Meet the Councillor: Q&A with Dr Ricky Arenson | AMA (WA)


Dr Ricky Arenson

Meet the Councillor: Q&A with Dr Ricky Arenson

Thursday July 20, 2023

Why did you join the AMA (WA) Council?

I’ll give you a hint, it wasn’t the pay! I’ve always been passionate about doctor advocacy and the AMA (WA) provides a great vehicle for this pursuit.

When did you decide to specialise in endocrinology and geriatric medicine and why?

The Endocrinology part was serendipitous. I was working as an SHO (RMO) in the UK. The Endocrinology Senior Registrar in the hospital wanted to do a three-month term in critical care. The Head of Department had worked with me and specifically asked for me to fill in. After three months, he asked me to stay on. I ended up loving Endocrinology.

I worked with a terrible Geriatrician in the UK and the rehab hospital was affectionately nicknamed ‘Barncoose’ after the local graveyard. I hated Geriatric medicine because of that experience. When I came to Australia, I told RPH I was happy to do any term except Geriatrics.

As a registrar, I complained to Clinical Services about their poor treatment of some of the junior doctors – they used to bully JMO’s to do extra shifts. The person I complained to took this personally and punished me by sentencing me to six months in Geriatric medicine. I ended up loving the comprehensive, holistic nature of the specialty. Also, contrary to popular belief, I’ve always found so many positive things you can do to help every elderly patient. This specialty requires a broad knowledge of medicine, psychology, family dynamics, and… laxatives.

What’s your 2023 medical focus, what are you most passionate about?

I’m passionate about the practice of medicine and its nobility. I’m very keen on good management, medical leadership, doctor advocacy, engagement, and consultation. My focus in 2023 is to help salvage public medicine from the JMO exodus, which is the greatest public health crisis I’ve witnessed since I arrived in 2002.

Tell us a little bit about yourself outside of work…

I have an amazing wife, who is a medical inventor and emergency physician, four lovely kids, and I write books, do podcasts and I’m a fitness fanatic. I hope to influence society to become more sane and less negative. I used to be a state level tennis player.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

What balance? After juggling four babies, medical work, and exams, I realised that sleep is a luxury and I learnt a lot about efficiency. Now, I work hard and I’m extremely passionate about everything I do, but my wife reminds me to stay grounded. She’s hard to impress, but I keep trying. She’s also a wonderful support. I always make time for my family, and I exercise at 5AM to avoid it interfering with our time. I take every Saturday off, so that’s good for enforcing a work/life balance and protecting family life. I recommend everyone spend a day per week with their families, without phones and work interruptions.

What’s your life mantra?

Listen, learn, and improve. Now get even better.

Who or what inspires you?

In no particular order… my religious beliefs, my family, good pizza, and trying to impress my wife.