn to me. This is not always welcome, but I understand that my directness is useful to them

6. I meet 600 new and mostly interesting people per year and operate on 300 of them. This is a wonderful way to get to know my community and to participate in the world outside my theatre.

That's all for now."

Rachel Blackshaw

Dr Rachel Blackshaw – VIC

Dr Rachel Blackshaw

"It is a tactile experience. We get to work with our hands and with people. We “fix” people, they get better and we have relatively well patients.

It makes sense, the basic structure of the skeleton, individual bones and muscles.  The beauty of ligaments and tendons and the way things just “work” together.

It encompasses a wide range of pathologies and treatments. From the “simplicity” of setting bones to the ingenuity and technicality of prosthesis, navigation and robotics. The elegance of hand surgery to the medieval traction table, from loops to mallets.

As a student, I felt like I found “my people” in orthopaedics, from the theatre team, clinic and ward nurses and fabulous surgeon mentors who encouraged me and engaged me with their enthusiasm.  This continues today with the collegiality and the “ethos” of giving back to public service and to training the next registrars."

Sindy Vrancic

Dr Sindy Vrancic – ACT

Southside NSW Regional Training Committee Chair
NSW/ACT OWL Branch Rep

Dr Sindy Vrancic

"I love the unique sensory experiences in my usual day in orthopaedics

The “crack” of a successful closed reduction

The feel of wet plaster under my hands, and the warmth of the plaster as it sets smooth

The pitch change when drilling through cortical bone

The joy of watching “bone juice” extrude from an anatomically reduced fracture

The “blush” in a limb when the tourniquet is released

The unique smell of bone cement curing

Watching movement be restored to a joint at the end of a case

The hug from a grateful patient or their loved ones."

Anita Boecksteiner

Dr Anita Boecksteiner – VIC

Dr Anita Boecksteiner

"Orthopaedic surgery has allowed me to use my love of anatomy, of teaching and of helping people to forge a career that is challenging, stimulating, interesting, rewarding and always changing."


Samya Lakis

Dr Samya Lakis – NSW

Spinal and Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon

Dr Samya Lakis

"Why? Well it really is medicine with a twist!

We have the opportunity to operate and help heal our patients; with a better outcome than they may have otherwise had. Orthopaedics is a bit of problem solving, but at the end of the day it’s hands on (with or without power tools). The technical aspect of fine motor, mechanical concepts and 3D visualisation is great fun and challenging, so the work is really interesting. There is the opportunity for both bread and butter, and some head-scratching complexities (and any headache gets shared by the team).

Why wouldn’t you want to?" 

Linda Ferris

Linda Ferris – SA

Dr Linda Ferris

"I love the feeling of taking something bent, broken or not functioning properly and fixing it to the benefit of my patient within the context of providing a collaborative service to the patient based on my statement to them that ‘my job is to tell you the problem and the options and your job is to decide what you want to do about it’ after that my job continues with ongoing advice and treatment."