This year we have had over 95 people contributing to onthewards, which has included doctors, nursing and allied health professionals – with representation from every state across Australia.

In our penultimate onthewards offering of the year we’ve asked some of our contributors to tell us about their highs and lows of 2017.

One of the consistent themes we’ve heard is that their community – whether that be at work, online, at home or through hobbies and sports – was a key support that helped them get through each shift, each week, and the whole year.

We hope these reflections resonate with you and invite you to tell us about your highs and lows of the 2017 on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments box at the bottom of the page. 

Use the hashtag #FOAMotw and we’ll spread your words as far as we can!



My high, was definitely realising that life is too short to spend it worrying about work and that being happy is far more important than being successful. – Lauren Jones


My high – The wonderful response that Grace Under Pressure received, with one reviewer writing ‘Grace Under Pressure is greeted with passionate enthusiasm by its audience who have been amused, informed and moved. It is a work with a clear sense of social purpose, complexly enriched with the observations of those who are responsible for us in hospitals and whose own lives are subject to often inordinate pressures. We need to care for them.’ My lows – Probably the publication of reports and data that demonstrate how widespread workplace mistreatment is in healthcare and how high suicide rates are especially for female doctors.  Suicide by health professionals:  a retrospective mortality study in Australia, 2001 – 2012Claire Hooker


High – Sitting with my partner and son, watching marriage equality pass the parliament, bringing to an end 13 years of discrimination against our family and closing a very ugly chapter in our political life.  Low –  The hatred and vitriol unleashed by the postal survey against our community and against me personally. Some of the things I heard said will take a long time to fade. – Amy Coopes


Highs from 2017 – The explosion of interest around health technology and data – whole new fields are being born.  Realising how amazing the Aussie healthcare system is after living in the US. – Martin Seneviratne


The highs of my year – Personally, learning to love the gym and surviving a 4 day Tasmanian trek! Professionally, enjoying mentoring the registrars and younger doctors in the practice, and learning alot from them along the way. – Kate George


Greatest high was seeing the beginning of my family – watching my wife become the generous caring mother that she is, and having my daughter sparkling in my life daily.  Against that, the lows are molehills.  – Thomas Finn


High – Celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary knowing my gay and lesbian friends will finally be able to have wedding anniversaries, too.  Low – Getting frustrated watching politicians seeking to bring out the worst in us, rather than the best, and watching my country commit acts of inhumanity on Manus Island. #bringthemhere – Amanda Walker


My high would be talking to 2,500 people in a giant circus tent at DasSMACC about difficult conversations in critical care and what we can learn from simulation debriefing. Also all the epiphany moments with learners when you realise the penny has dropped and your teaching strategy is working. – Jon Gatward


The fact is LGBTI people are still five times more likely to commit suicide in Australia is the basis of both my high point and low point for 2017. Who can go past the yes vote as a high that we will remember for years to come. Can you remember where you were when you heard the news? I was delighted to hear, finally, that Australians value the love between parents and their love for their children no matter what gender the parents are. That is a huge bonus for the health of the children and families that I care for.  But. Remember the ones who didn’t make it. Remember the years of bullying and lack of social acceptance that led many LGBTI people to make decisions that meant they were not here to celebrate with us. And frankly, although I’m proud to say that Australia is now a place where marriage is about love, I’m not at all proud that is took us so long to get there. We have moved to a better place, and let’s celebrate that, but let’s never forget those who have gone before. – Sarah Dalton


High – My high for the year was finishing medical school and honours after 8 years of undergraduate and postgraduate study. Moving to Wagga Wagga was fantastic, so much so I am working as a junior doctor there for internship and residency!  Lows – none I was incredibly well supported as a rural medical student! #gorural – Dennis Neuen


My highest high was receiving feedback from a parent via their consultant with thanks for making her son’s blood test more pleasant than usual – it is lovely but unfortunately seldom that junior doctors get to hear their positive feedback first hand. My lowest low was probably doing night shift at 35 weeks pregnant – but such a distant memory now! – Talila Milroy


Highs and lows – A junior registrar is not listening to advice to raise their left hand higher while operating, but the patient (who is being operated on under local anaesthetic) is listening and you notice he has been holding his left arm straight up in air for 10 mins.  Highs and highs – taking time out with colleagues to celebrate successes! – Joanna Dargan


