“I really feel like I got to use my whole training,” she says. “I saw the most severely injured patients I’ve ever seen. We took excellent care of people, had very high survivability, even with what we would consider—coming from an American hospital—very limited capability. You can actually take really great care of trauma patients even under those conditions.”
The events of 9/11 prompted the military to partner with the emergency medicine residency program at the Los Angeles County (LAC) + USC Medical Center to begin training medical professionals in dealing with trauma. When she returned from her deployment, Austin became the first female emergency medicine physician to be stationed at the Navy Trauma Training Center at LA County + USC.
“It was such an honor to be trusted with teaching military people before they go into challenging circumstances and really being their guide to getting ready to take care of severely injured trauma patients,” Austin says.
Austin has also partnered with Linda Lawrence, MD, to create the company Revitalize, offering individual and group coaching for female physicians looking to rejuvenate their career.
“That’s really a culmination of the last decade,” she says. “I’ve gone through some periods of burnout; I’ve worked at places that haven’t always been a great fit. But medicine needs us to stay in this profession, and there’s a lot of demands on physicians, so learning how to be better in tune with what you need to show up fully for your patients—it's hard.”
She’s grateful to be from and have attended medical school at Iowa, Austin says, because she believes the primary care foundation of medicine was a great bedrock to build upon. Citing her own experience studying abroad in India as a medical student, Austin says interacting with different cultures and health care systems makes a physician more flexible.
“I’ve worked in rural hospitals, I’ve worked in Iraq, I’ve worked in the biggest, fanciest institutions that have every subspeciality you can think of, and that’s made me extremely adaptable,” Austin says. “My first inclination when I hear about doing something different isn’t that it’s wrong. It’s, ‘Let me learn more about that. Maybe there’s something I can learn from this.’”