Director of Paediatric Anaesthetics
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My great grandfather and my grandfather and my father were doctors here at Waikato Hospital, and they were all also called Doctor Hugh Douglas.
My great grandfather was the second medical superintendent appointed in March 1889, and was in the role for 20 years.
He would wrote all these lovely letters home to England about the hospital – he called it his ‘little hoppity’
It’s nice having that family connection to the hospital.
It was confusing for a while too, because both dad and I worked here for a time. I’d get called to do radiology things and he would get called to do anaesthetic things.
My great aunt Mary Douglas also worked here; she delivered a lot of babies and some older patients say she delivered them.
She was the first female doctor to be appointed at Waikato Hospital. One of my aunts, Maggie Douglas, was a charge nurse in the TB (tuberculosis) ward.
I first came here as a registrar in 1994 for three years, then went to work in South Australia and New South Wales, continuing my training in anaesthetics. I returned to Hamilton in 2001 as a paediatric anaesthetic consultant.
" It’s interesting and challenging work, and I enjoy working with children... "
It’s interesting and challenging work, and I enjoy working with children. With the little kids (as I prepare them for surgery) I sing songs and tell them stories.
My favourites are A Dragon in a Wagon by Lynley Dodd and It’s the Bear! (from the Eddy & the Bear series) by Jez Alborough.
They are good because they are rhyming stories so they are easy to remember. They are books I read to my own children (Kitt, 7; Bronte, 13; Max, 14; Rebecca, 17).
Older children are more verbal, so it’s about trying to get a rapport going, trying to get them to relax and make things as easy for them as possible.
And I like to tell jokes; there are lots of jokes. I also do general adult anaesthetics, but at least half of my workload would be paediatric anaesthetics which is my subspecialty.
I’ve been subspecialising in paediatric anaesthetics since 1999/2000, when I was working in Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney.
It’s good at Waikato Hospital; it’s small enough that you get a chance to maintain your general skills as well as your chosen subspecialty.
I do quite a bit of teaching too. Part of my appointment is as senior lecturer at the University of Auckland.
I do quite a few tutorials for registrars in their final year, and I supervise 4th, 5th and 6th year students here doing their anaesthetic runs.
We see some sick kids and some days you realise how lucky you are and just go home and give your kids a big hug.
I do enjoy my job; it’s very satisfying. I work with a strong team of technicians and nurses and surgeons and we all work together as a team.
Everyone that works here says it’s one of the best things about Waikato; we have a smaller hospital feeling, and that sense of collegiality, compared to bigger centres.
If you know people and get on well with them, then work is fun, and that can facilitate patient care too; and that good feeling doesn’t happen so much at larger hospitals.
In Hamilton you get to do complex cases, but the lifestyle is better.
You can get around easily without traffic problems: it takes me 15 minutes to bike to work.