Absolute high – Finding myself in an ED team that feels like family; no matter the shift we grit our teeth and get through with smiles.   Learning moment – Secondary survey for the win! I came on shift to a young road accident patient, transferred to a cubical due to an inundated resuscitation area. I was able to complete a very thorough head-to-toe secondary survey, and in doing so discovering an otherwise undetected (albeit small, and slowly developing) pneumothorax. Felt the subcutaneous emphysema to boot! Subsequent trajectory of care included transfer to a major trauma centre, instead of routine ward admission. For me, this was a moment which cemented the importance of the basics at shift-change. – Amelia Smyth


My high for the year was finally being able to put all my knowledge from medical school to practice and be a valued member of the JMO team. My best moments were when I was challenged at work and easily overcame problems that would have terrified me at the start of the year. – Alexandra Bolger


2017 marks my first year contributing to onthewards and I’ve had a blast! My biggest high for this year was welcoming our sweet baby girl into the world in September. It was a tough year balancing work, a toddler and a difficult pregnancy while being away from home. Phew, we made it. I’m looking forward to continuing the wild crazy ride of motherhood and medicine in 2018. – Leena O’Brien


High – The mentoring and support I’ve had through my studies has been invaluable, and so it was a highlight this year that I had the opportunity to pass this on through teaching and mentoring junior medical students. – Elise (Lise) Kempler


High of the year – my high was getting through the year! First year of advanced training had a steep learning curve and interestingly managing outpatients requires a different skill set to managing inpatients.  Also, there is a lot of reading in medical oncology and there is much more to it than tamoxifen and palliative care.  Learning about medical oncology has been enjoyable, the work has been enjoyable and although tough at times I’m looking forward to next year. – Abhi Pal


2017 has been a year of highs, ‘scaries’ and mostly sleep deprivation!  I have spent most of this year on maternity leave with my beautiful baby, been through the hair-greying stress of moving my whole city-based family to the countryside, and the scariness of returning to work as a junior consultant after a year off.  But having an awesome department to work in and a supportive family is key. – Janice Yeung


A high for me this year has been balancing the different roles of a medical registrar – supporting JMO development and learning, advocating for patient care and trying to fit in some study on the side! It has been a steep but very enjoyable learning curve. – Antonia Clarke


Thank you to all our contributors in 2017

Abhi Pal, Sarah Dalton, Alex Bolger, James Edwards, Evangelie Polyzos, Anthony Llewellyn, Jeff Duncan, Bethan Richards, Alan Giles, Amelia Smyth, Amy Coopes, Anastasia Volovets, Anthony Anderson, Belinda Robertson, Antonia Clarke, Amanda Walker, Bridget Johnson, Nhi Nguyen, Dennis Neuen, Bruce Way, Chris Dalton, Chris Elliot, Claire Fotheringham, Claire Hooker, Claudia Hurwitz, Claudia Woolf, Cynthia Yang, Linda Wu, Nick Malouf, David Caldicott, Jules Catt, Duncan Campbell, Shannon Thomas, Elise Buisson, Elise Kempler, Emily Nash, Jenny Liu, Paul Hamor, Joanna Dargan, Gavin Andrews, Georgie Haysom, Hannah Turton, Indy Sandaradura, Janice Yeung, Jemma Hogan, Jennifer Lim, Catherine George, Tim Suharto, Jessica Tidswell, Jessica Dean, Joel Hardman, John Sammut, Jon Gatward, Josh Inglis, Marina Davis, Elizabeth Campbell, Tom Finn, Katrina Pavic, Ken Liu, Klint Goers, Lauren Jones, Leena O’Brien, Elizabeth Green, Louise Teo, Anthony Linton, Eamon Merrick, Elie Matar, Mark Graber, Mark Latt, Katherine Spira, Martin Seneviratne, Nathan Mortimer, Nudrat Rashid, Owen Bradfield, Penny Browne, Traudi Almhofer, Andrew Tan, Nicole Hersch, James Pearlman, Sam Foley, Rolf Gomes, Rose McCarthy,  Ruth Mitchell, Sam Orton, Rob Zielinski, Erin Vaughan, Zara Watson, Joanne Rimington, Sarah Syed, Shafqat Inam, Sophie Collins, Luke Anderson, Talila Milroy, Sue Jacobs, Talila Milroy, Elizabeth Yates, Barbara Depczyski