When asked why she loves emergency medicine FACEM Dr Jan Bone didn’t hesitate with her response: “Teamwork!” Having played elite sport for years, Dr Bone found the team orientated work within the emergency department was the perfect fit.

Dr Bone spent the first part of her medial career in paediatrics, finding she was most drawn to acute paediatrics, she was a GP for a time also, however she missed the collaborative approach. She describes an emergency department as “just a big team” and somewhere she now feels most at home.

This teamwork was never more put to the test than in 2011 when the Christchurch earthquake hit. It was against all odds that the Christchurch Hospital Emergency Department survived the earthquake and didn’t have to fall back into emergency triage protocols. The staff went to the lengths of donating their own blood at the pathology lab to keep the supply in line with the ongoing demand.

Extreme measures were taken to cope with the initial influx of patients and the subsequent greater emergencies that arose from more serious injuries coming through, as well as battling flooding, collapsing waiting room ceilings and ongoing tremors.

Dr Bone describes this time under extreme duress, as “a testament to the incredible dedication of the hospital staff”.
Dr Bone will be speaking at the Winter Symposium of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine to be held in Rotorua, New Zealand. 

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Registration is open for ACEM Winter Symposium, Te Wero – The Challenge. Join us 1-3 May 2019 in Rotorua, New Zealand, where we explore the multiple different facets of life in emergency medicine.

With an emphasis on the concept of how we look after each other, focusing on her own personal stories of how medical practitioners can find a way through their careers unscathed, Dr Bone will highlight Mental Health and taking care of yourself as well as those around you. She stresses that “you can only help others when you are okay”.

Dr Bone describes emergency care as a place where you give and you give, in emotionally strenuous situations and often don’t leave anything for yourself. It is this emotional toil that she will focus on in her address and how emergency physicians can better care for themselves, their patients and their co-workers.

“The output cannot be more than the input,” she says.

This focus on mental health and being able to care for oneself and those around them, is particularly poignant for Dr Bone, having been effected by suicide with the passing of a close friend and colleague. This sudden death was shocking and devastating for the medical community. While at the service to commemorate this life, Dr Bone noticed the outpouring of love and support and says she thought to herself, “How could they not have asked for help?” With the understanding that she and those in her profession are typically type A personalities, she acknowledges this saying, “We are supposed to be in control and be all right all the time, and that is just not the case.”

A few years ago, Dr Bone made the decision to take some time off work, a much needed mental health break as a result of feeling burnt out. It was this decision that opened her eyes to the lack of support available for those around her when it came to finding balance in their professional and personal lives.

“Emergency Medicine is a wonderful career but it can be a one way transfusion and therefore a constant juggle for work/life balance.”

During the lead up to this break, upwards of forty colleagues approached Dr Bone to talk about their own stories of feeling overwhelmed and being unable to speak out about it. It was difficult for them to feel safe to give themselves some time off. Dr Bone calls this ‘the concept of permission’. The concept focuses on medical professionals allowing themselves the time and space for mental wellness and supporting each other in taking the time when needed.

Dr Bone looks toward the future of emergency medicine in Christchurch, as the new Christchurch Hospital is being built on the original site. Some models of care will change and approaches will alter with a new site that has been upgraded, giving all staff a chance to move forward. 

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