#58 Member profile – Dr Karla Villafana Soto
Dr Karla Villafana Soto
5 March 2019
We are celebrating the achievements of our female members to mark International Women’s Day on Friday 8 March. This year’s theme is ‘Better the balance, better the world’ and AMA Victoria strongly supports a more gender-balanced medical profession. In our International Women’s Day profile series, we’re introducing you to some of our dedicated current and future medical leaders.
1. What is your current role in medicine?
- Medical Registrar, Ballarat Health Services
- Treasurer & Industrial Relations Representative, AMA Victoria Doctors-in-Training Subcommittee
- Workplace Relations Adviser, AMA Victoria
2. Why did you choose to study medicine?
In my childhood I aspired to work with the United Nations or Médecins Sans Frontières, enamoured with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I evaluated a lot of career paths before deciding on medicine, which offered an appealing combination of humanitarian work and science.
3. What is the best part about your work?
I love having the opportunity (especially in a country as fortunate as Australia) to be able to use evidence-based knowledge and resources to help people when they are sick or suffering, or even to help improve their health literacy in order to protect them from problems in the future. Excellent colleagues make difficult days at work tolerable and even enjoyable. I also enjoy seeing improvements that result from advocating for trainees and working alongside juniors as they learn and develop.
4. What is the hardest part about your work?
The medical profession naturally selects individuals who are intrinsically highly ambitious, driven and competitive, which can lead to us burning out and, at times and in some workplaces, this can become a dangerous standard. After the initial honeymoon period of my first year of work, I struggled to find a healthy balance between hospital work and committee roles, both of which I love, and other important aspects of my life such as spending time with my partner, family and friends, developing hobbies unrelated to work, and simply resting. I was not happy to settle for feeling this way, which is why I decided to pursue working part-time and, despite my apprehension, the leap of faith has been worth it.
5. Do you have any advice for others pursuing a career in medicine?
Medicine is a beautiful career to pursue. My advice would be:
- Maintain hobbies and meaningful relationships outside of the medical sphere.
- Throughout your student and working life, regularly bring an awareness to what “being well” means for you and seek help from a mentor, your GP or a psychologist if you feel that you are drifting away from that.
- Support your colleagues and protect the wellbeing of your juniors.
- Learn about your Enterprise Agreement entitlements and speak up when you encounter a breach.
6. What do you enjoy doing away from medicine?
In addition to my clinical work, I feel a strong pull towards advocating for improved working conditions for trainee doctors and I’m very grateful to have been granted opportunities to allow me to do this. Outside of the medical world, I’m pretty low-key. I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, hanging out with my gorgeous dog, seeing live classical music and operas, exploring Melbourne, writing, reading and I recently started keeping a worm farm. On my annual leave a few months ago I went to Europe and tried to see as many Monet paintings as I could, after falling in love with his work during a previous visit. Now that I’m working part-time I have had time and energy to resume long-lost wool-related hobbies, language learning and dancing.