North Shore Private Hospital
Part of Ramsay Health Care


Vanessa Sammons Q and A

Mar 08, 2019

North Shore Private Hospital today celebrates International Women's Day - a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

The International Women's Day 2019 campaign theme of #BalanceforBetter is a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world.

North Shore Private values the contribution of all doctors and staff and today we asked Dr Vanessa Sammons some questions about her achievements and challenges and what balance means in her life.

Dr Vanessa Sammons is a Neurosurgeon at North Shore Private Hospital, treating all neurosurgical conditions, but with a particular interest in Peripheral Nerve Surgery.

Q. What did you study?

VS: Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at the University of Sydney then I went on to specialise in Neurosurgery. When I completed my training I went to Canada to do sub-specialty fellowship training in peripheral nerve surgery. It’s a long road, and it wasn’t always pretty along the way, but definitely worth it in the end.

Q. What was your first job?

VS: My first job ever was umpiring netball when I was still in school. My favourite ever job was when I was in Medical School and I was a bartender at the Basement (a live music bar in Sydney), I saw so many great musicians.

Q. What women do you draw inspiration from?

VS: I don’t ever remember consciously drawing inspiration from people, but I rather think people just affect my soul a little and it goes from there. One of these people is Muriel Errington. Muriel was born in 1901 and I met her when she was 100. In the 1920s she began learning the saxophone, which would have been very unusual then (it is still reasonably so now) and she formed part of an all-female jazz band playing all around Eastern Australia. The depression ended the jazz music scene and in 1929 the group disbanded. She married and never worked again, and whilst she had a wonderful life, those jazz-playing years remained her fondest memories. She said to me one of my goals in life should be finding things that truly give me joy and warm my heart.

Q. What is the one thing you would love to do if you had the opportunity?

VS: I have never looked at anything as out of reach, I have always thought that if I wanted something enough I would create the opportunity. I look forward to finding the right time to visit Antarctica, I would also love to get to Everest Basecamp.

Q. Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

VS: Never to lose my “unnatural passion”.

Q. What is one thing you would say to your younger self?

VS: That all your life people around you will behave in a way that you wish they wouldn’t. Know that they are driven by a different soul, so carry on, and do what you think is right. And don’t give up, ever.

Q. Work life balance & how do you achieve this?

VS: I am coming to the realisation that a balance isn’t possible if you are aiming for perfection on both sides. I try my best in all aspects of life and if I drop the ball in some area I put a little more focus into that for a time until I am confident that the ‘balance’ is a little more 'right'.