New South Wales / Australian Captial Territory - November 2017

A message from the NSW/ACT State Committee Chair

Welcome to the final edition of the New South Wales (NSW) / Australian Capital Territory (ACT) State eNewsletter for 2017. 

The NSW/ACT State Committee has been busy with a number of events and activities over these past few months, including a recent event held in Canberra which focused on obesity. I thank Dr Nalini Pati for hosting this event and all those who presented and attended. 

We are seeking to engage further with not only the ACT members, but all of our regional members and I am interested to hear your thoughts on how we can improve our communication and relationships with members. The Committee will be devising its 2018 work plan next year and with your feedback we can ensure that regional members’ needs are included and strategies are in place to meet these. 

The Committee continues to support the health and wellbeing of physicians and paediatricians. We are pleased with the work the College has completed in this area. I would like to remind members that there are many support resources available on the website and information regarding the College’s position in this area. 

I recently met with the NSW Minister for Health, The Hon. Brad Hazzard to initiate discussion on a number of relevant topics of interest including doctors’ health and wellbeing and I look forward to continuing this relationship with the Ministry in the future.

I am pleased to advise the first NSW New Fellows’ Forum will be held in Sydney on Saturday, 2 December. This event is targeted to New Fellows however all members are welcome. Topics that will be covered include private practice, ethical dilemmas in clinical decision making and health and wellbeing. Please send your RSVP to racpnsw@racp.edu.au 

I am looking forward to the annual RACP Trainee Research Awards for Excellence to be held on Thursday 16 November from 6pm. The awards are recognised within the research sector and previous representatives have found the experience to be rewarding. I wish all participating trainees the best of luck. 

If you would like to RSVP to an event or provide feedback on regional work, please email racpnsw@racp.edu.au

I would like to thank the State Committee for their ongoing hard work and commitment to NSW/ACT members. I look forward to 2018 and wish you all a happy holiday. 

Professor Stephen Clarke 
Chair, NSW/ACT State Committee


A message from the NSW/ACT Trainees’ Committee Co-Chairs

Recently, the NSW/ACT Trainees’ Committee held the inaugural Private Practice Forum. It was a highly successful event attended by trainees and Fellows from both Adult Medicine and Paediatrics & Child Health. Dr Katherine Ellard and Dr Justine Mill discussed the practicalities of setting up a private practice. Mr Timothy Bowen explored the important issue of minimising the medico-legal risk, and Dr William Thoo explained how working in a private hospital differed from the public health system. The audience was highly engaged during the Q&A session at the end, so much so that it went 45 minutes over time.

The overwhelming feedback for the Forum was positive and the only negative comments were that the event duration was too short. Building on this success, the NSW/ACT Trainees’ Committee is planning a full-day event next year to explore some of the above topics in finer detail. You can watch a recording of the Forum on the RACP YouTube channel

As we approach the end of the year, positions are now open on the NSW/ACT Trainees’ Committee for 2018. We encourage Basic and Advanced Trainees from both Adult Medicine and Paediatrics & Child Health to respond to the Expression of Interest

The NSW/ACT Trainees’ Committee advocates for RACP trainees in NSW and ACT. We encourage all trainees in NSW/ACT to engage with the committee and bring forward any issues, comments or queries to us at racpnsw@racp.edu.au

Dr Phoebe Stewart 
Paediatric Co-Chair 
NSW/ACT Trainee Committee

Dr Rihan Shahab
Adult Co-Chair
NSW/ACT Trainee Committee

Work-life balance: Managing working as a consultant with a young family 

Are you struggling to achieve the elusive ‘work-life balance’? Do you ever feel like there are not enough hours in the day? In this day and age where many people have competing demands and priorities, ‘work-life’ balance can quickly go out the door, particularly for those working in high-pressure jobs and supporting a young family.
 
Here rehabilitation medicine physician, Dr David Skalicky, and paediatric emergency medicine physician, Dr Bec Nogajski, share advice on how they manage the pressures and responsibilities that come with working as a physician and raising a young family. 

