Motivational talk on specialist training and Emergency Medicine

Last month I had the pleasure of talking with the UOW 2015 graduating medical at their “welcome to the real world” workshop lecture series. It was a real honour to be invited to speak about Emergency Medicine with this group of future doctors.

I decided to offer some reflections about my own diverse journey which has spanned several countries and a few different disciplines including surgery (which I embarked on many years ago), research (which led to a PhD that was complted this year) and emergency medicine (which I am currently in the process of completing).

2. My journey

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some of the highlights of the talk for me was to be able to use a bit of simulation and creative to highlight through direct experience what some of the key elements of Emergency Medicine include. To this end I used a bit of shaking and laughter yoga, an audience surprise, and finally a short guided meditaiton to let the group exeprience the calm within the storm. I was lucky this was such a willing audience.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The actual talk was a good chance to highlight the importance of knowing onself when chosing a medical speciality, as well as knowing what that speciality is about, and understanding what the job entails; both positives and negatives. For me the key reasons to chose a speciality is related to inspiration, and taking a path towards following an inner dream. Mentorship is key for this long journey, and I am every grateful to have had many great mentors along the way.

1. Why we chose a career path

The talk ended with a guitar peformance of a song I wrote whilst doing field work for my PhD titled Peaceful Revolution. It’s an interesting song about some of the wisdom I learned in the villages of rural Sri Lanka. Part of the song is about how there seems to be much more harmony between nature and human existing in the rural areas, and in the cities where I’ve spent most of my life it is easy to have so much in material wealth, but at the same time so easy to forget to touch the hearts of others.

IMG_7195 - Version 2

The gratitude List

There are always so many people to thank for every talk I give. First and foremost I am grateful to my many wonderful mentors – without whom a talk of this nature would not be possible. Then there was the audience, not only for being a kind and generous audience, but also for participating with some of the off-the-beaten-track interactions that I had schemed into this particular talk. Thanks also to the new graduates;- Dr Hayley Dyke who helped me out with being an improptu back up guitarist for the performance, and of course to the lovely Dr Beatrice Dowsett, a member of the class and workshop organiser who invited me to speak. Bea is such amazing person, talented both within and outside the medical arena. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her at the local hospital acting/film/drama forum created by Dr Tony Chu with the help of other keen artistic doctors at Wollongong Hospital, who meet up monthly for the what we call Fry Day Drama (read more to find out).

I am also very thankful for the clinical team of which I am part of at at the Wollongong hospital, for supporting me to get across to the university campus to deliver the talk during a busy – (Thanks Dr Venita Visvalingam, my supervising Consultant Physician and Dr Annie McKean our hard working Intern!).

Thanks to Dr Nemeshi Fernando who was one of class who gave me some feedback (which I put on my You Tube channel) about the talk. It’s always wondeful to get nice feedback from the audience, and to know that your message is understood.

But finally – Congratulations to the UOW 2015 class – Well done – You made it!!

and… “welcome to the real world!”

Extra web-links

Please leave your “feedback” below:-

I have included the entire talk above, with some additional slides that include a few medical related poems that I once submitted to an Australasian College of Emergency Medicine (ACEM) conference.

If you are reading this and attended the talk, please leave your feedback in the comments section below. I would love to know what was helpful and what resonated most with you as I endeavour to develop this talk further in the future and your feedback is warmly appreciated. 🙂

Don’t be afraid to fail

“Don’t be afraid to fail” – wise word by Arnold Schwartzenegger – body builder, actor, politician, and “visionary”, and also one of my childhood heroes. These quotes are captured in the 3-minute video clip attached to the link below;-

I’m so grateful for the above message was sent to me by my amazing cousin Dilini Ratnayake, because it a pertinent reminder that  about what is necessary to succeed in living the life of one’s dreams.

“Don’t pay attention to those who say that it can’t be done”, Arnie wisely advises.

Another key message in this clip is to ‘work your butt off’ and then one day  ‘you’ll get there’.

I agree.

Having a dream alone is not enough, for one needs to take action in the direction of their dreams.


I once made a presentation on this very topic to junior doctors, at the global health drinks forum a couple of years ago. The talk was aimed at inspiring those who were  interested in doing international to take the plunge and set out on their adventure,


Like so many visionaries who manage to out their dreams into action, Arnie, was a person who had to first believe in himself, and suspend self-doubt. I believe every successful person and had to at once stage move beyond doubt, and perhaps continually ‘has to’ do this.


“It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela


I once tried to capture this same sentiment through a poem called “suspend disbelief” which I’d like to share here.

I wonder if it resonates with you? One doesn’t have to write a PhD or being a doctor to know the trials of life – I believe these challenge affects us all no matter how big or small the task at hand – living life is a task after all, and it is all relative.


I see this challenge everyday in the patients I meet in the emergency department and I relate to their struggle on a personal level.


Thanks again to Dilini for sending me the reminder, and for sharing her spirit of positivity and success!



Suspend disbelief


Suspend Disbelief,

Suspend that thief!


For he will steal all you have got, and more,

And still, he can never even the score,


Because what you can’t do amounts to a mountain of things,

So why not focus on what you “can” and then sit with the kings?


For anyone who has triumphed first had to believe,

And this way you will “earn your keep”, without having to thieve,


After all, you already have what you need,

For when you were born you were given the seed,


So plant it now, and grow your tree,

Until you do this you will never be free,


Why not do what you came here to do?

“Believe in yourself” and the marvels will ensue,


Just be that deaf frog one more time,

You can make it through the grit and the grime,


For in the end, all that can be done will be done,

And all that can’t be done, wont be done,


So relax and rejoice in the knowing,

That when you are flowing, you are growing,


By letting your branches take you away,

To a “place of peace” where you can one day stay.

Just Try


When ever you feel like you can’t,

Or you shan’t,


Just try!




Because one day you will die, and wouldn’t it be good to know you at least gave it a try?


We don’t have to make it perfect,

For life is a continual game,


And the is no shame in participation,

In fact, success is failure turned inside out,


Even when you sing, it doesn’t matter if all that comes out is a shout,

For it is the ‘spirit’ of the activity that matters,


In realizing this, your perfectionism shatters!


For there is plenty of time for getting it right later,

Right now you need to enter the crater and start!


So with everything you plan to do,

Just start it now,


Don’t think – just do!

And soon you’ll be through,


Making progress like a trooper,

Everything will be super duper,


Because you will have removed ‘doubt’ from you vocabulary,


Recognizing that the only real failure is to not give it at try,

So don’t be shy,

Just give it a try!