Dinesh Pailipana is Queensland first doctor who is a quadriplegic. He works in one of the busiest emergency rooms in the country. After his car accident, Dinesh remembers having a conversation about continuing medical school.
“Even when I was in the ambulance from the accident scene going to the hospital, I was talking to the doctor in the ambulance and I was talking about medical school and how I was going to get back into it,” he says.
Almost four years after his accident, Dinesh returned to medical school to finish as the first quadriplegic doctor in Queensland and the second in Australia. However, not everyone was as optimistic about Dinesh’s career path as he was. He states there were times where people would pull him aside and talk about him doing something different than becoming a doctor because it was going to be really difficult.
“It came to a point where I thought, I'd regret it for the rest of my life if I don't give (medical school) a shot and I just came back.”
However, Dinesh does face some challenges during his work day. He says he does have a hard time breathing because his lungs do not work properly. But, Dinesh has only used one sick day saying that it has to be something pretty bad to keep him from work, he just gets on with it.
“In a big busy emergency department with lots of staff, his value is enormous, (Dinesh) works night duty on lates, on days the same as everyone else. You don't actually realise after a while, you forget about his disability, Dinesh is just the guy in the wheelchair doing all the work, and he does heaps of work. I think it's important to embrace with disabilities who have to perform at a higher level than all the rest of us just to get through it. It's quite an inspiration to staff and it's a valuable lesson to everyone that works with Dinesh how amazing he is,” says Associate Professor David Green who is Gold Coast Health's emergency medicine director.
“I've never ever, not once, which even surprises me had a patient that reacted oddly to me being their doctor.”
Dinesh is surprised he has never had a patient that had a problem with his disability. He has plans of starting a charity called Doctors With Disabilities Australia with the goal of making medicine more inclusive and accessible to everyone.
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