An adventure in emergency medicine
For working mum and Emergency Medicine registrar Dr Farah Aziz, having a work-life balance was a critical factor for choosing where to complete her medical training. And according to Dr Aziz, she found it at Mount Isa in northwest Queensland.
“I’m in my final year now and I've been part time for the whole of my training in emergency medicine. It’s been a great way to balance family and work responsibilities, and I’ve found emergency medicine to be a good specialty that has allowed me to do that,” Dr Aziz says.
“I’ve actually found that shift work can offer a good lifestyle balance, with lots of days off. Because I’m a working mum I have been fortunate to get mostly day shifts and just a few evenings. The rostering team here are very supportive and flexible which has allowed me to manage my kids’ schooling and family activities.”
Having been a fan of North Queensland since first arriving as a junior doctor, Dr Aziz seized the opportunity to undertake Advanced Skills Training in Emergency Medicine being offered at Mount Isa.
“I was excited to be the first trainee of the emergency department here and It's a very good team here. The nurses are very skilled and the consultants who come here fly in from all over the country, so you get good exposure to different ways of doing things and just picking up lots of tips and tricks along the way.
“You also get to learn a lot from the training because of the smaller number of doctors who are based here, which means you get a lot more opportunities to be hands-on.
“From a practical perspective, it’s been easy to complete the required work-based assessments and fill your logbooks. I've also been lucky enough to do some procedures here which I've never had the opportunity to do before. “
Already attracted to the fast-changing pace of Emergency Medicine, it comes as no surprise that Dr Aziz enjoys the challenges of not knowing what patients will present with.
“Every day is different. It definitely feels like an adventure because you don't know what you're going to see or how are you going to deal with it.
“You get all kinds of patients and all sorts of situations, from simple rolled ankles to emergencies and resuscitations. It’s very interesting, very challenging, but also very rewarding.”
One aspect of the training experience in regional Queensland on which Dr Aziz puts emphasis is the access to a wide variety of patients and clinical presentations.
“There are different nuances when working with patients from this region. We see a lot of Aboriginal patients and people who come from very remote communities who, by the time they get to us, can be critically ill.
“You can’t always do the same thing for every patient; you have to adapt and modify the treatment according to their social or cultural needs. Doing my training here has definitely increased my cultural awareness and cultural capability.
“Just things like being aware that for some of the patients, English may be their second or third language which makes you really consider how you are communicating to them and how they are understanding you.”
However, it is the social and emotional side of emergency medicine about which Dr Aziz feels most passionate.
“I’ve learnt a lot about how to manage people during their most difficult times. You’re not only trying to deal with the medical side of the emergency but also dealing with the patient’s family and there’s often a lot of high emotion involved.
“It can be very difficult to deal with while it's happening but when it’s all over you do feel a great sense of personal satisfaction that you’ve helped people through their worst times.
“You also see a lot of differences in the family support that people have as patients in the emergency department, and you see how much that can impact their recovery. I feel for patients who are lonely, who have no one to look after them, like some of the patients I see from nursing homes. When this happens, I try to increase the level of help that I can give them, not just medical but also social help.”
The decision to undertake her emergency medical training in regional North Queensland has also offered Dr Aziz many lifestyle benefits for her family.
“Mount Isa is a great place to bring up young family. The schools are very good here and there are lots of things for the kids to do. We arrived in Mount Isa when it was Rodeo Week, which was awesome. My family also love going to the Peacock Park and feeding the peacocks, and we enjoy driving out to Lake Moondarra; the views are just amazing from the lookout there and it’s great for bird watching.
“My first job was in regional Queensland as a junior doctor 10 years ago and I've loved being here ever since!”