Advice from IGS alumnus Daniel Hirsch

IGS Alumnus Daniel Hirsch (2010) reflects on his time at IGS, gives insight into his career and offers some advice to students wishing to pursue a career in medicine.

Daniel first considered a career in medicine when he was in High School, and when he graduated from IGS he pursued a degree in medical research.

“I think my time at IGS gave me the confidence and curiosity to make the most of opportunities. This has allowed me to travel and study in many places,” Daniel said.

“During my undergraduate degree, I worked in a research lab for a year and realised it wasn’t for me.

“One of the interesting parts of that job was that every week a clinician would visit and present on hospital trials. I remember thinking, ‘I want to do that’.”

While studying and working in medicine, Daniel spent time abroad in Pokhara, Nepal and Glasgow, Scotland.

“Doctors in Nepal still wear white lab coats and I remember that none of them fit me properly. For weeks I couldn’t straighten my arms. The burden of disease is different, with lots of tuberculosis and parasitic infections. The way conditions are managed when resources are limited tends to emphasise the importance of physical examination and local epidemiology, which we sometimes undervalue,” Daniel said.

“Scotland was a completely different experience. I ended up in a small coastal town known as a summer getaway. It was winter. I followed the endocrinology team and spent most of my time learning about diabetes. I enjoyed exploring Scotland when not at the hospital, and one weekend we even got away to Portugal.”

Daniel also travelled and worked in Orange for two years.

“There have been a lot of rewarding moments, but the highlight is definitely the people that I meet and get to work with. Not just other doctors but also nurses and allied health staff,” Daniel said.

This year, Daniel started a new role at The Prince of Wales Hospital as a Medical Registrar.

“My job normally involves a combination of ward rounds, clinics, procedures, being on call, learning and teaching. I am also responsible for the junior doctors on the team and communicating with the consultants,” he said.

“Aside from social distancing, my day-to-day job is actually similar; although, the hospital environment has clearly changed. Everyone is now screened before they are allowed into the building, the way we deliver care has shifted towards tele-health; we have all had to adapt to delivering care over the phone/internet, and our work meetings and lectures have all been moved online. Overall we are a lot more cautious,” he said.

“When the pandemic started I was the renal registrar and a decision was made early to suspend all renal transplants across Australia and New Zealand, which actually meant there was less work! (These have since restarted).

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how supportive the medical community in Australia is. We are all very grateful that everyone is taking social distancing and hand hygiene seriously.”

His advice to students is to “always do what interests you and don’t rush,” he said.

“Specific to medicine, I would suggest keeping an open mindset and developing good study habits early.”

Reflecting on his time at IGS, Daniel said ArtsFest was one of the best days of the year.

“I have a great memory of Mr Dennehy teaching us a Haka, and of doing a dance to a medley of ABBA songs,” he said.

“I have several less specific memories of Mr Galea hitting the gong a lot, and of Ms Dodd restoring order to our tutor group several mornings a week.”