This was the first time I was able to visit Aotearoa since I became President, and I have come away bolstered by the powerful content and connections we shared, and grateful for being able to reconnect with community from across our two countries.
It reminded me of how vital our community of FACEMs, trainees and other members is, and what immense value comes from meeting face-to-face with people whose experiences are so linked to our own, who we can both share with and learn from.
The theme for the conference was Mahi Tahi, or working together, a fitting theme for emergency medicine, as collaboration is an integral part of our work. The most important collaboration we share is the one with people who present to emergency departments for care. We collaborate with them on their treatment, for they are the experts on their bodies and experiences. But they are never “our” patients, and we strive to always treat them with autonomy and respect.
We also rely on teamwork and communicating across hospital systems daily to ensure the best care for our patients. On a broader level, it is sharing knowledge across state and national borders that prompts this specialty to grow and improve. This was especially reflected by our speakers, who spoke to a broad range of known and emerging issues in emergency medicine.
A special aspect of the conference was welcoming and celebrating the new FACEM graduates. It reminded me of when I first became a Fellow, and how exciting it was to join the College.
My mentors and heroes became my colleagues, and while I still had a lot to learn then – as I do now with our field continually developing – I felt as though I was on the precipice of a new era of life; one where I could become a leader in my chosen field, and where I could influence and enact the changes I wanted to see.
I could feel that same anticipatory energy at the graduate ceremony, and in the new FACEMs I spoke with in Christchurch. I look forward to seeing what individal and unique perspectives and strengths this new cohort of practitioners brings to emergency medicine.
At the AGM, Dr Stephen Gourley officially began his term as President-Elect. Stephen, who will be the first President from the Northern Territory, will bring an important and necessary perspective to the role with his expertise in regional and rural medicine.
Dr John Bonning also finished his term as Immediate Past President, and reflected on the last three days – and the last three years. Ngā mihi, John, for all your mahi!
I am proud at being part of an incredible community of practitioners. We can sometimes forget, in times of adversity, why we chose this profession – who amongst us on a hectic shift hasn’t thought, what was I thinking? – but being surrounded by colleagues and friends who share the same passions and desires for change reinstated, for me, why we do what we do.
Thank you to the College’s organising committee, all College staff, speakers, attendees, locals and everyone else that came together to facilitate this special event. And thank you to everyone who remained in the emergency department to carry on our 24/7 work.
I hope that, like me, those of you that came along feel somewhat reenergised.
We know that it is challenging times in EDs – staff are exhausted, the system is overloaded and fraying at the seams. Now, more than ever, we must work together, blame the system for issues we experience in our work – never other people – and continue to make sure patients are at the centre of what we do.
We are the safety net for so many people that can’t access care elsewhere, and, while we are stretched, we must maintain this important role and continue to work with others across the health system to build a fairer, safer system.
Until next time, thank you, for all that you do. Whatever the next year brings, we will get through it like we always do – together.
Dr Clare Skinner