A Small Drop in the Ocean

This time last week I was standing in a packed but silent room in South Brisbane, one of many in an audience completely enthralled by the storytelling of the invited speaker. The ever-magnificent (but of course, she prefers the title “ordinary”) Dr Shahina Braganza opened the evening by reflecting on the course of her career thus far; the chance events, the challenges and the lessons she has learned along the way. She kept insisting that she was nothing special, just a small drop in the ocean when compared to others, who make much larger waves in their field. Each time she said something to this effect, a fluttering of grins spread through the crowd because we all know what we all know… and Dr Braganza is in no way a ‘small drop’. 


Recounting shared moments like this can only begin to give you a glimpse of the atmosphere of that evening and the collective vibe of the group. There was a buzz of excitement to be at the very first event, but also a deeper sense of being part of something so much bigger than the sum of its parts. It was such a weird feeling to stand in a room with so many people I admire for such a diverse range of reasons. Looking around, I realised that many people there had been instrumental in shaping my career up until this point - whether they realised it or not! Though I did feel a little underqualified to be there, I couldn’t imagine a group I would hope to be included in more than this one. 


Dr Braganza spoke about the twists and turns of her career in emergency medicine, the many crossroads she found herself at, and the tough decisions that were not always hers to make. I think that resonated with a lot of people, regardless of where they were at in their career journey. As a junior doctor very much at the beginning of mine, this sentiment was both inspiring and comforting. Certainly, out of the people I know in emergency medicine, everyone has a different role or special interest that makes their job unique. Many of them didn’t set out with a plan in mind, but instead their pathway evolved over time. The strength of any group arises from the diversity of its members, and this is by no means a homogenous group. My wish for future events is to see more juniors and more attendees from non-ED backgrounds- who spend much of their time downstairs anyway!  


Medicine can be an isolating and lonely place at times, full of challenges and setbacks, with no way of telling what might be around the next corner. I guess a lot of those reasons are why many of us picked this career in the first place, but nobody can do it alone. That is why networks like this are so important. They sketch out the framework from which strong partnerships, professional relationships and friendships are built. They also form the safety net that catches us when we need it most. I count myself very lucky to have been able to stand in that room with so many remarkable women on the night of the very first meeting. I definitely felt like a very small drop in a very big ocean, but I guess it’s when we come together that we make the biggest waves. 

a deeper sense of being part of something so much bigger than the sum of its parts
Helen Rhodes