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Dr Andrew Miller

18 January 2021


Dr Andrew Miller has stepped down from the obstetrics side of his work after 25 years. The NT News spoke to him about his career. This article was published on December 19, 2020 via www.ntnews.com.au

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Dr Andrew Miller is a familiar face to many Territorians. In fact, his would have been the very first face many of them saw upon entering the world.

The popular Darwin obstetrician-gynaecologist (OB-GYN), who has worked at Darwin Private Hospital for 25 years, delivered his last baby on Monday, ahead of stepping down from obstetrics work altogether at the end of this year.

The little girl, Jemima Erickson McCrie, was born by caesarean to Darwin locals Sue Erickson and Tom McCrie.

“People absolutely do recognise me around Darwin. Everywhere I go, there’ll be someone there and they’ll say ‘you delivered me’, or ask ‘is it true you delivered me?’ and I’ll say yes!,” Dr Miller said.

“When people visit Darwin, they’ll come into my office and bring in their son or daughter and say ‘this is the doctor who delivered you’, and we’ll take photos.

“And frequently, high risk babies, when it’s their birthday, their parents always send me photos … they always remember.”

Proud dad Mr McCrie said the couple had specifically asked for Dr Miller after he helped deliver their first born son Terence four years ago.

“Even in challenging and fraught circumstances we always felt we were in safe hands with him,” Mr McCrie said.

“He was crucial to the safe delivery of Terence in September 2016, who ended up being born by emergency caesarean section.

“Sue’s labour with him became complicated after about six hours and Dr Miller’s early intervention and good judgment saved us from persevering with that course.

“However he remained respectful of our ultimate decision making and autonomy throughout the process.

“He is always pleasant and has a very comforting presence.”

Surprisingly for a doctor so passionate about his field, Dr Miller didn’t start out wanting to work in OB-GYN, or even in medicine at all.

His first area of interest, after growing up on a small dairy farm in regional Victoria, was forestry, the industry his father worked in.

He studied a science degree majoring in forestry in the Australian National University and even worked in the industry for a few years before deciding he wanted a change.

It was while seeking university admission to study an MBA that he stumbled across medicine and decided to give it a try at Flinders University – and the rest is history.

He settled on pursuing an OB-GYN specialty after a positive experience in his fifth year rotation.

“Looking back, it’s not what you’re doing, it’s who you’re working with that’s important,” he said.

“It wasn’t that I sat down and thought ‘I want to be an obstetrician’. In the end it was the people I worked with that determined what I did.
“The obstetrics people were really nice people to work who made me feel welcome.”

Looking for an opportunity to establish himself in the field, Dr Miller moved to Darwin and started working at both Royal Darwin Hospital and Darwin Private Hospital in January 1996, and soon after opted to work exclusively at the latter.

He has now worked there as an OB-GYN for several weeks shy of 25 years, and has delivered a staggering 8300 babies in that time – an average of 332 a year.

“There was one year there when I delivered 519 babies in a year. That’s an enormous amount. But for all those early years, the numbers of babies I delivered were in the high 400s and low 500s,” he said.

“They used to talk about a private obstetrician in a major Australian capital city doing 90 a year or something, and here I was doing 519 … I was doing five or six times the average in Australia at that time. So the numbers were crazy.”

He has also spearheaded a shared care midwifery program at Darwin Private Hospital the only one of its kind in Australia, and promoted more training for midwives in general.

Dr Miller loves the work he does, and his professional philosophy has always been that “duty comes first” – “that your needs as a patient are number one, and everything else in secondary”.

However, he said the demands of being responsible for so many patients as a sole practitioner, and being on call around the clock, took heavy individual toll that he now needed to step back from.

“The hours that I was here, I lived here, and you get continual calls,” he said.

“You generally do a ward round from about 7am … and frequently you wouldn’t finish until 8pm or 9am. Then when you go home you are constantly getting phone calls, and sometimes you’ll have to come into the hospital.

“That’s been one of the really difficult things. In other states you might now be working in a group practice of five people where you share the responsibilities. But here we don’t have that – it’s just you.”

“I love what I do, but there are just a whole lot of factors that make it time to say, ‘it’s time to stop here’”.

Though he is leaving obstetrics, this will not be the last time Dr Miller is around babies for a while.

He is about to become a father for a fifth time, with his partner Lom expecting their child in March 2021.

This time, however, he will not be performing the delivery himself, but simply standing by his partner’s side to support her through the process.

“It’s a very exciting time for Lom and I,” he said.

“I just see one beautiful lady who is so happy being pregnant and looking forward to a baby and I’m really happy to be part of that.”

Reflecting on his time as an obstetrician, Dr Miller said that obstetrics was a unique speciality in medicine – one which centres on a huge life milestone for everyone involved, and which can come with great joy, but also great sorrow, and sometimes even a bit of humour.

He said it had been a privilege to help so many Territorians through some of the biggest and most emotional events of their lives, and one he had not taken lightly.

“What I’m proud of is that I’ve provided a service to 8300 women where I believe that I’ve put them first and provided the care that they needed above all else, and chaperoned them through a stage of their life that is very important,” he said.

“I can’t change the world, or the system, but I do feel that if people have come to me, I have tried to provide a service that meets their needs and puts them first.

“It’s a beautiful thing, new life. And that is what I really feel that I enjoy about the field.”

Though leaving obstetrics, Dr Miller will continue his gynaecology work at Darwin Private Hospital next year.



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