Episode 9: Dr Lucy Obolensky | Nov 2018


It's been a while but this podcast was definitely worth the wait.

In this episode, Shubs talks to an inspiring GP and expedition medic, Dr Lucy Obolensky. 

Remember, if you're in a hurry, check out the Shownotes below to skip to where you want to, but a full listen is highly recommended!

Lucy is a legend (though she would never admit it) in the field of remote and wilderness medicine. From having set up very successful health projects in Kenya during medical school, to being medical advisor and leader on many expeditions with British Exploring Society, Lucy (also a mum of 2) tells us about her journey into global and remote medicine.

Lucy and Shubs meander through her experiences on mountain expeditions, making tough decisions under pressure and keeping a cool head when in the field or on location. We also find out how she balances all these commitments with being a GP, Postgraduate Course lead at Plymouth University, head of a global health consultancy, ED staff grade and a mother. 

Perhaps the most exciting of Lucy's experiences was as a medic with the film crews of Planet Earth, Blue Planet and the forthcoming Our Planet. We hear what it is like to be responsible for the safety of Sir David Attenborough on location. Play the video clip below to get a glimpse of what it was like for Lucy to be involved in filming the epic opening scene of Planet Earth 2 high above the Alps (see if you can spot her) - If the player below isn't working for you - watch on YouTube























We were also joined by Lydia (pictured above, a final year Imperial College medical student) be part of the conversation and offer her insights into spending a week with GPs in varied roles. It was really insightful to hear about how perceptions in med school can be changed with innovative placements like this. She understood that it didn't have to be a choice in primary care - it was possible to be innovative, entrepreneurial or do something different and not have to leave practice. It is so encouraging to know that medical schools are working hard to change perceptions. 

So much was gained from speaking to Lucy. Here are a few take home points:

- Say yes to opportunity

- The beauty of GP is that we get to do our core work as well as develop other interests/passions

- It's hard to juggle lots of things, include your family in decisions (if you are happy, they are more likely to be happy)

- There are lots of opportunities to make a difference in global health, but also remember options locally if you can't get the time away

Feel free to add these to your own thoughts and reflections for your Appraisal CPD log. 

The box below has some organisations that might help as a resource or source of opportunity/information:



Watch this space for opportunities to bring together specialists and generalists in the field of global/migrant Health - check out myGPevents in the coming months. We will post more about this on this page in due course. 

A huge shout out and thanks to Camille Gajria for introducing us, to British Exploring Society who allowed us to record at the Royal Geographical Society and to Imperial School of Medicine. 

Please share with your friends or on social media if you have enjoyed this podcast. We would love more primary care professionals to listen to this, as well as med students and anyone interested in global and remote medicine. Also, please subscribe on iTunes (rate us with five stars if you think it is deserved) or on Soundcloud. 




Lucy intro and how she got into Global/remote health 2:00

Early projects - medical charity work in Kenya  3:10

Journey into expedition medicine and British Exploring Society - 8:10

Challenges on expeditions and things to consider when things get tough! 10:15

Abbreviation: HACE - High Altitude Cerebral (O)Edema

Lucy on being on clinical game to feel confident, competent, taking on jobs that are within your skillset and not outside your limitations 

‘Goldfish bowl effect’ - Lucy reflects on decision making in the field - made complex with ‘noise’ of relationships and the situation - we talk about how this relates this to the pragmatic way we might  practice with our patients back home. 14:50 

Technology/communications allowing a “global hive mind” - phone a friend advice!  19:30


Experiences being the medic for film crew and Sir David Attenborough - Planet Earth, Blue Planet, etc 22:00

Longer filming trips - eg Antarctica for Blue Planet - how to keep sharp over 5 weeks on a boat - 25:00

Filming opening hot air balloon shot over the alps for Planet Earth - what was that like? 29:00

Lucy’s own GP work/ED work - how does her global/remote/expedition work impact on local clinical work in GP/ED/air ambulance - learning from paramedics - 31:30

We talk here about being able as GPs to do our core work, but also able to develop other passions 

How to balance spinning lots of plates, being a parent, making sure you do things well without attenuating mental stamina/effectiveness - 37:08

On being a parent whilst going on expeditions, taking kids along! If you’re happy your kids will be happy!

Priorities changing over life - GP allowing us to ride those changes

What inspires you? Lucy talks about a Kenyan volunteer nurse she worked with who inspired her. 43:00

Lucy’s advice for clinicians interested in getting involved in remote/global/expedition medicine 46:00

Say yes to opportunities, put yourself out there

Global health opportunities on our doorstep 46:39

Lydia (ICSM student) on her portfolio placement broadening the view of what is possible in GP as a career 50:40

Not a choice between one type of career and another




  • Black LinkedIn Icon

2GPs in a Pod © Copyright 2018 | Official sounding words here