Cocktails With — Dr Autrene Buchanan-Waite

Sunday, March 24, 2019

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Autrene Buchanan-Waite is a final-year resident in the paediatric surgery programme at the Bustamante Hospital for Children and immediate past president of the Jamaica Medical Doctors' Association (JMDA). Last month, Dr Buchanan-Waite managed the JMDA's ninth annual ethics conference, under the theme “It Goes Both Ways”. The conference provides continuing medical education ethics credits to members and an avenue to discuss topics and issues that are relevant to medical practice which aren't necessarily taught in medical school. Despite a hectic work schedule, she creates family time — she has one son and is married to her high school sweetheart. Style Observer (SO) discusses medical ethics, shoes and misogyny with the self-professed “country girl” over a glass of strawberry daiquiri at the Spanish Court Hotel.

What was the executive committee's rationale behind this year's JMDA conference?

We recognised that there are two sides to every situation/story — the patient's vs the practitioner's. Also, as practitioners we have two sides — the professional side and the side with our peers which have impacted on some of our conference topics, such as social media. We have unfortunately had instances where unprofessional posts from members were made on their personal social media accounts.

What are the parameters within which a medical practitioner can ethically decide to no longer work with a patient?

That was a very interesting presentation by Dr Derek Mitchell. Some of the examples he noted included an abusive patient, where a professional relationship becomes personal or intimate, a lawsuit, if the care requested is not offered by the physician or against the particular code of the physician. He did however note that there must be a suitable replacement by someone available with similar expertise.

To what degree have you experienced misogyny as a female doctor?

To be truthful, I haven't experienced much. What is common is that it's assumed I'm a nurse even after multiple introductions and corrections. That occurs only with patients though, and at the end of the day that's who I'm there to treat, so I put my personal feelings aside and do what I'm there to do. I think as a female in a male-dominated field we will always have to work that much harder, especially if we have a family, but I personally haven't had any such experiences with my male colleagues (thank heavens). Also, the ratio is changing and very soon there will be more females than males in the medical field.

Without breaking confidentiality, what has been your most difficult patient interaction to date?

I would put a spin on it and say the most difficult situation I've had to deal with is a patient's death, a child, while I was an intern. It was not my first death but this child made such a connection with me, would only allow me to do certain procedures on him, and he faced death like a champion. Even in the face of personal issues with his parents not getting along. I cried when he passed and at his funeral. He was such a sweet soul for his short time on Earth.

What's the best advice you can share with medical students?

Work hard but remember to have a life outside of medicine. What's the point of achieving it all and having no one to share it with?

How do you stay motivated?

My family. No matter how old I get I think about making my parents proud. They have put so much into my education and into who I am today. Also, my son and my husband. They really have been through a lot based on my work/study hours.

What was the last book you read/movie that you enjoyed?

The last book I read was medical-related so, I'll go with movie. I really enjoyed Aquaman.

What are five things about you that many would find hard to believe?

1. I am a football fan. Hala, Madrid!!!

2. I love to cook. I will cook for friends sometimes but can't have them over too often... then they don't want to leave!

3. Favourite drink is anything with white rum.

4. I'm a country girl. Born in Mandeville and lived there a short while, but both my parents are from St Elizabeth; Mommy from Little Park and Daddy from Flaggaman, where I enjoy going every chance I get.

5. I have a fear of balloons. I hate them. I am however working on that, as well.

What lessons has motherhood taught you?

Patience and giving up some control. As a matter of fact, I'm still in the learning process. Some may say I have a far way to go.

Heels or flats?

Definitely heels. Heels, heels, heels!

Jeans or LBD?

Now, jeans. But in the past, LBD.

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