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08 Mar 2017

Dr Diana Robinson

University attended: Sydney University

Specialty: Sport and Exercise Medicine

Other career achievements/accolades/titles/positions: 

ConsultantSport and Exercise Physician (locations above) / Member Doping Control Review Board, FINA (international aquatics organisation) / Member, Anti-doping Rule Violation Panel, Australia / Chief Project Manager, Australasian College of Sport and Exercise Physicians, STP Education Projects / Chair, Curriculum Development and Review Committee, ACSEP / Member, Triathlon Australia Ethics and Integrity Panel / Ken Crichton Citation for Distinguished Service, ACSEP, February 2016 (first woman to receive the award – 7th person in 30 years)/ Court of Examiners ACSEP / Hyundai A-League Doctor to Away team, Sydney Football Club 2015 – 2017/ Chair of Training ACSEP 2005 – 2010/ ACSEP Board of Censors 2000 – 2010/ Medical Director Triathlon Australia 2003 – 2002/ Associate Editor British Journal of Sports Medicine and British Journal of Medicine Open Sports Medicine Journal /Author, Nonhormonal performance enhancing substances in sport. ( Prohibited and Legal) Service Provider, Olympic Athlete Program 1995- current / Doctor, Australian Commonwealth Games Team, 2002,/ Athlete Doctor, Sydney 2000 Olympic Games/ International Triathlon Union Doping Commission 1993 – 2003/ Chief Medical Officer, Warringah Rats Rugby Union Club 1992 – 1997/ I have also had medical roles in Dance medicine, surf lifesaving, international tennis competitions, gymnastics, rugby league, Olympic Sailing team and lectured locally, nationally and internationally in a number of areas .

What obstacles have you faced as a woman in medicine? 

Sport and Exercise medicine is a male dominated speciality, but most are generous and open-minded. The main professional sports have always been male dominated sports (until very recently) so issues can arise on occasions being female in a male change room, although this is rarely a problem these days. In the early days of training I was definitely denied opportunities on the basis of my sex.  I also lost a major sports medical administration job due to my pregnancy and motherhood. How were you able to overcome them? By maintaining a professional demeanour with a sense of humour. A sense of humour is always important in male sporting domains.  Letting your skills and knowledge speak for themselves. Occasionally the situation arises when one must stand up for themselves and that certainly has happened more than once.  In situations that are unsolvable, knowing when to move on, and find other opportunities.

What has been your career highlight to date? 

There have been a few.  Being the Medical Director for the men’s and womens’ Triathlon at the Sydney Olympic Games, when triathlon made its debut at the Olympics – so, the first medical director for this event, ever.  I love being involved in the anti-doping sphere. Overall however, receiving the Citation for Distinguished Service from the ACSEP (my peers) has been the highlight of my career.

During your training, did you ever encounter any negative gender-based comments? 

Regularly, from some of our surgical colleagues.  In one instance I was referred to as a nurse for a full morning operating list by an overseas visiting surgeon.  When I tried to explain later, after the list, that I wasn’t a nurse, I was told laughingly that it was just a joke and they had decided to “have some fun with me”.  I was a fully fledged specialist at the time. 

What commitments do you have outside of work and how challenging do you find maintaining a work-life balance? 

I have a husband and two children, now aged 15 and 18.  I have an elderly mother in Sydney and I am the only relative living nearby, so I am the epitome of the “sandwich generation".  It is very difficult maintaining work-life balance, as there is pressure not only from work, but from family, school related commitments, and other responsibilities.  Both my children have had medical issues (one with late diagnosed congenital hip dysplasia) requiring ongoing assessment and monitoring. As a SEM Physician, it is also important to “practice what you preach” so finding time to exercise regularly is a priority. I have a wide circle of friends and I have to make time and be very organised to ensure we catch up every so often.

What advice would you give to young female medical students with high career aspirations? 


Follow your dreams and don’t be scared to ask for advice, help and opportunities.  Remember to take holidays, and some time for yourself.  Balance is important. Keep fit and healthy, because you will be a better doctor if you are fit in mind and body. Seek out information, and find yourself a mentor whom you can talk to.  A mentor should be in your specialty area, have a pastoral care role, be able to advocate for you if necessary, and give you advice in difficult situations.

Published: 08 Mar 2017