Geraldton doctor finds fulfilment by making a difference

Zoe KeenanGeraldton Guardian
Doctor Nikee Msuo in her office at the Panaceum Group, her walls filled with photos of some of the 2000 babies she's delivered in her time as an obstetrician in Geraldton.
Camera IconDoctor Nikee Msuo in her office at the Panaceum Group, her walls filled with photos of some of the 2000 babies she's delivered in her time as an obstetrician in Geraldton. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian

From untangling crocodiles caught in fishing nets in Lake Argyle to delivering more than 2000 babies in Geraldton as an obstetrician, Dr Nikee Msuo says a great deal of her life is spent working, and it needs to be fulfilling.

After 11 years at the Panaceum Group, Dr Msuo is setting off in August to study tropical medicine in the UK and returning to join the emergency department at Geraldton Regional Hospital to upskill with the hope of returning to Africa to work in aid, fulfilling a goal she set herself as a 12-year-old.

Dr Msuo was raised in Sierra Leone in Africa and Papua New Guinea, and came to Australia to attend boarding school in Brisbane.

After finishing school she took up her first job in Kununurra as a deckhand fishing on Lake Argyle.

When fishing, the net would sometimes hit a snag and as a deckhand, it was her job to deal with it.

“It was a muddy lake, so if the net got caught, it was your job to dive down and untangle the net,” she said.

Dr Nikee Msuo with a crocodile that had been caught in a fishing net during her time as a deck hand on Lake Argyle.
Camera IconDr Nikee Msuo with a crocodile that had been caught in a fishing net during her time as a deck hand on Lake Argyle. Credit: Supplied

“Crocs got tangled in the nets and you had to pull it up and out of the net. You wouldn’t know if it was playing dead or not.”

Dr Msuo later completed an electrical instrumentation apprenticeship to become one of the first female dual-trade workers, and worked at a remote diamond mine in WA.

During this time, Dr Msuo got involved with the paramedics in Kununurra as an interest outside of work.

“I started to find it more interesting than what I was doing on the mine — there was something different every day,” she said.

Itching to get back to Africa, Dr Msuo used her skills as a dual tradeswoman and paramedic to land a job with the United Nations in a feeding centre in Sudan.

“We had 200 malnourished children under five, and at the time it was the largest feeding centre in Sudan,” she said.

“The village also had 2000 of the lost boys — the children stolen through raids over the years and taken to army camps.

“I was so impressed with the resilience of these amazing people, who still managed to laugh every day.

“This experience was life-changing and consolidated a lifelong goal of going back to help again.”

A year later, Dr Msuo was back in Australia with her then-husband and pregnant with her first child.

Dr Msuo studied nursing and later studied medicine while pregnant with her second, third and fourth children.

She described her years studying medicine while pregnant as the hardest time of her life.

“In my final exam, I was pregnant with my fourth child and remember this beautiful examiner mopping my brow in between questions to stop my vomiting,” she said.

She passed the exam in the top percentage and cried with disbelief.

This experience was life-changing and consolidated a lifelong goal of going back to help again.

Sometime after beginning her new career she moved to Geraldton, where she works as a general practitioner obstetrician with the Panaceum group.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to form amazing bonds with families in Geraldton and delivered multiple kids in the same families,” she said.

However, Dr Msuo is now ready to fulfil her goal to go back to Africa and make a difference “even if it’s just one or two lives.”

“I feel more fulfilled when I am helping people. You spend a great deal of life working, you need to be fulfilled by that,” she said.

“The job you think you want to do can change. It’s not a failure, it’s just discovering more about what makes you happy.”

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