Meet Dr Jess Davies: tackling the real-world challenges of 'trash'

Dr Jess Davies is an anaesthetist at Austin Health, Honorary Lecturer in the Department of Critical Care and co-founder of the TRA2SH Research Network, empowering others to make real-world changes to reduce the carbon footprint of healthcare.

Dr Jess Davies

Tell us about your research?

I’m starting a PhD to explore how we can implement environmental sustainability into operating theatres, which are one of the highest carbon areas in hospitals. There is already plenty of research about the environmental and financial benefits of reducing, reusing and recycling in operating theatres so I want to explore how we can actually overcome the barriers to deliver high quality healthcare that doesn’t cost the earth.

What drew you to this field?

I never imagined I would be a researcher, but research in healthcare sustainability is very solutions focussed and I feel like I can make a tangible difference to the world. I am motivated by the daily reminders of the climate crisis we’re living in, and the very short window remaining in which we can act.

Tell us about your proudest moment in research?

I started a sustainability research network called TRA2SH (www.tra2sh.org) with my friend and colleague Dr Sophia Grobler. Our goal is to empower others to get involved in implementation and research. We hosted our first online conference last year called TRA2SHCon21 and hearing about the projects and real-world changes that junior Doctors have delivered in their own hospital was so inspiring. I felt really proud of those out there making a small change in the world. If we all did that we’d make a huge difference, especially in healthcare. I’m proud to be a part of a collegiate and collaborative research space that values sharing ideas and working together.

Imagine you’ve just received a $10m unrestricted grant. What would you use it for?

$10m would go a long way towards transforming our currently carbon-heavy healthcare services into a circular economy with a reduced carbon footprint. We could expand our network and educate widely so that planetary impact can be an accepted part of clinical decision making, just like we do with patient safety and financial costs. I would also fund every single emerging researcher to build more eco-leaders!

What’s something about you that most people don’t know?

I love ceramics… I am a mad potter on the weekends!

Any final words?

TRA2SH is coordinating its 3rd Operation Clean Up day on April 22nd. It's a day of engagement aimed at multidisciplinary teams finding solutions to our operating theatre’s large waste production and carbon footprint.

We have targets to Refuse desflurane, Reduce blueys, Reuse equipment like drug trays and Recycle better by auditing your clinical waste streams. Local green champions use procurement data to feedback to their department and deliver an education campaign in the lead up to Operation Clean Up on April 22nd.

Anyone can join in and more info is available at www.tra2sh.org/ocu.

You can find Dr Jess Davies and TRA2SH on twitter.

More Information

info-critcare@unimelb.edu.au