It’s easy to get lost in the routine of life, and to forget what makes our specialty so extraordinary and special.
There are many factors that make emergency medicine a desirable and rewarding career path. For some of us, the collaborative, person-centric approach of emergency medicine is what drew us in. For others, it’s the all-rounder nature of the specialty, the diversity of care, and the ever-varying clinical problems we diagnose and treat.
This job is many things, but one thing’s for sure: it isn’t boring.
For me, emergency medicine appealed because I really love meeting new people. I find getting to know them, hearing their stories, and being able to explain to them how their body works and how to manage their health conditions incredibly rewarding. As emergency physicians, we get to witness the human condition up close, which is an extraordinary privilege.
It can be hard to remember all this though, as we head towards another autumn of understaffed EDs, the mounting pressure of burnout, and the seemingly endless stream of patients entering departments already past capacity. It’s overwhelming to say the least, and because we so often go to work with the aim of simply keeping our heads above water, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture – of why we do what we do, and of all the positive moments that pepper the day.
These moments can be the overwhelming relief when a life is saved, but can also be smaller moments, like the thrill of piecing together a tricky diagnosis, or the deep pride you feel when you connect with a patient and are able to gain their trust and confidence.
Witnessing emergency doctors lead through recent natural disasters in Aotearoa New Zealand also cemented the immense pride I have in our professional cohort. While resilience is an inherent part of being an ED physician, the courage and perseverance shown by emergency doctors, other frontline workers and community members in response to the carnage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle has been remarkable. The fellows and trainees I’ve talked to have demonstrated an inspiring attitude of collegiality, and of just putting one step in front of the other and doing what needs to be done. We hope they get some much needed respite soon.
Unfortunately, due to the current climate crisis, these extreme weather events are likely to recur. While time and time again we show an incredible work ethic and are able to support our communities as best we can, it’s important to acknowledge that without action things are only going to get harder, and that we must continue developing strategies and initiatives to address and mitigate these increasingly frequent climate events.
It looks like 2023 is ramping up, and we have a busy March ahead. With the NSW state election only weeks away, the College is continuing to advocate for government support to address the causes and impacts of emergency department overcrowding and access block.
We are adamant that the recommendations of the NSW government’s ambulance ramping enquiry, which I and other FACEMs participated in last year, must be adopted in full by whoever forms government, and will help guide policymakers to deliver the health system people in NSW deserve.
We have a lot to look forward to this month. We will finally have an in-person awards ceremony to celebrate all that our fellows and trainees have accomplished in the last few years. It will be wonderful to make up for lost time and properly recognise these fantastic achievements.
When I reflect on our achievements, our many partnerships and our advocacy, I am optimistic that, by working together, we are moving ever closer to achieving real, positive change.
Until next month, thank you, for all that you do.
Dr Clare Skinner