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Now and Then - A Gynaecologist' Journey

Dr Margaret Smith AM

Now & Then
- A Gynaecologist’s Journey is the autobiography of Dr Margaret Smith, a Perth based Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. She is one of the foundation members of the Australasian Menopause Society, and was the President from 1995 to 1997.

Margaret is now in her late 70’s, and this book, published only last year, follows her life journey through her childhood, University years, early and late careers to now. She shares the experiences in her life that set her path, or were the turning points that got her through, not just in terms of shaping her career but also the making of herself as a person. She does this through story telling, giving opinions and analysis, and describing the people she met along the way.

She recounts many varied and interesting clinical scenarios - especially from her years in the Papua New Guinea Highlands where she had to deal with situations one could not dream of, including the delivery of premature, undiagnosed triplets, with no paediatric support! This and many other stories make light and entertaining reading. She also recounts stories of the non medical, and non clinical aspects of her life - her teaching, and her near death experiences in 2002 and her eventual recovery.

Margaret was one of the pioneering women who studied medicine at a time when it was the domain of men. It was fascinating to read that there were only 4 women graduating in her class from the University of Adelaide in 1955 and they were all denied a resident position at a hospital after graduation purely on gender and the assumption they would not need a hospital post as they would not be specialising. It is therefore thanks to women like Margaret and her supporters that have made the career paths for we later generations of women doctors so much smoother and give us broader options.

Times have changed dramatically since Margaret was born and embarked on her career. She is still an active member of the medical community and therefore is very qualified to compare the “Now and Then”. As the blurb on her back cover states this may seem judgmental but after so many years and so many experiences it is only fair she is allowed to do this.

This book is an interesting read of one woman’s journey through the era in which she grew up, an era where Margaret made many sacrifices and choices that we modern medico’s did not have to make.   Margaret’s generation paved the way and it is enlightening to read her story!

Reviewed by Dr Elizabeth Gallagher
Content updated 5 July 2011

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