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    Exploring the nitty-gritty of psychiatry training at Mackay Base Hospital

    For psychiatry registrar, Dr Beau Harman, choosing Mackay as a training destination to pursue his interest in mental health was a decision that reaped many benefits.

    “I was always interested in mental health pretty much from the get-go,” says Dr Harman. “I had heard good things about the mental health inpatient unit at Mackay Base Hospital and knew that they offered psychiatry as a rotation within the internship, which not every hospital does. “Doing a psychiatry rotation as part of your internship year means that you get the opportunity to demonstrate your interest in mental health, which was then very much nurtured. The clinical director of the Mental Health Inpatient Unit was always approachable and very trainee focused.”

    An important feature of doing psychiatry training in Mackay is that it offers all of the mandatory rotations needed for psychiatry specialisation. “If you want to become a consultant psychiatrist, Mackay offers every mandatory rotation you need. This includes consult liaison psychiatry which is the arm of psychiatry that assists the medical and surgical wards in the inpatient setting; child and youth mental health; general adult care; and there’s even an accredited training position for the alcohol and other drugs service.

    “Mackay is also particularly good for psychiatric services being made available on call as well. Consequently, junior doctors typically don't get called in overnight to review patients which can make a big difference when you are starting out.”

    Initially only planning on staying six months, Dr Harman ended up spending nearly three years at Mackay Base Hospital due to the career opportunities on offer. “After completing my internship, I was offered a Senior House Officer role in mental health for my postgraduate second year, and then went on to the psychiatry program as registrar about after six months. So, you could say that the training I undertook in Mackay was very satisfying in terms of catering to my career goal.”

    Dr Harman also describes the mental health inpatient unit at Mackay as being big and busy enough to provide trainees with a wide scope of practice. “As a trainee, I got to be involved with a wide range of duties such as conducting patient assessments, performing mental state examinations, medication prescribing and discharge planning. You have the chance to get involved with the ‘nitty gritty’ of mental health care as opposed to the more watered-down approach of other internships which entail taking on more of a GP role to the patients, monitoring their physical health, for example. I found that even as an intern at the unit in Mackay, you’re very much part of the mental health team.”

    For any hospital-based doctor specialising in psychiatry, there will be times when you will be faced with some potentially traumatising experiences, but for Dr Harman this is what makes the work rewarding.

    “I like to think psychiatry is both an art and a science. That’s because you need empathy, you need to be a good listener, and you need to be inquisitive. And they're all things that I have a strong affinity with. Connecting with people, building trust, and helping them when they're most vulnerable really helps to make the work I do extremely rewarding.”

    Having undertaken his medical undergraduate studies in Brisbane, Dr Harman says he is glad he chose to go regional.

    “I find in smaller towns that the patient care is more personalised, and you feel like you are more of a member in the community, which is something that both my wife and I really value. And in terms of training, there's definitely more opportunities for hands-on clinical experience which can really benefit your career.”

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