This year, Wellness Week commemorates emergency medicine’s history, accomplishments and how far we’ve come in supporting those within the specialty.
If possible, I encourage you each to connect with this initiative and to take part in activities, and to also recommit to your own individual practices for supporting wellbeing, whatever that may look and feel like for you.
But, as we each keenly know, genuine wellbeing at work can come only when the structural issues that contribute to pressures on the health systems we work in are addressed.
To that end, effective and targeted advocacy is a vital part of wellness. The College will keep striving and working for the genuine reform needed to deliver a system that meets the needs of all patients, carers, and healthcare staff.
The last month saw some difficult, challenging times and events. The act of violence in an ED in northwest Tasmania affected us all greatly.
I extend our sympathies and support to the doctor who was harmed, his loved ones and colleagues. I can only imagine the trauma that this situation brought to the victim, but it is also clear that this tragic incident rippled through our immediate and bi-national emergency care community.
I want to acknowledge the professionalism and support provided by the clinicians who provided such expert care for their colleague after the incident, especially considering how confronting this must have been. We also saw more violence on the healthcare frontline in April, with the tragic death of a paramedic in NSW. Our heart goes out to his family, loved ones and colleagues.
Now more than ever, we need to reach out and support each other.
The College provides various supports for members and trainees, and I encourage you to utilise these if needed, and to reach out to your fellow FACEMs and trainees. We are all in this together.
These extreme occurrences are rare but echo the physical and verbal abuse we experience on a regular basis.
As emergency physicians, we want to help all people that come to the ED. We understand that patients and their carers are often frustrated, frightened, and stressed, and that there are often contributing factors to violent assaults on healthcare workers that can include alcohol and other drugs.
These are reasons. But they are not excuses, because there are no reasons that make it acceptable to be violent or threatening.
All people have a right to be safe at work, including healthcare workers. Healthcare workers are human, and we are not immune to pain, fear, trauma, or suffering, simply by merit of the nature of our work. There can be no tolerance for violence of any kind, ever.
And it cannot be on our shoulders to manage.
Governments, hospital administrators and all people involved in the operations of healthcare and hospital systems must work with healthcare workers to consider what can be done to ensure emergency departments are safe for all patients, carers and staff.
This means addressing the overcrowding of emergency departments due to access block by providing safe staffing and necessary capacity in acute hospitals, as well as ensuring community-based care is appropriately resourced and accessible, so that people get the care they need, when and where they need it.
This Wellness Week, I hope you each take time to engage with small practices that uplift you. But please always remember that alleviating structural and systemic pressures is not a personal responsibility – we will continue to work collectively towards positive change.
Until next month, thank you for all that you do. Whatever the next month brings we’ll get through it like we always do ­– together.
Dr Clare Skinner
ACEM President