Congratulations to FACEM Dr Clare Skinner, who has been included in the Top 50 Public Sector Women (NSW) list.
The initiative has been developed to focus a spotlight on inspirational female leaders within the public sector, to support and guide them through mentoring and to highlight their work as role models for other women.
Dr Skinner, a NSW Member of ACEM’s Council of Advocacy, Practice and Partnerships, is Director of Emergency Medicine at Hornsby Kuring-Gai Hospital in Sydney and is also Chair of the Emergency Medicine Network for Northern Sydney Local Health District.
Dr Skinner is interested in improving workplace culture in emergency departments and hopes to achieve this by advocating for increased senior medical staffing, building positive relationships in and beyond the emergency department, providing excellent clinically-orientated education, and mentorship of trainees and Junior Medical Officers.
“It is really nice to be recognised,” Dr Skinner says. “In emergency medicine we do the job day in and day out, and it is rare to get public recognition of the job we do. It’s a really important job for the community and I think it is important to acknowledge that you can be a woman and have a leadership role in emergency medicine.”
Dr Skinner, who is also a member of the ACEM Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group, says she has “mixed feelings” about women’s prizes. “It would be nice to win a prize not just for being a woman, but I would also acknowledge that there are some structural issues that face me as a female emergency director,” she says.
Starting her career in Canberra, Dr Skinner pays tribute to FACEM Dr Betty Domazet for being an inspiration, recalling a time when Dr Domazet was leading a resuscitation team working on a patient and then delivering her baby following a car accident. “Watching her work she had the right mix of being tough, caring and decisive, and she had the attention of the team. Watching a woman lead a really important resus with both a sad and happy outcome was really inspiring.”
Dr Skinner also pays tribute to other female emergency physicians she has worked alongside during her career, including Dr Liz Swinburn and Dr Jennie Martin, former ACEM President Associate Professor Sally McCarthy, as well as emergency medicine nurses. “They are the unsung heroes of emergency medicine, they hold the place together and they really set the culture and do great work,” she says.
And her advice to a female trainee starting their career in emergency medicine?
“It is a fantastic career. I compare emergency medicine to a real life game of Thank God You're Here. Every day is a little bit different, every day is challenging, every day you get to work with your hands and you get to help people and hopefully you get to save a life,” Dr Skinner says.
“Also the greatest thing is you get to work with inspiring people. The thing that is really different about emergency medicine is that we work as a team; it is both a team of clinicians but also of the broader community team – we work with the paramedics, the police. We also work with our patients, and I don’t think any other medical speciality offers this opportunity.”
Dr Skinner would also recommend a career in management. “It is deeply satisfying and rewarding, you get to set the culture and you get to make things safer and better for everybody,” she says. “It is a different skill set but one that people should embrace, don’t be frightened of it.”