It is a long way from Kwinana to Los Angeles, as Pat Campbell can attest.
The Kwinana-raised woman’s hard work since moving to the US more than 30 years ago has seen her reach respected heights in her profession.
Dr Campbell is an adjunct professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Universal of California, Los Angeles/Orthopaedic Hospital.
She is a highly-respected implant retrieval specialist of orthopaedic devices, particularly hip replacements.
‘‘My job involves looking at hip and knee replacements when they’ve gone wrong, so patients that have an implant, hope they go all their lives with them, and when they have to be removed, taken out and replaced I get the ones that have failed,’’ she said.
‘‘The purpose of our lab is to find out why the implant failed and give information back to the surgeon, manufacturer and patient.
‘‘The big goal is to make them better in the future, so they last longer for more people.’’
A chance one-year hiatus in the US while she waited to start a PhD at UWA has since turned into a highly successful career.
‘‘I was given a job for a year at an orthopaedic hospital through a connection of a connection,’’ she said.
‘‘I was actually at UWA waiting to go into the PhD program. I did a bit of travelling in Europe and worked in the public service while I was waiting for my PhD to start.
‘‘I received the offer to go to the orthopaedic hospital for one year and that was 30 years ago.’’
Dr Campbell said her background in anatomy and human biology, which she studied as part of an honours degree at UWA, had helped her get a foot in the door.
After 30 years in America, Dr Campbell, a former student of Kwinana High School, admits she misses the laid-back Aussie lifestyle at times.
‘‘I miss the birds—you take the Australian birds for granted,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s just unique, and the beaches, and you miss the uncrowded beaches.
‘‘To go to the beach in Santa Monica or Venice, there’s thousands of people.’’
Returning home sporadically to visit her parents, Bill and Margaret, she has noticed Kwinana constantly changing and evolving.
‘‘I certainly notice when I come back it’s sprawled a little more and there are better roads—the high school is all new, but Medina Primary doesn’t look like it’s changed,’’ she said. ‘‘I definitely see it growing but a lot of things still feel the same.’’
Dr Campbell has also contributed heavily to a new book on hip resurfacing, with two European specialists, which is expected to be released late this year or early 2013.
‘‘One of the peaks of my career is being able to be involved on this book. We’re calling it the handbook of resurfacing,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s a special type of hip replacement that took off in a big way about eight or nine years ago.’’
Not one to rest on her laurels, Dr Campbell is hoping to entice more females into the world of orthopaedics.
‘‘To be made professor in my department is pretty high, but (my) next goal is to keep the funding coming in to keep the research going,’’ she said. ‘‘My goal would be to expand the lab and get more women through the lab and into orthopaedics. It’s still very much a man’s world.’’
Bill and Margaret Campbell said they were extremely proud of their daughter’s achievements.
‘‘When people ask how she’s doing on the ladder of success, she goes so far up it I can’t even see it,’’ Bill said.‘‘She just so unaffected. She’s just the same young lass she was when she left for America 30 years ago.’’