Reflections from AMSA NLDS

What do you want to be when you grow up?

By Rav Gaddam

As a child, people used to ask me “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, and my answer use to differ every time – from a detective palaeontologist, to a ballerina firefighter, there was never a time I would be content on settling for a constant straightforward answer.

So, when I was awarded the opportunity to attend the National Leadership Development Seminar (NLDS) by AMSA, I was beyond ecstatic – an opportunity to hear from a dancer doctor, or a lawyer doctor, or an actor doctor? BRILLIANT, all I needed now was to find that Kathmandu jacket to brave the Canberra winter.

Each day at NLDS was based on a different theme, but every day we got the opportunity to listen and to learn from inspirational and extraordinary people who have done amazing things in their life. From having coffee chats with A/Prof Ruth Stewart to discuss rural health, to listening to Michael Bonning talk about his time in the ADF, or attending a breakout session with Jessica Dean (#monashpride), these people reminded me that doing medicine does not mean that I have to finish medical school and only become a doctor (and if you want to be just a doctor, that great too!).

However, the session that left the greatest impact on me was a plenary session by Dr Emily Isham. Though it has been nearly four weeks since the event, I find myself often pondering over her speech. Emily is an amazing rural GP, who despite having lost her son to cancer less than a month before NLDS, stood in front of us and delivered a speech that made me brawl. I spent the afternoon on the phone to my mum as I was reminded that life is short, and I need to embrace the people, the opportunities and the dreams I have.

In summary, everyone’s journey at NLDS (and life) is different, but my time there reminded me to reflect on my life thus far, the people around me, and on my childhood dreams. So, if anyone asks me now “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, I guess my answer is quite simple really:

I want to be a detective-palaeontologist-ballerina-firefighting-doctor.


NLDS Experience

By Bowen Xia

AMSA NLDS has been one of the highlights of my year and I highly recommend it due to the skills, experiences and networks that I have gained from it.


My favourite experience at NLDS was the opportunity to interact with and befriend medical students across Australia. We can often be trapped in our own bubbles surrounded by people and opinions that sustain it, so it was refreshing to have paradigms shifted, beliefs altered and the opportunity to see unique and diverse perspectives from presidents of medicine societies to future presidents of medicine societies. I can safely say that when I returned to Monash from Canberra, I carried NLDS souvenirs in my bag, countless photos on my phone and new ideas and perspectives in my mind.


NLDS Projects was also a great experience. Everyone was allocated into various project groups that worked on finding a concrete solution to a current issue in medicine. My project was ‘reducing burnout in medical students’. We worked on it for a good part of NLDS and had great mentorship from speakers and members of the AMSA Executive Committee. We got to present and view all the projects at Old Parliament House at the end of NLDS. The result was us winning the award for ‘best project’ but the real prize was the fun that we had by working together.


The social activities were also great fun. The ball was an excellent time to socialise with other participants of NLDS over some EtOH and food. The trivia night was a great opportunity to discover that nobody knows anything. Finally, the end of NLDS party at Mooseheads allowed us to celebrate and farewell a memorable experience and then get late night maccas after making closing time.


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