A dummy is a piece of paper or a piece of paper with holes in it as a test to determine that you have some sort of disease. It is a fun way to tell your partner that you have something that you need an official diagnosis on. But don’t use it for sex – if you have a disease that you need to see a doctor for, don’t use a dummy!
How did you become a medical student?
I had no idea it would ever lead to this. It all started, of course, because I was at my first medical school – UTS, and the first two months my English wasn’t as good as most of my peers. That was a bit of a problem. I used to sit there and write down everything that I could remember in my head, trying to remember everything. I was having a real hard time, and then one of my lecturers was talking about a course called The Art of Medical Writing. The course covered everything: physiology, chemistry, anatomy, and physiology of all the body’s glands and tissue – that was the only thing I really knew! He said, “You could write about the anatomy of a tooth and what happens when you bite it, and then you could write a story about how this tooth hurts. I was really intrigued.”
So I ended up taking a course on Clinical Psychology that included how to write a medical story – and I wrote a lot. But that was only a small part of the program. So I went on to be a student nurse, then assistant professor, then assistant dean, for the University of Sydney at one point. And at the beginning of my career in medicine, I wrote my own little book about my experiences, called Meditations on the Web of Life, and then came to work with people and did a lot of training.
When did you start to get more serious about your career?
It was during the ’90s, when HIV/AIDS had spread to New York City and had struck so many people in so many different ways. So I spent a lot of time with people in the medical industry around the time I had to leave the hospital and look for other avenues. But also during that time, I began taking courses in social work, as well as philosophy and sociology, so I had this very eclectic curriculum. I ended up in Washington, D.C., where I became president of the U.S. Student Society for Social Work. That was the first job in which I worked