September 3, 2019

Reaching Nou Heights: Dr Suzi Nou

Dr Suzi Nou describes herself as ‘an ordinary person who happens to be an anaesthetist’. She also happens to be the first Cambodian-Australian Chair of the Australian Society of Anaesthetists (ASA) and only the fifth woman to hold this post – besides being the first representative from Northern Health.

Established in 1934, the Australian Society of Anaesthetists (ASA) is the peak not-for-profit representative body of anaesthesia in Australia, with over 3,400 members across Australia. The ASA turns 85 this year.

When we asked what the rewards of this role are, Suzi didn’t hesitate to reply:

“Meeting people. I have met so many talented, passionate, motivated people from all around the world. I have met people that I may not have otherwise met, including some very experienced leaders and great thinkers.”

“It’s also very rewarding, although at times, a little intimidating to be representing Australian anaesthetists on the world stage,” Suzi adds.

This year, the ASA hosts a meeting with the Presidents and CEOs of the anaesthesia societies from the USA, UK, NZ, Canada and South Africa, and, as Suzi points out, many of them are women.

“I prepared an article for the Society’s magazine, Australian Anaesthetist, which involved me also meeting the President of the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists and the President of the Israel Society of Anaesthesiologists. I recently met the first President of the Anaesthesiologists Society of Namibia. They are all women!”

She identified the wellbeing and mental health of her colleagues as one of her priorities as Chair of the ASA. Suzi says, “Patient safety, cultural safety, psychological safety; so many things are tied to this.”

“I think good governance is something that we, and all organisations, keep striving for. I am keen to also foster leadership along with diversity and inclusion,” Suzi says.

After completing her paediatric fellowship in Melbourne, Suzi moved to Fiji as the Senior Lecturer at the Fiji School of Medicine and became Head of the Department of Anaesthesia and ICU at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva. She then moved to Cambodia and worked as an anaesthetist and intensivist at the Angkor Hospital for Children. She returned to Australia and completed a Masters of Public Health, with a focus on global health and health systems strengthening.

Suzi has instructed and led many courses in anaesthesia across Australia, Asia and the Pacific, and was commissioned into the Royal Australian Air Force in 2012. She is also a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Jake Geertsema, Director of Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine at Northern Health said, “Suzi is not only an exceptional anaesthetist, but someone we as a profession are honoured to have as our representative. She is beloved by her patients, respected by her colleagues and recognised for her contribution to anaesthetic care and education across the Asia-Pacific region. We are proud to call her a Northern Anaesthetist!”