Aussie Simon Reid knows how to rock a doctors’ uniform – but he does it with a pretty cute twist.
The Sydney native works as a Paediatric Registrar at Sydney Children’s Hospital.
To put his patients at ease, he often pairs his stethoscope with amazingly colorful cartoon shirts.
Think everything from SpongeBob to Elmo to Captain America.
That is, when the hot 28-year-old isn’t rocking the Disney princess look…
‘I recently looked after a cute little 6-year-old girl with cancer who was terrified of needles,’ Simon tells us.
‘I convinced her to let me do the blood tests by promising to wear a princess dress and a tiara. So Doctor Simon became Princess Simone and she giggled the whole way through the procedure!’
Here, Simon – who plays water polo in his spare time – speaks to Gay Star News about his amazing career, which he sums up with the following quote: ‘I like to think of myself as standing on the crossroads between doctor and mischief-making pirate!’
You’re a fully qualified doctor, but training to specialize as a paediatrician. How did you decide you wanted to be a kids’ doctor?
I’m not quite sure how I ended up in medicine, but I remember that in high school I only had two criteria for my future job – I needed to be working with people and I needed to be doing something different every day. Desk jobs aren’t really my thing. So once I figured out that medicine was my thing, paediatrics seemed like the perfect fit.
I spent seven years at university, but the study never really stops. I still have exams to do as a doctor, plus I’m doing my Masters in Public Health on top of my day-to-day work. This is my fourth year as a doctor and I’m still loving it. I haven’t looked back.
I’ve loved worked with kids since I was a teenager coaching gymnastics and swimming. I worked with disabled kids at the time; I really put my heart and soul into it and I found it so rewarding.
The parents told me I had a knack of getting the most out of kids and I think that steered me towards paediatrics.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
I focus on all the medical needs kids might have from the minute they are born right the way through until they finish high school.
A typical day for me is really varied, and often just depends on who arrives in the ambulance bay or walks through the front door of the hospital.
I attend all the high-risk births, such as premature deliveries or Caesarean sections to make sure the baby is born healthy and doesn’t need any help breathing. I also look after the nursery, where babies are admitted to help them with feeding, weight gain, jaundice or infections.
I see children in the Emergency Department and admit the sick ones requiring further treatment to hospital. I then look after them on the children’s ward; we currently have patients on the ward with pneumonia, meningitis, seizures, head injuries and a baby with an infected belly button, among other things.
I also often see children in the outpatients’ clinic who have less acute issues like behavioural problems, eczema and asthma.
What is the best part of working with kids?
Working with kids gives me the ability to put my own brand of fun on my job. I can dress up, I can tell jokes, I can do cartwheels down the hallway. Because at the end of the day, sick kids are still kids. They’re curious, they’re hilarious, they’re adorable.
They just take life as it comes and generally aren’t all that fazed by illness. There’s something quite pure about that; it really resonates with me.
I can forgive a kid for pretty much anything, even the kid that didn’t want to get discharged from hospital, so she swallowed her house keys!
What is the most stressful aspect of your job?
I get quite emotionally invested in my patients; every child I treat is like a niece or nephew to me.
Some doctors believe that you need to build an emotional wall to protect yourself but I don’t think that’s true.
As a kids doctor, I am a part of the most emotional moments in any parent’s life.
I get to share the highs with them and be there for them through the lows. Sure, I’ve had truly awful days where I’ve gone home in tears but I’ve also had some profoundly moving moments that I would never have experienced if I hadn’t opened myself up to these families and shared their journey with them.
What has been the most powerful moment of your career?
It was when I had to tell a 15-year-old girl that she had leukaemia. I’d never told someone that they had cancer before, let alone a child.
This kind of conversation would usually be had by an oncologist, but it was late Saturday night and the task had fallen to me. I was terrified.
She listened to everything I said, then looked at me with a big smile on her face and said: ‘That’s alright, I’m gonna beat it. I’m not worried!’
She was less scared of cancer than I was of telling her that she had it. It was incredible. And she did beat it, too.
Have you ever worked with trans kids?
After the Orlando Pulse shooting in June last year, I was enduring some pretty deep self-reflection and wondered what I could possibly change to make my world a little bit more LGBTI-friendly.
I thought about this nine-year-old girl who came in to the Emergency Department for something completely unrelated. It was noted to me that she was assigned male sex at birth, but had been living as a girl for some time now.
While we didn’t do anything wrong, I just felt as though we weren’t really doing enough to prove to this kid that she was safe, accepted, respected and loved.
Since then I’ve been working to make my hospital a place where our patients are celebrated for being themselves, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity.
Hospitals are meant to be refuges, where children can be free of outside burdens to allow them to heal and I really hope I can take steps to make that I reality.
What attributes do you need to be a kids’ doctor?
Those that know me well would agree that I am painfully optimistic and exceedingly upbeat!
I’m a huge believer in that whatever energy you put out into the world will be returned to you in an amplified fashion. So I always stay positive, look for the best in any situation and put my heart and soul into everything I do.
Is it hard work?
Short answer: yes. But I’m living proof that if you do what you love, it doesn’t feel like work.
Medicine has provided me with the most amazing opportunities to learn, grow, advocate, teach, travel, meet phenomenal individuals, influence social change and really make a difference. It would take a lot for me to give up my job!
What are the hours like?
At the moment I’m working shift work, so there’s a lot of night shifts, weekends and weird hours. It definitely messes with your ability to find a good work-life balance.
Is your partner flexible regarding your workload?
Yeah my boyfriend is fantastic. He knows that I get grumpy when I’m working night shifts and everyone else is out having fun, plus he supports me when I’m feeling down about something sad that has happened at work. He’s pretty damn good at cheering me up too.
Do you hope to have kids one day, and if so, how many?
No kids just yet, but I can’t wait to be a dad. My boyfriend and I keep trying but maybe we are doing it wrong?
Working with kids gives you a great insight into baby name trends though. We have recently had a run of Game of Thrones babies – little baby Tyrion was the cutest!
Where are you from?
I grew up in a beach town called Wollongong on the east coast of Australia, but moved to Sydney to study medicine.
I now live in the thick of the action. You can see the Sydney Opera House from my living room!
Do you have hobbies outside of your profession?
I play competitive water polo for the Sydney Stingers, an LGBT-inclusive water polo club. We just won gold in the Sydney Metropolitan competition– against all the straight teams! – so we are on a pretty big high at the moment. Keep an eye out for us at the Gay Games in Paris next year!