Dr Julie Hui

When I entered anaesthetics, a career in pain medicine never occurred to me.
I went to medical school attracted by the thought of becoming a psychiatrist, but an inspiring anaesthetic module as a Medical Student led me to undertake this as an elective in Western Samoa and after an enjoyable time on the high dependency unit as an Foundation doctor, the buzz of managing acutely unwell patients led me to chose this as a career.
It wasn’t until I commenced a Pain module within my anaesthetic training that I realised I had accidentally found my dream job! One which allowed me to feel the adrenaline rush that anaesthetics can provide whilst on other days as a pain physician, I enjoyed the challenge of being a diagnostician; having time to listen to and examine patients. Although not psychiatry, this paradigm of work fulfilled my expectations of what I imagined a career in medicine to be.
I found building a good rapport and showing belief in patients, giving valid explanations for symptoms and managing expectations fundamental to a productive consultation.
This can be very challenging and can not be done alone, but the discussion of complex patients with the multidisciplinary team is thought provoking and fundamental to making a realistic and collaborative treatment plan.
The satisfaction on acute pain rounds was immense. I remember putting an epidural into a lady with acute abdominal pain who was being treated conservatively for bowel obstruction. The epidural was successful in relieving her pain and bowel symptoms and she avoided a laparotomy.
I saw the success of interventions such as Coeliac Plexus Blocks in palliative patients with pancreatic cancer and how this gave them comfort and dignity towards the end of life.
Interventions allow me to apply knowledge of anatomy, needle handling and pharmacology learnt in anaesthetics and use this in a different capacity. Not to mention the excitement common to anaesthetists of using new equipment together with Xray and ultrasound guidance techniques to perform interventions.
I look forward to my advanced pain training fellowship in Canada this year, exploring their approach to chronic pain and developing my skills to set me in good stead for a lifelong career in pain medicine.