Dr Lauren Squires, MD, MPH, BSc (Hons)
What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted in your life? (Feel free to give specific brands/models).
A good set-up to get a proper sleep, even if I'm on night shift and needing to sleep during the day! At the moment for me this involves a sleep mask (mine is Manta brand), and silicone putty earplugs from the pharmacy. Good sleep is so underrated!
What is the funniest thing that has happened (to you or witnessed) in your job?
There are lots of brilliant stories in medicine that are best not shared, as to respect the privacy of our patients- so this is a really hard one to answer! I have definitely run my boss over with our mobile workstations ("computer on wheels") more than once.
Favourite guilty pleasure after a stressful day at work?
I love a good bath after a gross day, and will often seek solace in some mindless TV. I love creative 'reality' shows; Blown Away and Project Runway are two favourites.
How has a failure (or apparent failure) set you up for later success? Do you have a "favourite failure" of yours?
Just the other week, I wanted to discharge a patient and my boss asked for several more tests- by boss was spot on, and we found something serious. I would have failed that patient, but I've learned from the experience and my judgement improves.
If you have a billboard for all other healthcare professionals out there with any message, what would it say? (It can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)
It works on so many levels. Be kind to your patients, you're forgetting how scared they are and how unfamiliar this is. Be kind to your colleagues, you're forgetting the pressures they're facing.
What is an unusual habit or (conventionally considered to be) absurd thing that you do/love (may or may not be related to your discipline/practice)?
Honestly I'm a pretty absurd human. If spending my free time painting ribcages made out of bananas doesn't count, I'm not sure what does.
In the last 5 years, what new belief, behaviour or habit that has most improved your life (may or may not be related to your discipline/practice)?
I have been actively prioritizing balance in the last 5 years. in my second year of med school, the stress and the pressure and my own mental health vulnerabilities got to me and I went through a really rough patch. I got a lot of help from both professionals and friends, and since then I've been working very hard to prioritize being a good, well rounded human.
What advice would you give to a smart, driven student? What advice should they ignore?
Look at your skills and interests and find what you have to offer the world. Follow that. Think about the practicalities of careers too- would you be happy to work weekends or shift work or move interstate or overseas? Ask people about the thing they like the least in their jobs, and decide if you could put up with that. Ignore all that crap about 'find what you love and you'll never work a day in your life'.
What bad recommendations you hear in your area of expertise that you would want to correct the most?
The concept of 'do your own research' on healthcare. Being engaged and informed is awesome, but the best way to do this is to find a primary care provider who listens to your questions and concerns and is able to help you navigate the evidence base to chose the right treatment path. Please don't take your health advice from social media or anyone trying to sell you a for-profit product!
In the last 5 years, what have you become better at saying "no" to? What new realizations helped?
Social events that I really don't have the bandwidth for. Painting projects I'm not excited about. Commitments I don't want. I've become much more discerning with my time as workload has increased and I've realised that I only have the capacity to take a certain amount of stuff on.
When you feel overwhelmed or lost focus temporarily, what do you do? (What questions do you ask yourself to get back on track?)
I generally start by making sure I'm well rested and decently fed- that helps a lot with the overwhelmed feeling! Then it's a matter of assessing my priorities and deciding if I need to step back and cut some commitments out, or if I need to plough through and get some stuff done. Also if anything can be outsourced for a little while to give you some more breathing space.
What is your best or your favourite achievement in your career so far?
Clinically, the thing I treasure the most are really the small wins; the times I can make a scare or distressing event for a patient or family a little bit less horrible by clear communication and compassion. They're the moments that I love what I do. Being accepted into emergency medical training was pretty great too! Painting wise, I'll never forget the first large scale watercolour I did- a giant spine the size of a doorway. I took so many photos with that thing because I was so proud of it!!
Dr Lauren Squires, MD, MPH, BSc (Hons)
With a background in research science, Lauren had no intention to become a doctor until she undertook a Masters in Public health. She entered medicine without ever having taken an anatomy class, or opened a copy of Netters. In hindsight, she suspects was not a great way to prepare for the rigours of a medical program.
To cope with the steep learning curve of an MD program, Lauren quickly turned to anatomy colouring books and hand illustrating her study notes. Finding this creative time a lovely respite from textbooks and lectures, she eventually created Almost Anatomical- a passion project focusing on creating pieces of whimsical watercolour anatomy art. Several years later, she still prioritizes finding time to paint as respite from clinical demands as she pursues a career in Emergency Medicine.
Lauren’s work is particularly interested in capturing the wonder we feel when we are first discovering how the human body works and fits together. The body is a beautiful and amazing thing- not only for how it looks, but what it does! She particularly loves creating pieces for medical and health clinics; works that are both anatomically correct and educational, as well as much more engaging than same old anatomy posters we’re all used to! Most of all, she loves to bring a sense of humor to anatomy, working in bright, non-anatomical colours, and incorporating blooming flowers into pieces of anatomy.
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