FACEMs and trainees are globally active in increasing numbers delivering long term emergency care capacity-development programs across Africa & Europe, Asia & the Middle East, and the Pacific region.
Here, trainee Dr Felicia Cox writes about her recent work in the Solomon Islands, and urges fellow trainees to have an ongoing positive impact abroad.
There are a lot of adjectives you could use for working in the Solomon Islands. It’s certainly hot, busy and at times overwhelming. But I think mostly it has been fascinating, inspiring and rewarding and I would encourage all trainees to consider it as an option during your training.
Working at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) in Honiara, you have the unique opportunity to experience the delivery of health care in an under-resourced environment. Every day is a lesson in flexibility and creativity! Not to mention the learning that comes from exposure to the wide variety of pathology that finds its way through the door each day. As an example, this week we managed a neonatal sepsis requiring resuscitation, an unstable ectopic pregnancy, a crocodile bite, a normal vaginal delivery, a critical asthmatic and decompensated urosepsis in the setting of DKA. Last week, the whole hospital worked together to manage a mass casualty event. Needless to say it’s a very interesting place to work.
As an ED trainee, you also have the opportunity to work with and learn from some incredible local staff. ED consultants Dr Trina Sale and Dr Patrick Toito’ona promote an environment where you are encouraged to operate independently but are only a phone call away if you need help.
But the real highlight of the experience is the privilege of working with the Solomon Island people. Solomon Islanders are incredibly resilient and an absolute joy to be around. I’m continually amazed by their stoicism, their kindness to each other and their patience. On busy days in the department, sometimes you have to step over patients who have been sleeping on the floor for several days just to get into the building. And just to compound my guilt, you hear a chorus of “sorry, good morning” as you pass through. The more time you spend with Solomon Islanders, the more you can learn about their lives and culture and the impact this can have on health care.
ACEM has partnered with the Australian Volunteers Program to support one Advanced Trainee each term at the NRH as the Senior Registrar and Intern Supervisor.

For more details and opportunities, visit the Australian Volunteers Program website.

Pictures below: The the National Referral Hospital; The ED resus team doing simulation training (Dr Cox, Dr Gain Simbe, Emergency RN Yolande)