FRANZCOG trainee Dr Ashleigh Smith

05 October 2020

Born and raised in the regional Queensland town of Toowoomba, FRANZCOG trainee Dr Ashleigh Smith got her first exposure to obstetrics and gynaecology in Vietnam.

“When I went to medical school at Sydney University I got a scholarship to go to Vietnam and was placed in an obstetrics unit in Hanoi,” Ashleigh recalls. “It was an amazing experience, and this was the start my journey.

“Since then, I have really enjoyed the work, the training, the wonderful highs but also the terrible lows. It has become a really meaningful and rewarding career.”

Now in her third year of training, Ashleigh has worked at a number of hospitals in Queensland. Currently based at Toowoomba Hospital with exams behind her, Ashleigh says she is revelling in her work. “It is great to be applying the knowledge of the exams and just enjoying the work.”

Suffering loss

While there have been highs at work, Ashleigh has also experienced tragedy this year, losing a baby daughter through neonatal loss in January. Ashleigh has written about her loss, describing the emotions she went through. “My heart and my soul felt broken. I felt so alone.”

This tragedy saw Ashleigh develop The Glimmer Project, a space for fellow grieving women who have suffered pregnancy loss, whether it be miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death. She has also begun recording The Glimmer Podcast - it is for bereaved mothers who want to hear from international grief and loss experts. “The one thing I hope to contribute in the world is for other women suffering the isolation and agony of losing a baby to feel less alone,” Ashleigh says.

Maintaining hope

Ashleigh says the qualities she has always admired in people include a growth mindset, optimism, and hard work and commitment, and says her message to fellow trainees is simple. “Enjoy your training, study hard, get through your exams and then experience the wonderful world of women’s health.”

“On my journey there has been many consultants and senior College people who have supported me, and I would urge trainees to reach out to their networks if they feel they need it. The support is out there,” Ashleigh says.

Looking forward, Ashleigh believes there is an opportunity for the College and its members and trainees to enhance the public’s perception of obstetricians and gynaecologists and their work. “We can work towards ensuring all of our research, medical evidence and patient-based care is understood by the patient before they require an obstetrician or gynaecologist.”

Dr Ashleigh Smith



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