Dr Ranjana Srivastava OAM

Oncologist, Fulbright Scholar, Writer & Broadcaster

What it Takes to be a Doctor. Ranjana's new book. Available now!Ranjana's Award Winning Books
If you, or someone you know, is thinking of becoming a doctor, you can't go past this essential guide from one of Australia's finest doctors - and writers. What is the life of a doctor really like? Is there an end to studying? Are money and prestige guaranteed? Can a fulfilling ...

Welcome to my website! I am a physician practicing oncology and internal medicine in Australia. I believe that the art of medicine is as important as its science and I am grateful for the support of the institutions and individuals who make it possible for me to promote my mission.

I invite you to read my columns and books and get in touch with your comments.

Every year I meet aspiring doctors who want advice about studying medicine. Here is what I tell them
What is that antibiotic I am allergic to that sounds like penicillin but isn't? What happens when I take ibuprofen? Did my last ECG have a left or right bundle branch block? Am I due for my pneumonia shot yet? What does proteinuria mean?
Of all the places in the hospital, the intensive care unit (ICU) is one of the most confounding. On one hand, it can weave magic as I found out in the case of my frail, deaf and elderly cancer patient who had arrived in a diabetic coma and whose litany of medical problems would have been sufficient for many doctors to say enough.
In a time of bewildered young children crying for their parents at border crossings, the world found an antidote in the meticulous rescue of another group of youngsters trapped in a dangerous cave from which emerging alive was considered improbable.
Although family doctors are an anchor for many patients, my patient had a terrible experience with his when he was diagnosed with advanced cancer. The doctor and the patient were of a similar age, both with young children. The doctor was said to be completely unsettled by his patient's predicament.
An 85-year old woman is ambivalent about having cancer surgery and I ask the surgeon what her goal might be. "Her goal?" he asks, rather nonplussed. "Isn't everyone's goal to live longer?" As it turns out, no. She declines surgery because she's afraid that even the slightest complication will result in her having to place her husband in a nursing home.
Breaking the news of a cancer diagnosis to loved ones, going through treatment, and re-assessing the important things in life.
The first thing I notice is her beautiful hair. She is oblivious to the camera, but her casual beauty must have been hard to miss. The first thought to come to my mind is, "She used to look like that?" Next, I notice there is no space to sit or even stand.
"Have you told her yet?" the social worker asks. "I am waiting for an opportunity", I answer without disclosing the doubt and apprehension that nag me. The patient is 90, snow-haired and slender-built. She delights at our presence, treating us like a fond grandmother and showing unfailing gratitude.
"If there is a doctor on the flight, please ... " The call for a doctor reflexively ejects me out of my seat and towards the sick patient. One flight in every 600 incurs a medical emergency - until recently I used to pack my trusted stethoscope that could actually hear a thing or two amid the din of the plane, but it felt too much like inviting illness.
A door opens behind me, causing my shifting heel to land on a socked foot just as the resident warns me to watch out. "Hey!" an irate voice protests. "First you keep me in pain and now you are trying to kill me."