This week I’m interviewing a Gynae as part of my Women at Work series…. Dr Kendall Bouard qualified as a specialist Obstetrician and Gynaecologist 8 years ago and has since developed a keen interest in female pelvic floor disorders. She is currently working with a dynamic team of colleagues in the Urogynaecology and Pelvic Floor Reconstruction Unit at Groote Schuur Hospital and the University of Cape Town.
Kendall has been married for 5 years and has a busy, sweet one year old boy! Read on for my interview with her…
When did you know this is what you wanted to do?
To be honest, when I was at school I did not plan on becoming a doctor. Although I was interested in Biology, I preferred working with my hands and creating things. I started a degree in Mechanical Engineering with the plan to perhaps specialise in Biomedical Engineering at a later stage. Half way through the first year though I became more interested in Medicine and decided to apply to study Medicine the following year.
What did you study – was it in this field or something different?
I studied Medicine at the University of Cape Town. I then went on to specialise in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Groote Schuur Hospital through the College of Medicine in South Africa.
What was your first job in the industry? and what path has your career taken since?
After I qualified as a doctor, I did my Internship in Port Elizabeth. I was then sent up to a rural hospital in Mpumalanga for a year to do my Community Service. After that I followed most of my colleagues to the UK. I spent a year and a half there doing long term locums in mostly Paediatrics and Surgery. I enjoyed travelling around the UK and Europe in my free time. When I moved back to SA I went to work at Red Cross Children’s Hospital with the plan to specialise in Paediatrics. That was a fantastic experience, but I couldn’t see myself as a Paediatrician. I bumped into one of my university lecturers in a shopping centre and she mentioned that there was a vacancy at Mowbray Maternity Hospital. One thing led to another and eventually I specialised in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Towards the end of my time specialising at Groote Schuur Hospital I became more exposed to the field of Urogynaecology (Female pelvic floor disorders). I found this fascinating as it appealed to my ‘mechanical’ mind. In addition, it was (and still is) a relatively new subspeciality in South Africa with many exciting new developments with regards to assessment and treatment options. Shortly after qualifying as a Gynaecologist, a position became available in the Urogynaecology and Pelvic Floor Reconstruction Unit at Groote Schuur Hospital. I was very fortunate to get position and that is where I am currently working.
What have been the highlights?
The highlight of my career so far would be getting my Medical degree and then qualifying as a specialist with my FCOG (SA) degree (after literally many years of blood, sweat, tears and sleepless nights).
What’s the best part of your job?
There are many parts of my job that I enjoy. I love interacting with the women of Cape Town, educating them about pelvic floor disorders and using my knowledge and skills to manage their symptoms. I work with an energetic and dynamic group of doctors, nurses and physiotherapists who are always sharing knowledge and learning from one another. This makes for a pleasant working environment. As with most doctors who work in a surgical field, I love operating and developing new surgical skills.
What is the most challenging part?
Working in a government hospital, the most challenging part of my job is the implications of the strict hospital budget. Unfortunately patients wait a long time for surgery as we have limited theatre time. It is difficult explaining to a woman that is leaking urine to the extent that she needs to wear nappies that she has to wait 5-6 months for surgery. Also, as most pelvic floor problems are ‘quality of life’ disorders and not ‘life threatening’ disorders we are not able to offer the full range of treatment options for a specific problem.
What is your typical day, or maybe week if days are very different?
On a Monday morning my team and I will see all the patients that we will be operating on that Thursday. We closely review each patient to check that we are all in agreement with regards to what procedure needs to be performed. We also explain to the patient what we will be doing and answer any questions. On a Monday afternoon I run a clinic where I do specialist bladder tests (urodynamics) on women with various bladder symptoms. On Tuesdays I run a hysteroscopy clinic where we see women with mostly bleeding abnormalities, fertility problems or recurrent miscarriages. We place a small camera into the woman’s uterus to assess for any abnormalities. On Wednesday morning we have a teaching session which is focussed around the patients for theatre that week where senior doctors in the team teach students and the junior doctors. Following that we have 2 clinics. In the morning we run a general Gynaecology clinic where we see women with a wide variety of Gynaecological problems that have been referred to us by their doctors. A large percentage of these women have been referred for pelvic organ prolapse. In the afternoon we run a clinic for women with urinary incontinence (leaking) problems. Thursday is our theatre day and we operate all day. For a change of scenery on Fridays I work at the Antenatal clinic at Mowbray Maternity Hospital. I work with their fantastic team seeing pregnancy women in the clinic.
In addition to the clinical work, my colleagues and I are also involved in teaching undergraduate and postgraduate medical students, organising conferences, performing research, etc.
What are the “secrets” to your success?
Focus, work hard, keep your eye on the prize.
As a mom how do you get the balance between your family and career life right? Your tips and tricks?
I’m not sure if I am getting it right yet. I am only one year into motherhood and it is definitely a challenge, especially with no close family in town. Things that have definitely made it easier have been: a very supportive husband, understanding colleagues and a brilliant nanny for my son.
Before we started a family I would often bring work home in the evenings or over weekends. Now, what cannot be done during the day needs to wait until tomorrow (with the occasional exception).
What do you do for fun in your down time?
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends here in Cape Town. My husband and I love taking our little one year old around to the various sites in the beautiful Western Cape. We especially enjoy the outdoor markets, the beaches, the forest and of course the trails on Table Mountain.
I also love running and enjoy reading novels. Unfortunately these have taken a bit of a back seat recently in my attempt to juggle family and work life. Definitely a challenge for next year…
What do you still want to achieve?
I would like to continue developing my knowledge and surgical skills in my field of practise.
Dr Kendall Brouard is one of the four specialists that will be hosting International Urogynaecology Association (IUGA) public women’s forum on Monday, 1 August at Cape Town International Convention Center. Amongst the topic of discussion is menopause and bladder function, this forum is promising to be highly informative. Admission is free.
For more details and to RSVP please visit http://www.iugameeting.org/public-forum/