Jason is Director of Vascular Surgery at Austin Health which is a large public hospital in Melbourne where he also runs a 3D printing laboratory where they make anatomical models and engineering prototypes for themselves and other parts of the hospital. He has an honorary academic appointment at The University of Melbourne where he is involved in medical and surgical teaching and research, as well as biomedical engineering, informatics and medical device development. Jason has been passionate about driving our entire profession forward and serving our patients well — as part of that he has served in leadership roles in public and private hospitals, at RACS, AMA Victoria, and represented surgeons at State and Federal Government committees, at ASUM and other organisations. Jason strongly believes that participation, representation, and diversity go hand in hand which is why he encourages all of his colleagues to take part in clinical governance and leadership opportunities both within their hospitals and in the broader community. Simply being there makes a huge difference to the tone and direction of conversation and decision-making. He was just preparing to wind down as Treasurer of AVT, when the ANZSVS Treasurer position became available… so here goes nothing!
What operation do you enjoy doing the most and why?
I have to say that a carotid endarterectomy is the most technically satisfying operation — but I certainly would not be alone amongst vascular surgeons in saying that. In a sense it is a great metaphor for Vascular Surgery — it is only possible because of the key historical advances in anaesthesia, surgical materials and heparinisation and is very much an operation that almost nobody but Vascular Surgeons are foolhardy enough to do. It requires good knowledge of local anatomy and requires excellent surgical technique to perform safely and effectively, and is a nice, clean, neat operation that comes in a neat package with good “endpoints". It does comes with significant risk that can be managed by good preparation and good perioperative care, and it has been extensively studied with a solid evidence base which is continually being reviewed. It requires multidisciplinary management, which brings us closer together with other specialties, and is a procedure that remains in evolution, much like our specialty.
Choose a movie title for the story of your life.
I’m hanging out to watch Tenet once lockdown finishes, so I’m a bit caught up in Christopher Nolan movies at the moment. Maybe “Interstellar” because what happens in the movie is both existential and mundane, and super confusing even at the very end. Somehow things work out (sort of) but Coop has no choice but to go for the ride and make decisions based on his gut instincts and values. His daughter Murph is the one who really saves the day, but he was critical to helping her get there. I’m trying hard not to give away spoilers here.
What are three things still left on your bucket list?
Get a bucket. Fix the hole. Fill the bucket.
If you could have any one superpower, which would you choose?
It would be the power to eat unlimited amounts of gelato without getting brain freeze or fat. Though seriously, if I had one superpower it would be to stay fit without having to exercise. I don’t need super strength, but I hate being tired and fatigued after a long day’s operating or a long weekend on call. We all take it for granted that this is the lifestyle we lead and that the physical strain of surgery takes its toll on our bodies — but it shouldn’t.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?
What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?
"A healthy patient is one that hasn’t had enough tests.” One of my old Gen Med tutors told me this and I think it is true to everything. There is a story behind everything and everyone, but we all have to make a decision about when to dig and when to stop looking. Sometimes there is an important mystery that you have to solve. Sometimes you have to accept things at face value and let sleeping dogs lie. Nobody ever teaches you this — we all just have to work it out for ourselves, but the decision is ultimately based on a combination of the situation in front of you and your own personal curiosity and passion.