Born and bred in Welkom, Dr Michelle van Zyl has been a rehabilitation doctor for the last 19 years at Life Pasteur Hospital, Bloemfontein, a hospital where patients who have suffered severe trauma, strokes, brain injuries or spinal cord injuries are treated. She describes her work as sometimes very taxing emotionally as they daily deal with trauma and loss, but on the other hand as extremely rewarding as they are really able to help patients regain mobility, function and quality of life.
Dr Michelle appreciates the role of a highly skilled inter-disciplinary team at this hospital, where every member plays a crucial role and regards being part of this vibrant team of nursing staff and therapists who are predominantly female, a great privilege. “I am also fortunate to be able to interact with many of the incredible female doctors, general practitioners and specialists, we have in Bloemfontein on a regular basis.”
To the question of how she successfully juggles business and family, she answers, “I try very hard to prioritise on a daily basis and this helps me to keep most of the balls in the air most of the time.” She is blessed with a caring husband and believes without the support and help she gets from him and her two wonderful children, who are both very independent and conscientious, she would not be able to cope.
Dr Michelle spent 2000 working as a resident medical officer in various hospitals in England, which she feels was the best decision of her life. She describes the experience as life changing, as she was able to gain a new perspective on challenges faced in all countries regarding healthcare delivery. She has her Bible and a book on her bedside table at all times. “Apart from being an avid reader, I am also a keen photographer, which is really my artistic outlet. I never miss my early morning pilates class once a week, as this and really good coffee make me an altogether nicer person to work with,” she smiles.
Dr Michelle handles pressure and challenges by remaining friendly and humble, “as we are only who we are by the Grace of God.” A tip she would give to survive a global pandemic is: “Take life day by day. Celebrate the successes, no matter how small and make use of every opportunity that you are given,” and to young female businesswomen she says, “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”
Dr Michelle van Zyl, Rehabilitation Doctor, Life Pasteur Hospital, 051 522 6601