Dr Oliver Florica, MD FRACS
I finished high school in ‘84 at “Lazar College”, most prestigious mathematics and physics college in Bucharest and in the country and the University at Carol Davila in ‘90, the university where the insulin was first discovered by the Romanian Nicolae Paulescu.

I started my internship in Romania and finished it in ‘92 in Johannesburg. I undertook surgical training in ‘93 at Grote Schuur Hospital and stared a Master Degree in Surgery at the University of Cape Town, where I trained in trauma and intensive care. In ‘94 I moved back to Johannesburg at Witwatersrand University where I trained in orthopaedic trauma, bone sepsis, neuro-vascular microsurgery and small joint arthroplasty.

In ‘92 I lost to crime in Johannesburg a dear friend from my first and second year at the university and at that moment I promised to myself that, in spite of the fact that South Africa was my most welcoming adoptive home country with my first opportunity I will leave.

In ‘95 I received a job offer below my training in Tasmania and I took it without regrets. Here I did a year of unacreddited surgical training in Launceston and took an intern job the following year in Hobart. In these two years I completed the USMLE to practice in the United States, I passed the surgical training exam and became a private pilot.

Between ‘97 and ‘02 I completed my accredited surgical training on the combined Tasmanian-Victorian training program finishing at Royal Melbourne Hospital and passed my fellowship exam at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. During my training I met my other half with whom I spent a quarter of a century together, a medical practitioner and decorated active officer in the Australian special forces.

It is still a mystery to me the fact that during these seven years of training in Australia I was treated almost like a qualified specialist surgeon in spite of the fact that at some stage I was occupying even an intern position. This gave me a unique opportunity to undertake one of the most comprehensive training programs with thousands of supervised surgeries in various specialties from general, plastic, orthopaedic, paediatric surgery, urology to cardiac and thoracic surgery; in fact my first patient on cardiac bypass was with Mr Hill in Hobart when I was employed as an intern. I give it to the Australian surgeons who can be very tough but at the same time fair and appreciative. I believe it is the ultimate pride to see your trainee representing you well in his professional life. I worked in approximately 55 hospitals and trained under over 300 specialists. Almost all these years I received assessments of very good and excellent in South Africa as well as in Australia. This got a bit to my head and I self proclaimed myself a surgeon of excellence.

In 2001 I received my third citizenship.

In 2002 as a newly qualified surgeon I started as a locuum surgeon at Goulburn Base Hospital. Not even a week in my new job I received a 19year old young man unconscious in emergency after falling on concrete while working in an attic. Andrew Howarth, the ‘men in the blue Nissan” was a popular promising footy star. We intubated him but the brain scan showed a very large clot compressing the brain lethally. I received an alarmed call from Canberra - “the patient is coning and he is going to die! in minutes, he needs immediate decompression but I guess that is not possible in a Goulburn” I took him into the operating room and asked for the “burr hole” tray; the reply came - we don’t have one we have not used one before; ok then give me a “Synthes drill” and a nibbler ; I drilled three holes in the skull with an ordinary orthopaedic drill and nibbled away the bone in the middle; the durra was under so much pressure that the blood clot hit the ceiling when released. And miracle, Andrew who was only intubated but not anesthetised woke up and open his eyes; we gave him an anaesthetic and finished to dress the brain wound as the retrieval helicopter landed to take him to a neurosurgical service. Today the man in the blue Nissan has a family and two daughters; he never missed an opportunity to visit me and say thank you.

moved to Sydney and soon I became director of Surgery at Baulkham Hills Private Hospital. I used to work hundred hour week and frequently be on call at three different hospital with emergency services simultaneously. My first child was born in ‘02 with me running out of theatre driving the car madly and catching the baby almost on the corridors. The second baby born in ‘04 I delivered on the front seat of my car after midnight between hospitals, on calls and surgical sessions. My wife still believes even today that that night I was trying to push the baby back inside. The baby is now a medical student and the muscle car, an environmental disaster with six litre engine and hundreds of horse power I am keeping to give it him one day.

That moment I decided to give up my administrative positions and public hospital work and move solely into private practice, prioritising the family. Little did I know at the time that there was no free day in private work. After another eight years our life sort of settled a little and we had another pair of children.

