Beth Russ remembers that when everyone at high school was being asked what they wanted to be, she always said she wanted to be a doctor.
“Mum was a nurse – I grew up with role models in caring professions,” says Beth.
“Coming up in a family environment with someone in a caregiver role just drew me to health… medicine was the right thing for me.”
But while Beth found it easy to do well at school, studying to become a doctor was never easy. That was, until she tried her hand at obstetrics.
“I was always someone who had to work hard to get the grades at university, but when I did my obstetrics rotation I didn’t have to work hard… It just clicked, the natural physiology of how the female body worked through pregnancy and childbirth as well as through the different stages of a woman’s life just made sense. Anyone can learn it, but there are some people that just get it and I feel I’m one of those people. Midwives are another example of that.”
After completing six years of specialist training and consulting as an obstetrician and gynaecologist for a further 12 years, Beth still loves her job.
“My absolute favourite part is delivering the baby, (and also) watching the father or partner when they see their first baby born. You don’t see that look at any other point in a man’s life. There are very few men that don’t cry.”
Beth also feels incredibly privileged to be able to work with women and develop relationships that span many years.
“One of the most amazing things is that you get to look after women over one, two, three, four children. I have patients who start seeing me as a gynaecologist in their teens and then get married and see me for the births of their children.
“You become a part of their world at a very important time of their lives – there aren’t many other jobs where you get to do that.”
Beth believes obstetricians need to have both good technical ability and empathy to be effective in their role.
“You can be the most caring person in the world, but you also need the technical skills to manage all types of births.
“You also have to stay calm and relaxed in the face of chaos… You have to be like a duck – everything is calm on the surface but there is a lot going on underneath.”
After working at other hospitals, Beth now exclusively consults at North Eastern Community Hospital.
“North Eastern is second-to-none when it comes to providing obstetrics and maternity care. The staff are amazing – the midwifes, reception, theatre staff. The thing I love is that it’s family orientated. It’s holistic family care. Most of the midwives who work at NECH have had their own babies there, or their daughters have had their babies there. There are even some midwives who chose to do midwifery after the incredible experience they had whilst being a patient at the hospital.
“The difference is the level of care and compassion from the staff and doctors that work there. I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.”