Peta Skilbeck: alumni profile
You graduated in 1996, what has been your path since leaving CCGS?
My path since leaving CCGS has been a long road! I completed my degree in Medical Science at the University of Sydney in 1999 and was then accepted into the Graduate Medical Program in 2000. This was a four-year program. After finishing my university education, I started working as an Intern at Gosford Hospital and then went on to to the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle to complete my Obstetrics and Gynaecology training. Some of this training was part time because I went on maternity leave when I had my two children, Isabella (13 now) and Luca (7 now). I achieved my Fellowship of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 2016. It was that same year the Intuition Private Obstetrics and Gynaecology was started.
Why did you choose obstetrics?
I chose this profession because I love the idea of pregnancy and birth. From a very young age, I have wanted to be a doctor, and there was no other area of medicine which was as fascinating to me. I have also struggled myself with being able to fall pregnant and have required fertility treatment to help me conceive my son. I am also passionate about helping couples struggling with infertility.
What do you enjoy most about supporting women during pregnancy and birth and caring for newborns?
Carrying a baby and giving birth is one of the most amazing events in your life for both the parents and indeed the whole family. That moment where the parent(s) lay eyes on their baby for the first time is magical. To be a part of that very intimate moment is an honour. Bringing new life into the world and helping parents achieve that is lovely. I imagine the motherhood and birth journey, while exciting, is also anxiety-provoking for a lot of reasons. To form a relationship of trust with the woman giving birth, in particular, is a wonderful job to perform. I also just really actually love the process of birth.
What would you share with students considering following this career?
I would say that while the rewards are immense, it does affect your lifestyle to a huge degree. When you are on-call, you are expected to be present and available 24/7. You could not do this job well without being incredibly passionate. I also have an amazing support network - my husband, my children, and their grandparents - who are also on-call 24/7. In addition, my support team at Intuition Private and Gosford Private Hospital are fantastic and will always go out of their way to help me spend all my efforts on supporting women's health.
Being on call 24/7 must mean downtime would look very different for you, how do you like to relax?
The on-call is difficult because you cannot plan anything, and you never know when a baby might choose to come! I love reading, building LEGO and playing my cello. These are all activities that can be easily abandoned if an emergency arises. For any longer holidays, my family must plan at least nine months in advance to have the time off, so that patients are aware that I am away for that period of time. I can take small breaks (ie weekends) if I organise one of my wonderful colleagues to cover for me.
Your own children attend CCGS. How did it feel to be back on school grounds again, 17 years after graduating, this time as a parent?
It was exciting to see how the school has changed over this time. However, there were many familiar things as well. I went to CCGS for Year 11 and 12 and I think it is nice to see both my children start there in Junior School. The facilities and grounds have always been amazing. I am very grateful that I can give my children such a wonderful and holistic education. It is also lovely to see some of my teachers now teaching my children.
What is one piece of advice you would give to your high school self?
I would say to my high school self - "Enjoy your school years" because they fly by. It doesn't feel like long ago that I was graduating Year 12. I have many amazing memories of friendships, camping, playing school netball and learning. I would also recommend enjoying those experiences as much as possible because the magic of childhood and adolescence and the freedom from responsibility is something that as a grown-up you will miss.