On The 31st of January 2003 I performed emergency surgery on the President of Nauru, Bernard Dowiyogo. The president suffered a life threatening condition that required immediate intervention while he was attending a reception to celebrate the national day of Nauru. The health of the president was so poor that several months prior he suffered cardiac complications while he was having minor surgery under local anaesthesia in Melbourne and subsequently had to undergo life saving cardiac surgery. In spite of all the odds he recovered after my surgery and based on this success I was asked to perform surgery on most of the affluent families of Nauru. In the following three weeks I performed over 30 major operations including emergency trauma on a 1 year old girl run over by a 4WD with rudimentary and basic surgical equipment without losing a single patient.

My mission in Nauru was to help improve surgical services in Nauru and start an endoscopy service, which I did . This was part of the medical aid Australia offer as compensation to Nauru for accepting the boat people during John Howard’s legacy.

At least for my duration the NGH that Nauruans sadly nicknamed “No Go Home” Hospital became a desired destination in a bankrupt country full of poverty.

Before leaving Nauru the president offered me the position of Nauru Surgeon, land and financial incentives to settle in Nauru. As a present he offered me a $40,000 bottle of Penfolds Grange. It was a bit of a waste because, after parading it for some time when I opened it, it was corked..

Needles to say that I donated my Nauru locum payment of $35,000 to the Australian College of Surgeons for the Pacific Island Program.

Two years later I also donated my one year income if $100,000 to a Catholic Sydney West Hospital to help improve medical services to a poorer area.

In my private practice I perform mostly complex surgeries. For ten years I undertook on calls for emergency surgery sometimes doing 20 days on call a month. Currently, I am focusing mostly on bariatric, plastic/cosmetic and some digestive/colorectal and general surgery. Almost all my non-cosmetic surgery is exclusively minimally invasive.

The proof of the quality of my surgery is the fact that in over 15 years I have not had any deaths nor litigations in Sydney, a city with highest litigation rate where the question is when you are going to be sued rather than if you will. And, that in spite of performing major surgery for bowel infarction or peritonitis, diverticulitis, and even to the extreme of coping with a stabbed heart or draining a subdural haematoma in a small country town.

A more obvious proof is my cosmetic surgery where I transform my patients in “Barbie dolls” and where everyone can see what I am doing.

In 2015 I was the first general surgeon to use the DaVinci robot in Australia. I am the one who pioneered the total extra peritoneal inguinal hernia mesh repair with the DaVinci robot. Currently I use flexible laparoscopic instruments, a more affordable but highly technologic approach to minimally invasive surgery.

My son was one of the few lucky children, perhaps the only nine year old who in 2015 was ever allowed to enter the DaVinci headquarters lab in the Silicon Valley, San Francisco and perform simulation on the Xi DaVinci robot. He is now a medical school student.

In 2019 my patients nominated me for the Australian of the Year. I did not get to be recognised one of them but I was very honoured to be seen like this by my patients, war veterans.

Beside surgery my lifetime passion is aviation and I continue to be a dedicated aviator. I own six aircrafts. I built there of them from scratch, in fact only two as the last of them I just started building, I rebuilt two others and my last acquisition is a vintage model that was used in the Vietnam war and which I am using now to safely transport my family. I like retro or vintage aircraft, same as the wines. In my private plane we visited every little place in Australia and the USA to Montreal, Canada. Beside the fact that I am a test pilot for my experimental built aircrafts my most daring adventure was to cross the Pacific Ocean from California to Sydney in a single engine small aircraft, in 2011. To this day I continue to be the only pilot who has ever crossed the Pacific Ocean directly over the water in this small class single engine Cessna C172.

In the hind site, if I had to start again I would not change anything, but don’t think that my road was easy. By contrary, as Don Quixote de La Mancha fighting the windmills it was an uphill battle full of challenges at every step. I made many mistakes and have many regrets that I learned to live with but I became rich in a spiritual and professional way that it is hard to imagine.

Today, I humble thank from the bottom of my heart to all of those who put their trust in me and educated me for what I am and who continue to be my inspiration for the rest of my life.

I am finishing this resume with a quote from the one who, beside my parents has been a role model for my life:

“every dream I ever dreamed has come true a hundred times more …”

Elvis Presley

Let's talk

Listening to your feedback and reading your comments makes me very happy. Contact me if you have any questions, comments, information, or to request an opinion or an appointment. I will get back to you shortly. 

Dr Oliver Florica