Dr Ruth Blackham is a Consultant Bariatric & General Surgeon.
Ruth grew up in Perth and completed her surgical training in Western Australia. As a trainee Dr Blackham won a number of awards including AMA Junior Doctor of the Year in 2013 and the John Corboy Medal of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. She was also the recipient of a competitive Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship encompassing international visits to Surgeons in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, London and Singapore.
She completed a two-year dedicated Bariatric Fellowship beginning at Western Surgical Health under Professor Jeff Hamdorf, A/Prof Sue Taylor and Dr Jeremy Tan, before moving to Melbourne. Dr Blackham performed and assisted in bariatric surgery at Austin Hospital, Heidelberg under the supervision of Mr Ahmad Aly, President of the Australian/NZ Metabolic Obesity Surgery Society (ANZMOSS). During her Fellowship she was the awarded scholar of the IFSO Asia-Pacific Chapter (London) as well as recipient of the ANZGOSA Younger Fellow scholarship.
As an academic Dr Blackham has completed a Master of Surgery. Her thesis focused upon skill acquisition in laparoscopic surgery. She is a PhD Candidate focusing upon Safety and Quality in Bariatric Surgery: validation of a sleeve gastrectomy curriculum. She is also a Board member of the Australian/NZ Metabolic Obesity Surgery Society.
Dr Blackham said she chose Bariatrics as a specialty because obesity was a chronic disease — as well as a risk factor for other conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers — in Australia and she wanted to play a part in offering cures and a different way of life for patients.
She said the operations most currently used in weight loss surgery now provide an effective, durable means of weight loss and patients were very motivated because of their ability to move more easily, travel comfortably and being able to run after their kids after surgery.
Dr Blackham’s decision to start consulting from the GSSC was based on the two directors — she considers Mr Tom Bowles a mentor and inspiration and Mr Ed Yeboah is both a colleague and good friend — and a desire to help regional communities.
The statistic now is that 63 per cent of the Australian population is overweight or obese and this increases by remoteness of location.
Dr Blackham said regional areas were worse off in terms of access to multiple health services for treatment of chronic disease and bringing Bariatric services to the Great Southern region will help bring down those barriers to treatment including accessible services on a regular basis in addition to community and social support.
Dr Blackham’s regional work includes six months at Bunbury Regional Hospital where she really enjoyed her time and she is now looking forward to spending time in Albany, where she holds fond memories from wonderful holidays.
She is looking forward to exploring more areas “off the beaten track” and exploring her interest in photography where she is hoping to go hiking and take pictures of the natural landscape and sunsets with her new photographic equipment.
Several of her friends from medical school and junior doctor years have moved to Albany so she is keen to discover all the positive pulls to the region.