Dr. Jan Maree Davis retires – we wish her well

Written by Camille Attwood | 16 Aug 2023

It is always worth noting the achievements of any Head of Department. Perhaps, it is especially worth noting when that Head of Department was also the first Consultant in that discipline in the hospital. By definition, they were there at the beginning. By definition, they set the tone. And by definition, they shaped the future. All of this is true of Jan Maree Davis. Not only are we, who have worked with her, blessed to have been part of that story she shaped but the entire hospital reaped a dividend from Jan Maree’s vision and leadership – firstly here within the Cancer Care Centre and later in multiple other departments.

Setting a tone was important because all else flowed from that. Jan Maree  brought the best of the modern discipline of Palliative Medicine to this hospital. Meticulous in approach, broad in scope, reliable in expertise. A capacity to identify not only the physical but also the psychospiritual dimensions of an illness. An exemplary ability to communicate to patient, family, nursing, allied health staff and to medical colleagues. All of these qualities have been great models for the doctors you have trained.

And all of this was combined with another quality – to never let pass an opportunity to teach. To teach formally and informally. To teach to groups. To teach to the fortunate individual. For Jan Maree, perhaps uniquely, combined her skills as a Physician with her training as a teacher, her first profession. When she teaches, she shines. All of us have been influenced by that.

Consistent across decades of work was Jan Maree’s drive towards improvement. And in Palliative Care, as a young discipline, improvement often meant innovation. Creativity is perhaps undervalued in medicine. It should not be. And when your Head of Department has creativity much good flows.

Here I wish to acknowledge the remarkable Palliative Care Nurses you worked with over these years who were integral to that joint endeavour.

And so, all of us who have worked with Jan Maree have mixed emotions. Completely understanding why you are resigning but, equally, sad, you are doing so. Understanding, because of the nature of this job – Head of Department in any Tertiary hospital, but also the unique demands of the discipline of Palliative Medicine. The privileged position of caring for patients and their families at the most intense time in their lives lies side by side with the effect on ourselves. To be there we need to be there, to be present we are also exposed. And therein lies the paradox of the discipline.

And so, Jan Maree thank you for all you have done here at St George. From the beginning, you brought wide learning, subtlety and alertness of mind, wisdom  and great courage. Each of these you possess in ample measure. Jan Maree, you have created a thriving department and a better hospital and all of us here owe a great deal to you.

Dr. Frank Brennan