We recently spoke with Dr. Shivam Agrawal, a Clinical and Laboratory Haematologist at POWH to learn more about him, his day-to-day and what he enjoys about working at POWH.
POWHF: What’s your current role at POWH?
Dr. Shivam Agrawal: So my name is Shivam Agrawal. Happy to be called ‘Shiv’. I work as a specialist in the hospital, as a Clinical and Laboratory Haematologist. So that means I treat patients on wards and clinics, but also have a role in the laboratory with diagnostics and quality assurance.
I’m also currently in the role of Clinical Superintendent in Medicine at Prince of Wales Hospital. And that role primarily involves overseeing the training and supervision of specialists in training and medicine, which I enjoy very much.
POWHF: How did you progress in your current role?
Dr. Shivam Agrawal: In my current role, I started here in January of this year. But I’ve been at Prince of Wales on and off for the last 16 years. I’ve trained here at UNSW and was at Prince of Wales for most of my student placements. And then I did most of my training both here in medicine and haematology at POWH over the last eight years or so with a little bit of time away.
I’ve recently been in Melbourne for the last couple of years, at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Center, doing a fellowship there. And I just came back this year. I’ve been in and around the campus for a long time.
POWHF: What do you enjoy most about being at POWH?
Dr. Shivam Agrawal: The one thing that I think stands out at Prince of Wales is the collegiality. I think everyone, all the staff in this hospital, but also on the neighboring campuses all have a very similar goal of looking after patients and making sure the patient experience is smooth as possible. And I really value that as the staff member.
POWHF: What was your initial interest in pursuing haematology?
Dr. Shivam Agrawal: I really enjoy the puzzle of medicine and solving problems.
And in hematology especially, we have lots of lab tests to help patients with complicated problems they may be experiencing. And so it’s really exciting to try and solve the problem primarily. So that’s what really drew me to medicine in the first place. But then further to that, I really like building long term relationships with patients. A lot of our patients stay with us for a very long time and following them through and seeing them improve.
POWHF: What does a typical day at work look like?
Dr. Shivam Agrawal: It’s a different role every day. I really enjoy the variety in my work. But, you know, a typical day could vary from being in the clinic, seeing patients and then going to the ward to see patients. Luckily, we have very nice new Acute Services Building where our haematology ward located on now, which is excellent for all involved. So that is what my work clinical day looks like. A laboratory day will be looking at blood films and I’ll have reports to sign off in the laboratory. If it’s an education-based day, it’d be supervising or taking an educational session for the trainees or being in some sort of committee meeting.
POWHF: Any challenges you face in your role?
Dr. Shivam Agrawal: I think one of the main challenges for me is just getting to know everyone because I work with so many different people and I have been away for a couple of years. Especially with my educational role, there’s a lot of new people that I’m working with, and I really value building relationships with everyone I work with. So just getting to know everyone’s names, learning that little thing about everyone I work with.
POWHF: Do you have a favourite patient memory?
Dr. Shivam Agrawal: There’s many, many patient experiences that I’m very fond of. But one that comes to mind is treating a very unwell person in the intensive care unit. And then we went to the laboratory and looked at their blood count, which sort of helped us sort of put all the pieces together and make the diagnosis of a very serious and very treatable condition. We treated the patient in intensive care for a few days. They made a very good recovery and then I remember seeing the patient a few weeks later in the clinic, their back at work, very happy and back to their normal life. And I think that’s recurring patient memory that I really enjoy. Seeing them coming through the end of it and getting back to their normal life, doing the things they enjoy.
POWHF: Lastly, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I’m an avid runner. Running is really good for clearing my mind. But then also just to keep fit. I’m currently training for a half marathon, which I’m trying to do next year. I also play a lot of squash, which is quite good. I’m also a big sports fan, so I like to watch the AFL in the winter time and the cricket in the summer.