Humans of the Hospital: Chiara Pawela

“I wanted to be a neuropsychologist for a quite a long time, even though most people don’t know what a neuropsychologist is or does. I remember in year 9 or 10 bought a book that was written by the mother of a child who had a developmental condition and that really got me interested in people whose brains work differently and I just got really fascinated with how brains work, and then ended up here.

“There aren’t very many of us – there are only roughly 200 neuropsychologists in NSW!

“Given so much of our job is assessment based, people might see that as doing some tests and think that it’s not super exciting. But it really does help people to understand themselves better and put the puzzle pieces of their brain together! It opens avenues for support and funding and to improve their day-to-day functioning by understanding themselves better. That’s definitely the most enjoyable part. In general, we tend to do a lot of detective work and we are very good at putting together the different puzzle pieces.

“All these tests give us an idea of how the brain is functioning which is something you might not necessarily see on a brain scan. A scan is sort of like looking under the hood of a car and you can see if anything’s damaged, but that doesn’t necessarily give you an idea of how the car might be driving. So we take your brain for a test run and see how things are going.

“What I really like about the role here is the variety – I’m able to work with such a diverse range of patients and medical staff/specialties. It’s rare to find a role with so many different opportunities and the culture at Westmead Hospital is really refreshing. The staff really value each other and this flows on to how patient care is provided.”

– Chiara Pawela is a clinical neuropsychologist at Westmead Hospital.

‘Humans of the Hospital’ is dedicated to the inspiring humans working at Westmead, Blacktown, Mount Druitt Auburn and Cumberland hospitals in western Sydney.