Realize a long-standing ambition
At the age of 13, Patrishia Bordbar left her home in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war, lived and studied for two years in Germany, then moved to Australia. Even at this young age, she was determined to become a surgeon.
“When we immigrated to Australia in the 1980s, it really seemed like a place where you could pursue your dreams – I felt nothing was impossible or off limits for me,” says Patrishia.
“I am very lucky to be doing what I have always wanted to do. Surgery is my job, my responsibility and my passion.
Patrishia’s path until today
Patrishia was first accepted into dentistry at the University of Melbourne. Her fate quickly changed when, as a dental student at the age of 17, she attended a presentation by Professor Bruce Levant, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. “I didn’t know exactly what an oral and maxillofacial surgeon did,” she says, “but when he showed us how he worked with cleft lip and palate, cancers, gunshot wounds – as corny as it may seem, I fell in love… I was sold.
Thus began an extraordinary career that has transformed hundreds of lives and yet one that she considers her privilege.
However, to practice in the field, Patrishia found that she would need degrees in dentistry and medicine, as well as specialized surgical training. Undaunted, she set out to win exactly those.
Driven by determination
“I followed every step,” she says.
“At the age of 22 I was a senior maxillofacial surgeon in England,” she says. “I had agreed to work for free during my first month when I had no money. Luckily, I had a credit card with an $8,000 limit – a lot of money in the 1990s – so I used it to cover my flight and all my expenses. I was paid, of course – they had just put me on probation – but without this credit card, I would never have been able to access this training opportunity.
Later, when she applied to enter her chosen field of surgery, it also helped that she got top marks in the College Part I exams.
In Australia, oral and maxillofacial surgery is such a specialized field that full-time hospital positions are almost non-existent. In order to perform the full range of surgery, surgeons like Patrishia work in both public and private healthcare systems.
“My work in the public system is very rewarding, as I have the privilege of treating patients with complex facial abnormalities and trauma within a multidisciplinary team,” she says. “On the other hand, in Australia it is primarily the private system that deals with patients requiring elective treatment for conditions of the mouth, face and jaw.”
The path to own practice
The journey to start her own private practice began when Patrishia joined a large group practice, where she also had the opportunity to learn how to run a business.
“Nobody teaches you the business side of work when you go to medical school,” she says.
Ten years ago, when Patrishia was pregnant with her second child, she began looking for a suitable place for her own practice.
“We opened the doors to our practice, OralMax Surgeons, in 2016,” she says. “Finding the right location was key – we have a very welcoming and modern practice environment, located right in the heart of Melbourne on Collins Street.”
Patrishia’s advice to anyone looking to establish their own practice is to think ahead and be aware of emerging trends in order to future-proof the business. Although it could not predict pandemic-related workflow changes, OralMax Surgeons was well-equipped to deal with the resulting digital transformation, including telemedicine, virtual surgical planning and advanced technologies. 3D printing. Even before the pandemic, Patrishia regularly planned her surgeries in collaboration with software engineers in the United States and Europe.
Patrishia has worked with NAB for over 25 years and views the relationship as an important business partnership.
“The most important thing for me is knowing that if I tell my banker, ‘We have to make this happen’, and explain what I want to do, as long as it makes business sense, NAB will support me. as a partner,” she said. said.
Have a global impact
By restoring form and function, Patrishia is able to improve her patients’ quality of life, which she says is the most rewarding aspect of her career. She is also passionate about training future generations of surgeons and is committed to giving back to the profession through her professional leadership roles.
“My journey has taken me around the world and I’ve had the chance to live, visit and work in many places that have a very different experience from here,” says Patrishia. “I had the privilege of visiting India and volunteering there as a surgeon, treating patients with cleft lip and palate. I now train surgeons from all over the world, including India, to develop their skills and knowledge.I value the global connections I have developed.
A happy life
Patrishia considers herself very lucky in terms of the work she does and the support she receives.
“There is sometimes the stereotypical perception that women, especially those from other cultural backgrounds, have few opportunities,” she says. “Likewise, this surgery is a boys club. Overall I didn’t experience this.
“I have had fantastic support from my family as I pursue my career. Likewise, I have enjoyed the mentorship and support of my senior colleagues during my surgical journey. Now I aim to provide the same encouragement and mentoring the next generation.
“My final piece of advice to anyone considering a career in surgery is to be prepared to work hard and put in long hours, but be sure to schedule breaks.” For Patrishia, it’s regular trips, swimming and skiing in her spare time.