Working Life: From dawn to dusk with a consultant spine surgeon

Working Life: From dawn to dusk with a consultant spine surgeon

Professor Joseph Butler, consultant spine surgeon, Mater Private Hospital and National Spinal Injuries Unit, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital


My alarm goes off. I shower, shave, suit on, kiss my kids (try not to wake them up), and hit the road. My wife, Áine, is a consultant psychiatrist, her alarm is set for 6am. We very often have a late night or early morning visitor from one of our four kids (three boys aged six, four and three and a girl, aged 18 months). On Thursdays, I bring the eldest two boys to school which is the absolute highlight of my very jam-packed week.


Pit stop for a take away coffee in a lovely coffee shop, the Bald Barista on Aungier Street, Dublin. Chat with the owner, a Kiwi named Buzz Fendall, who I have been going to for coffee for many many years. A few sips of coffee, two minutes of complete bliss and back in the car.


I hit the wards, chat with the nursing staff, see all my patients and make sure everyone is doing well.


Scrubs go on, and I chat with my patients in theatre holding bay to make sure they understand their surgery and ease any concerns they may have.


Finish up my surgical day. Touch base with my secretary Conor McBride, who runs my practice really efficiently. Ring my patients’ family members to let them know that all went well with their loved ones. See my patients on the ward with either of my clinical nurse specialists, Andrea Flannery or Bríd Ní Laoire, who are superb with the patients. Let my patients know how their surgery went and what they should expect over the coming days and weeks.


Home to the family. Dinner with the kids and school homework before bed. I take my eldest son to his Taekwondo martial arts class on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The weekends usually involve Little Kickers Football for my three-year-old and Junior Academy at Shamrock Rovers for my four-year-old and six-year-old, or Mo Salah and Firmino as they preferred to be called.

I have a very busy working week, but I absolutely love what I do. I find it incredibly rewarding to follow my patients’ journey from clinic, to surgery and final assessment. Thankfully, a very busy home life — and being married to a psychiatrist — keeps me grounded and focused on the important things in life.;

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