Fiona Woods
Australia’s most trusted burns surgeon

As you get further and further along the (medical career) track, you realise that we are not infallible. And certainly in a trauma situation, because that’s where I work, some days the trauma is overwhelming, and survival is impossible.


The biggest challenge I have had is dealing with the whole response to the 2002 Bali Bombings. And it was more than just treating the patients and the volume of work. It was coordinating a whole lot of work in the background. There are challenges that relate to people and the people outcomes and people caring for people, that are far more than just yourself.

If you are taking a mindset that you are going to be overwhelmed, then you probably are going to be. If you take the attitude that this is something that I want to take on, and I want to contribute to, and I want to give my energy to, then you’re going to achieve a positive outcome. The outcome may be small, it may be large, but it will be of significance to somebody at some point and to yourself.


I was a medical student at St Thomas’ Hospital. I was able to help in some of the research Bryan Mayou - a plastic surgeon - did in those early days, and then I worked with him as a junior doctor. He was very supportive in the environment, at the time, when female surgeons weren’t a thing. To have somebody supporting you and recognising that you’re prepared to work hard to achieve your goal is very important. He was certainly an inspiration in my early stages in the UK.


I feel very strongly that all of the medical students - all of us - have had the opportunity of an education and training that is a privilege. That training is a waste unless we practice. We practice for the benefit of others - not for the benefit of ourselves. It comes with it responsibilities: the responsibility to add to the body of knowledge, and the responsibility to bring our A-game to the table. I don’t believe that near enough is good enough; I don’t believe in average. I believe in bringing your A-game to the table.

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