In my role in an emergency department I try to ensure that each of our trainees, physicians and staff members feel they are supported, listened to, respected and given the opportunities they need to look after their physical and mental health; their wellbeing.
In my role as President, I strive to ensure emergency departments across Australia and New Zealand each continue to develop a workplace culture and strength of leadership that provide a safe and supportive environment for everybody. As President, I can advocate for system change; particularly for those issues which seem to cause us the most angst and stress. I can advocate to ensure that hospitals and the College have the support structures in place for trainees and members so they can get help where and when they need it. But the hard work – the real change – needs to be done by each of us, every day, at the coalface of emergency care. It takes time and effort, and it’s not easy to get it right all the time.
Each of us needs to commit to positively influencing behaviours and ideas, to supporting emergency department directors, and working with hospital administrators to supporting wellbeing for everyone. It is also up to each of us in the emergency department, and especially those of us in leadership positions, to call out behaviour that can negatively impact our people.
The College is committed to supporting trainee wellbeing and to further developing a culture of respect and professionalism within the practice of emergency medicine.
Sadly, I get regular feedback that trainees are worried about approaching the College for support or advice. I hear that you are told that raising concerns will impact your progress through training, your exam prospects, or even impact your ability to get a job. I'm not sure where this misinformation comes from, but it could not be further from the truth.
Everyone at the College is here to support you. It is structured with areas dedicated to trainees' wellbeing and administrative support. We work hard to ensure trainees are aware of both their rights and their responsibilities. We know that juggling the demands of a busy profession, while developing your knowledge and skills, studying for examinations, and attempting to balance family and personal commitments, is not only challenging, but also incredibly stressful. If you are struggling with an issue relating to any part of your training program, contact the College early so they can help you connect with the information and services you need.
For example, if you have an issue around training or supervision, you could contact the Trainee Support unit, the Trainee Records unit, or the WBA team. They can provide information, discuss your options, and assist in navigating and clarifying College regulations and policies. The College also this year established a Membership and Wellbeing Unit, which has three full-time staff committed to programs and initiatives to grow and support the wellbeing of our members and trainees.
As President, I have endeavoured to be as up front and honest as I can about how the College operates, what resources we have to assist you, and our values. I also know that the College staff support this approach and take your wellbeing seriously. That said, I have no doubt there are areas where we all can do better. We are currently working on several initiatives to support this, and I look forward to sharing their progress with you in the future.
I want to be very clear that any trainee who feels that their treatment or a decision has been unfair or that there has been deviation from the policies and procedures we have in place should feel empowered to approach the College and seek a review through the avenues available to you.
Support Policies and Resources
TA545 Supporting Trainees in Difficulty
TA645 Guidelines For Involving A Support Person In A Feedback Meeting
COR133 Discrimination, Bullying and Sexual Harassment
COR355 Reconsideration, Review and Appeals Policy
TA79 Exceptional Circumstances and Special Consideration
FACEM Training Program Handbook
Membership and Wellbeing Unit