Creative Careers in Medicine

My creative career and medicine

I have always felt it a privilege to help patients in my medical career, but I have also always loved anything involving a needle and thread.

Whenever I had significant exams pending I would buy material as an incentive, but would usually end up starting a coat or hat the night before the exam.

Following completion of the MRACOG in the late 80’s,I ran a dressmaking business combined with part of a private order dressmaking certificate at TAFE at night school. Meanwhile I retrained in more generalist medical practice, whilst assisting in theatre in obstetrics and gynaecology.

A move to the country in 1994 put this on hold for a while, as I worked long hours as a rural GP, and then after FACRRM and FACNEM ran a solo medical practice in Nutritional and Environmental Medicine for 12 years. I was also on the Board of ACNEM for not quite 10 years.

creative career in medicine

But I never stopped sewing or tailoring in my free time, making wedding dresses and other special occasion outfits for friends and family, and was especially pleased to read this was helping my vision!.

Most of my holidays were either a medical or millinery workshop.

Inspired by my dressmaker grandmother Myra I established AnnieandMyras in 2014, as tribute to my two grandmothers Anne and Myra whom had taught me to sew, having made my first dress at the age of 8.

Having started millinery at TAFE in 1990, I re-trained and was delighted to be welcomed as a member of the Riverina Millinery Association in 2016.

Two years ago I made the decision to move AnnieandMyras to the forefront and leave my medical career on hold.

My studio had been purpose built to run small group workshops from my beautiful rural town but I had lived there whilst running my medical practice.

It was so exciting to be able to use it again for its original purpose. An old examination couch was re-purposed as a very useful ironing board, and there are multiple uses for old artery forceps and suture holders in millinery!.

I love spending my time in the studio making patterns and constructing bespoke items and have recently started back doing some menswear and mens tailoring. I am soon to re-brand part of the business and name to accomodate more bespoke menswear, now that I have been able to re-source some of the habadashery items required.

By running small group workshops I am hoping to build social engagement within my small community, and also ensure that skills are not lost.

Recently there has been renewed interest through the slow fashion movement and the ethical fashion movement #whomademyclothes. This also marries with my interest in environmental health in trying to reduce some of the waste in fashion production by trying to use vintage fabrics and making clothes designed to last and making beautifully sculptured silk flowers from silk offcuts.

One of my favourite themes is hosting and running workshops where small groups (men and women, young and old) can spend a weekend away sharing stories around a table whilst being able to take something home they have made.

This more creative approach to health is where I see my future vision for health promotion, and whilst continuing my CME, I am somewhat ambivalent about a return to clinical practice.

Jennie McKern