The brainchild of FACEM trainee Nicole Delaat, the workshops are an opportunity for parents who are returning to work in emergency medicine to refresh their skills and knowledge in a supportive and hands-on environment.

FACEM trainee Jennifer Heyes will be facilitating the New Zealand course, having previously attended one of the courses held in Melbourne.

‘My clinical leader and DEMT encouraged me to attend the Melbourne course. It’s difficult to commit to things when you have a small child, particularly while breastfeeding, but I was really grateful to have that support and encouragement from my department.’

The workshop is conducted in a single day and is facilitated by a range of local FACEMs and trainees.

‘It was inclusive and appropriate for all levels. We had people about to join the FACEM Training Program and we had FACEMs. Everyone’s needs were met. Some of us were returning after six months’ parental leave, but others had been away for years,’ Jennifer says.

‘It was really great to see such diversity of experience at the workshop, and to see how that was handled.’
Jennifer says the workshop allowed her to see that she was not alone and that her anxieties were felt by others, too.

‘Your whole identity changes when you become a parent. The idea of returning to work can be quite intimidating – you feel this pressure to perform under a fog of fatigue and you have those pangs of separation from your child.

‘SUPER reassured me that I was not the only one who felt these anxieties. It felt like a safe, simulated return to work. It was helpful to meet people who had been through the same experience and to hear their journeys. It honestly made me feel excited about returning and gave me the confidence to do so.’

Jennifer says she and colleague FACEM Natasha McKay have chosen to facilitate the New Zealand workshop (with FACEMs Laura Wilkinson and Patrick Armstrong) as they both have young children and have both been through the return-to-work process.

‘Our department (Wellington Emergency Department) is proud to host the first New Zealand SUPER course.

‘It is a huge challenge to return to work. Many people feel a loss of confidence or struggle with the guilt of the shared parent/doctor role. We hope to ease that transition and talk about some of the common challenges.’

The course will follow a similar structure to previous courses.

‘After introductions, we will run through some ECGs and X-rays and then we’ll be hands-on for the rest of the day – critical care skills stations and simulations.

‘We will also encourage discussion about the practicalities of being back in the ED – your right to take breaks to breastfeed or express, the right to a private space to do so, and how departments can accommodate staff with small children.’

Men returning to work are most welcome as participants of the course too.

‘It is not until both men and women have equal opportunity to care for their children that we can end the career penalty faced by many women when having children.’

SUPER is a one-day workshop for parents returning to work in emergency medicine from a period of parental leave.

The New Zealand workshop will be held at Wellington Regional Hospital on 16 January 2020. The workshop is free of charge, but registration to the course facilitator is essential.

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