Saving lives around the world


Battle hardened: Commander Ian Young works at Frankston Hospital as an orthopaedic surgeon between military deployments overseas. Picture: Supplied

A SURGEON based at Frankston Hospital also leads another medical life — as a specialist medical officer in the Royal Australian Navy.

Commander Ian Young has been deployed several times to war zones such as Afghanistan and Iraq alongside missions to Papua New Guinea.

“It’s a bit of a convoluted life, but when I’m not deployed I work at Peninsula Health full time,” he said.

“I do two clinics and two or three operating lists a week – a lot of shoulder work, hip and knee, a little bit of foot and ankle work and then trauma for adults and kids.”

The trauma Commander Young sees at Frankston Hospital is a world away from the surgeries he has performed in war zones in the Middle East.

“A lot of the clinical work is amputations, ballistic wounding and then there still can be standard trauma,” he said.

He was first deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 and went back in twice in 2012, to work as a medical advisor with oversight of all Australian casualties and health personnel within the Middle East under Australian command, and then as an orthopaedic surgeon working with the US Navy which led the coalition hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

“In 2014 I was deployed as a resuscitation medical officer and orthopaedic surgeon to Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, initially on the ship and then with the Army in its field hospital.

“Last year I was back in the Middle East but this time in Iraq for six months, as the Director of Clinical Services and Orthopaedic Surgeon, at the ANZAC Hospital in Taji Iraq, which is north-east of Baghdad.”

Commander Young first joined the Navy as a medical student in his native Canada before transferring to the Royal Australian Navy in 1998 after meeting his wife, who is from Melbourne.

“Frankston was the first Australian hospital I worked in – when I transferred across I started working in the emergency department to see how the Australian medical system worked.”

Commander Young admits it can sometimes be difficult juggling the competing priorities of the Navy and Peninsula Health, but says he enjoys the challenge.

“There are only so many hours in the day and I’m married with four children ranging in age from 12 to 20 and have a dog,” he said.

“I also try to keep involved in the community, I even played my first season of AFL Footy in the over 45s last year for Parkdale.

“Mental health wise I have good support from family, the orthopaedic unit at Peninsula Health and excellent friends. I’ve been in the same neighbourhood since 2001 so I’ve known people for 16 years and that certainly helps.”

He enjoys treating an array of patients at Peninsula Health, including veterans.

“If I identify patients are veterans there’s always something we can chat about. Certainly everyone in the clinic knows my background – my hair cut gives me away.”

First published in the Frankston Times – 23 April 2018

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