Empowering diversity and inclusion in healthcare: recognising Dr Emily Flower

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As Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) celebrates International Day of People with Disability, The Pulse is recognising Dr Emily Flower, Senior Radiation Oncology Medical Physics Specialist at the Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre, and member of the WSLHD disability workforce.

Emily’s story is one of dedication, resilience, and a commitment to breaking barriers in healthcare.

Starting with a double degree in Bachelor of Applied Science (medical biophysics) and Biomedical Engineering, Emily discovered her passion for medical physics during an industry placement, which led her to focus solely on Medical Biophysics, pursuing a masters in Medical Physics.

Since 2003, Emily has been an integral part of Westmead Hospital, with her extensive experience reflecting a deep understanding of the intricacies of radiation oncology and a commitment to advancing cancer treatment.

In her role, Emily collaborates closely with radiation oncologists and therapists, ensuring the safe and optimal delivery of radiation treatment for cancer patients.

From quality assurance measurements on high-energy particle accelerators to reviewing individual treatment plans, Emily’s work is pivotal in maintaining the highest standards in cancer care.

Emily sheds light on WSLHD’s commitment to inclusivity, especially in her role as a staff member with a disability.

“The district has a disability inclusion action plan, and I am part of the employee group that advises the executive on this.”

Her recent substantial surgeries led to a secondment role, allowing her to work predominantly from home, with her management team actively planning workplace assessments and adjustments, demonstrating WSLHD’s dedication to implementing policies that support staff with disabilities.

The district has supported me as I completed a PhD whilst becoming a double amputee, and all the other surgery I’ve had.

The district’s commitment to flexible working arrangements has played a crucial role in facilitating career development for individuals with disabilities.

WSLHD’s focus on professional development is evident in resources available on the health learning platform and the intranet, aiming to enhance staff understanding of and ability to address the unique needs of patients with disabilities, aligning with the district’s CORE values.

Emily shares a powerful message:

Listen to people with a disability, and ensure that you do everything you can to ensure their safety, well-being, and equity to access opportunities.

She emphasises that embracing diversity in the workforce enhances outcomes and encourages everyone to focus on abilities rather than disabilities.

While acknowledging legal requirements for inclusion, Emily calls for continuous improvement in societal attitudes and expectations.