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Please allow me to introduce myself.

Dave Sainsbury

MBBS, University of Adelaide 1978
B.Med.Sc(Hons, NeuroAnatomy), University of Adelaide 1974
Clinical Associate Professor, Acute Care Medicine, University of Adelaide
Fellow, Governor’s Leadership Foundation, 2009
Graduate, Generating Transformative Change, Pacific Integral, 2012

You could dig into the details on linked-in

I have now retired (Feb 2017) from clinical practice, after 30 years as a staff anaesthetist at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide.

My time is now devoted to Medical Leadership at clinical and professional levels.
The practical application is through education and programs on communication & teamwork for health workers in general and doctors in particular.

My continuing research interest is centred on dual process theory.  And there are a couple of blog entries in this category.  The article on dual process theory in surgery gives a simple introduction and application.

Formal biography

Writing one’s own biography notes is an embarrassing task.
This was originally written for my application for the governor’s Leadership course.
Since updated and continued in the third person.

David Sainsbury is a baby boomer of the 1952 vintage, born in New Castle on Tyne.  His father, John Sainsbury, immigrated to Australia in 1957 to take up the position of Chief Engineer for the South Australian Harbor’s Board.  On arrival David was taken straight to the Children’s Hospital for treatment of a degenerative hip disorder that had left him in a wheel chair the year before.  Over the next 2 years he learned to walk again under the care of Sir Dennis Patterson.  After 3 years at St Theresa’s Primary school in Brighton, David was taught by the Marist Brothers at Sacred Heart College, Somerton.

This moderate education and conservative upbringing were overwhelmed by the halcyon hedonism of university life in the 1970’s.  The Vietnam Moratorium, oral contraception and recreational drugs created a uniquely radical atmosphere.  The Chief Justice was reading Greek poetry on the Barr Smith lawns; the safari suited premier was riding elephants in the zoo.  In addition to this worldly education David completed a medical degree, an honours degree in anatomy, was an active member of the Adelaide University Dramatic Society and started an electric folk band, Tintagel.

Following graduation, David toured with the band for 6 months.  When that dream floundered under the weight of adult responsibilities, David moved on to work as a project officer with unemployed youth in the Northern Suburbs.  After 6 months David reluctantly returned to medicine as an intern at Modbury hospital.  He was drawn in to anaesthetics with its mix of engineering, science and patient care.  The next 5 years brought a mortgage, marriage, two children, and a fellowship in Anaesthesia.

David returned to the Children’s Hospital as a doctor rather than a patient in 1986.  After 2 years he took his family to Rotterdam for a year while he furthered his training in Paediatric Anaesthesia at Sophia Kinderziekenhuis.  David returned to South Australia and has remained a staff anaesthetist at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.  There he spent two thirds of his waking hours over 30 years. until his retirement in 2017.  The hospital provided him with an education in life at a very personal level, caring for families in crisis.

David met his second wife, Helen, in the Intensive Care Unit.  Together they have provided anaesthetic support for surgical outreach programs in Timor and Indonesia through OSSAA (Overseas Specialist Surgical Association of Australia).  They share a love of music, David returning to the acoustic guitar after 20 years.  They also share a love of photography, which Helen translated into a new career. Helen Roberts Photography.  Helen has now transitioned to her 3rd career as a soul midwife.

David was director of the Department of Children’s Anaesthesia for 5 years.  In 2008 he was the public face of a campaign to recruit more doctors into the public hospital service.  From the cloistered world of the operating theatre David was pushed into the practicalities of the media, political and adversarial negotiation.  He was drawn to the Governor’s Leadership Foundation program to further his education in the world beyond the four walls of an operating theatre.

The GLF program inspired David to join the council of the South Australian Salaried Medical Officers Association (SASMOA) with a vision of a union that would respect and represent the special needs of the diverse range of salaried medical practitioners.  He has served as Vice President and President. High on his agenda was networking with other medical organisations in South Australia.  This resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding with the AMA and close engagement with Doctors HealthSA.

The GLF introduced David to the developmental theories of Robert Kegan.    This lead to graduation from the first course in developmental leadership outside America, Generating Transformative Change.  This program stressed community engagement in areas ranging from self understanding  to organisational networking.

In order to facilitate networking opportunities between doctors peak bodies in South Australia, David has been an elected council member and president of the South Australian Medical Officers Association,  a panel member of the South Australian Medical Practitioner’s tribunal,  an appointed member of the Clinical Senate SA health and a general council member of AMA SA.

David has taken his experience and training into various clinical teamwork and  human factors programmes.  He has been a master trainer in the SA Health TeamSTEPPS program, instructor in the national Teaching on the Run course, an instructor in 2 programmes with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons; Non Technical Skills for Surgeons and Training in Professional Skills, facilitator and coach in the ‘Leading Clinicians’ program for SA Health.

With retirement from clinical practice, David looks forward to developing his interests in leadership and personal development in both public and private sectors.


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