Dr Kirsten Connan is an obstetrician and gynaecologist and has recently extended her practice to focus on overall women’s healthcare. She’s also a Telstra Business Women’s Award recipient and passionate about helping women in all aspects of their lives.
You opened Tasmania’s first all-female multidisciplinary obstetrics gynecology and women’s health practice. Why is this important?
I love working with and empowering women. There wasn’t a practice like ours in Hobart, let alone Tasmania so we decided to open one. One of the benefits of having an all-female practice is creating a space that’s respectful and comfortable. The other is having a team who truly understand and empathise with women who often have neglected their healthcare or had previous poor experiences. We look at how that healthcare fits into the big picture of who they are and the journey they’re on. That can be done by male providers as well as female providers but the capacity for satisfaction is highest when it’s done by a team that work together.
What is your scope of practice?
I’m a specialist obstetrician gynecologist. I deliver 10 babies a month and support families through the process of pregnancy, birthing and postnatal care. By having both normal and high risk experience, I never have to transfer patients away. In 2006 I decided to narrow my scope in gynaecology and focus on laparoscopic surgery. I’m left handed but ambidextrous, which for surgery is hugely beneficial because you need to be on both sides of the patient and work symmetrically. I mostly do advanced laparoscopic surgery such as ovarian cysts, pelvic pain and hysterectomies. Within my office gynecology, I cover adolescent gynecology all the way up to menopause.
And the practice as a whole?
We have four GP’s. They all come with a strong interest in women’s healthcare but also with lots of other additional training as well. We have two psychologists, Dana Ataway and Bronwyn Weaver-Pirie, who provide psychology care that ranges from pregnancy related issues around anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorders, then healthcare around sexual dysfunction, pelvic pain, etc. We’ve got a physiotherapist who just does women’s health pelvic physio and is the only physiotherapist in Tasmania who does prolapse work. It’s a new concept for us as gynecologists. Then we have Christine McDonald, an endocrinologist and general physician, who works in the space of endocrine disorder. Outside our practice, we also have regular acupuncturists, naturopaths and other physiotherapists we work with around town.
Women, particularly mothers, tend to put their needs last. How are you hoping to help that?
No doubt, the ease of access will help that. In the practice we’re women who are involved in families and with our own personal networks but we certainly see the detriment of not being involved in self-care yourself and the impact that has both on physical and psychological well being. As women who are also just as vulnerable to neglect our own health care, we encourage each other to do that regularly. We provide that accountability for our patients but we provide it for ourselves as well.
You’re an active participant in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards, taking out the entrepreneur award in 2016. How does this inform your clinical practice?
I’d never heard of the awards until I was nominated. When I first set up TasOGS I came with experience in a private practice as a clinician but not as a business owner. I completely fell in love with running the business and the Telstra Awards provided a platform to meet and become both professional colleagues and friends with other women who are running businesses. It encourages me to constantly hold business excellence in align with clinical excellence. You can be a great clinician but if your business is not good in the background, it’s not going to be sustainable in the same way.
You’ve lived and worked around the world but you settled in Hobart. What do you love about it?
I love almost everything! My husband and I were in Mongolia doing aid work when my mother in law was diagnosed with cancer. She had just retired to regional Victoria and we were the Melbourne base. For most of that last two years, she lived with us and at the end, we were spent. We were tired of the rat race. Hobart was already on the radar. We like the climate and the small town feel having grown up on an island (Tonga) in a small environment. The moment you walk off the plane it feels relaxed and genuine and has a strong focus on community. We have the sea and mountains in short range and it’s only an hour from Melbourne on a flight. It ticked all the boxes for what we were looking for.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love reading under my lemon tree in the backyard. I’m currently reading Women Kind which was written by Dr. Kirstin Ferguson who is the current acting chair for the ABC. I love running and I’ve just gone back to playing hockey for the first time in 21 years! I love spending time with my family—bushwalking, travelling, walking our dog Molly in Knocklofty.
Where’s your go-to café or restaurant?
My cafe was Pilgrim (which recently suffered from a fire) and I love Syra.
Your number one health tip for women?
You’re worth investing into in every aspect, including healthcare.
Learn more about TasOGS at www.tasogs.com