From porter to professor conquering medicine in Western Sydney

Blacktown Hospital Professor Golo Ahlenstiel

Working as a hospital porter and a nursing aid in 1995 was the inspiration for Professor Golo Ahlenstiel to embark on a career in medicine.

The experience of pushing patients to and from the wards in a German hospital helped Golo get an understanding of what patients expected from their doctors.

“Patients said they want to be listened to, be understood and be treated with kindness,” Golo said.

“I learnt many important lessons during this time while I was a porter and a nurse – both professions play a challenging and vital role in the delivery of patient care.  They are essential to every hospital and doctors can’t deliver quality care without them.

“Pushing beds was hard work and it was difficult to maneuverer the beds.  There is a certain skill and technique involved and it’s not as easy as it looks.”

Born and raised in Germany, Golo started his health journey in his native homeland and then travelled to the USA for a research fellowship after obtaining his PhD.  

“I worked as a porter and a nurse for more than two years while living in Germany,” Golo said.

“This is what inspired me to become a doctor and help make people’s lives better.”

After relocating from the USA to Australia, he commenced work at Westmead and Blacktown hospitals as a rotating physician trainee.

By 2012 he was well on his way as an advanced trainee to become a specialist in gastroenterology and hepatology, and divided his clinical time with a teaching role at the University of Sydney.

“It’s such a privilege to work in this field of medicine which allows me to care for complex patients with a broad variety of interesting problems,” Golo said.

“I work with an exceptionally skilled team of nurses, allied health specialists, doctors, and administrative staff and of course the porters.

“Working in teams brings out the best in everyone and the best outcomes for our patients.”

As a specialist in gastroenterology and hepatology, Golo treats common diseases such as fatty liver disease and viral hepatitis, but also investigates and treats iron deficiency anaemia and inflammatory bowel disease, and performs colonoscopies for bowel cancer screening.

“I’ll never forget the moment when we surprised a liver cancer patient by allowing them to bring their little dog to the hospital.  The sheepish grin they gave me at the sight of their super excited dog was priceless,” he said.

The Ryde resident was appointed as the Professor of Medicine for Blacktown Hospital in 2017 and since this time has established a research program for solutions in the treatment of metabolic disease.

Golo continues to share his knowledge in a teaching capacity with the University and contributes to research projects on liver disease, obesity and immunology.

The married father of two daughters will continue to steer Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals to become an academically high-level tertiary precinct providing the best care to the community and beyond.

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