Doctor of the year Mall Varvas: I have boundless trust in my colleagues and the feeling is mutual

“For me, this honour is even more important than I originally imagined it would be,” said East-Tallinn Central Hospital’s Dr Mall Varvas, who has been given the title of doctor of the year. She added that noticing, valuing and recognising colleagues is very important for all of us.

dr Mall Varvas

Photo: Raigo Pajula

“If you do one job long enough, you get into a certain routine. Today it’s definitely much harder for me to take pleasure in what I have done then it was when I had been working for five, 10, 15 years and this recognition brought back a sense of joy,” said Varvas the day after being honoured.

Mall Varvas has been working for the women’s clinic since 1990. She has been in charge of the gynaecological department for the last 24 years. Over these years, it has developed into one of the most respected and largest gynaecological surgery centres in Estonia.. Her enthusiasm and leadership has led to minimally invasive surgical techniques being adopted and successfully used in operations.

She arrived at this hospital through the hiring system as it existed back in the day, and today she is only glad that she did. “This hospital has been so pleasant – I’ve had very congenial colleagues and inspiring superiors who have allowed the hospital to develop and supported all of us in our own development.” “It’s a pleasure to work here,” said Varvas.


Photo: Raigo Pajula

Exposure to constant developments

Dr Varvas recalled that when she was hired in the 1990s, it was a period of great change for the Republic of Estonia and the Soviet Union. “The same sort of breakthrough was occurring in medicine. I got to practice many of the medical methods I had learned for only a very brief period, and then they were replaced rapidly by evidence-based methods. How we treated patients, our approach to childbirth, what medical products were used – all of this has changed dramatically,” she said.

She also recalled how in the mid 1990s, the hospital was facing a decision amidst the economic constraints of that period – whether to buy an ultrasound machine for the women’s clinic or a laparoscope for the surgical ward. “The women’s clinic made the decision at the time that the laparoscope was more essential because then we, too, could use it in the surgical department.  Once or twice a week, when the surgeons were done with their operations, we could use it to perform surgery on our patients. That was an unbelievable psychological boost.”

The development of the entire field of gynaecology and obstetrics is best characterised by the drop-in prenatal mortality. “When I was hired, 25 out of 1000 children died, but now the mortality figures are around five in 1000. It’s simply the outcome of all of our work and development. I’m very happy to have survived to see all of it – it has been so exciting,” said Dr Varvas.

A top calibre women’s clinic still has a limited room for development. Our peak is broad and it is always possible to keep on going from that summit. Naturally there are things that can be done even better, talk to even greater number of colleagues, there’s always somewhere onward to go. Our speciality is developing constantly. As long as I continue working here, there is still much for me to learn,” said Dr Varvas.



Photo: Raigo Pajula

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