  1. Look after yourself 

    Dr Nogajski, mother of three children aged six, four and two, says that one of the key things that helps balance her work and family commitments is being aware of what she and her partner need to do to look after themselves, and being realistic about what is achievable.

    “Looking after ourselves is more of a conscious effort now than before we had children.”

  2. Find a ‘sustainable balance’

    For Dr Skalicky, ‘sustainable balance’ is an important concept that comes to mind when thinking about ‘work-life balance’. Finding a routine that is achievable in the long run is important to avoid burn-out. 

    “Thinking hard about how you are going to find a balance that is sustainable is really important”, says Dr Skalicky, father of two boys aged five and three, and a four-month-old baby girl. 

  3. Be flexible

    Dr Skalicky has held a range of different jobs throughout his career, some have required travel and work in rural areas, as well as practising in different hospitals across Sydney. Being flexible has enabled him to find ways to maintain his work and family commitments without burning out, “it all just has to fit in”, says Dr Skalicky.

    Both Dr Skalicky and Dr Nogajski, try to be flexible when fitting in time to do things with their partner, which usually works around the children’s schedules. 

    Every day is different, “my husband and I very much try to approach things together and split what we can equally and be flexible where needed”, says Dr Nogajski.

  4. Prioritise and learn to say ‘no’

    Dr Nogajski says that finding balance in her life is a work in progress that is continually evolving, “it has meant different things for me at different points in my life”. 

    For Dr Nogajski, the most important thing in her life at the moment is family. This has meant that she has had to learn to say no to some things, so that she and her husband do not overcommit and become exhausted. 

    “I have become better at saying no or offering up timelines which are achievable to me”, says Dr Nogajski

    “I am more aware of what I need to perform well at work but I also need to ensure that other areas in my life are also prioritised”. 

    In this sense, ‘work-life balance’ has become more like ‘work-life compromise’.

  5. Read

    Dr Skalicky has found reading the works of psychologists, psychiatrists, paediatricians and neuroscientists such as John Gottman, Dr Howard Chilton, Charlie Brown and Daniel Seuqel, on topics around relationships, philosophy, neurobiology and neurodevelopment to be very useful. 

    Through his reading, Dr Skalicky has been able to gain a deeper understanding of how he can maintain a strong relationship with his partner and also facilitate appropriate developmental patterns in his children, such as regulating emotions and practising social relationships. Dr Skalicky has managed to integrate some of this information into his life, basing it on his own personal values and experiences of family.

  6. Ask for help when you need it

    Planning things in advance, having a good routine and asking for help when needed are a few of the things that help Dr Nogajski ensure that she and her husband achieve the things that are important to their family.

    Accepting that things will not always be perfect and that life with children is going to be quite chaotic is important. 

    “You make mistakes and you accept your mistakes and you keep going,” says Dr Skalicky.

    “I was given a lot of advice and had good mentors which made it easier when things were hard,” says Dr Nogajski.

  7. Enjoy the ride and don’t overthink it

    Life with children can be challenging particularly with the chronic sleep deprivation that comes with a newborn, busy schedules and anxiety as to whether you are doing a good enough job both at home and work. But Dr Nogajski urges physicians to not “overthink it”.

    Dr Skalicky encourages anyone thinking about starting a family to “go for it” and says that “family life kind of nourishes your sense of identity which helps you know yourself better, which helps you treat patients better as well”.

Obesity and wellbeing seminar, October 2017

On Tuesday, 3 October, the NSW/ACT State Committee hosted a seminar in the ACT focusing on obesity and health and wellbeing. Guest speakers included:

  • Dr Paul Kelly, ACT Chief Health Officer 
  • Professor Christopher Nolan, endocrinologist 
  • Dr Louise Stone, General Practitioner. 

The seminar provided an interesting insight into physician wellbeing followed by an in-depth clinical analysis of obesity and the impact of this on the population health of the ACT. 

The State Committee looks forward to holding more events in the ACT next year and thanks those who attended this session. 

Out and about

NSW/ACT Member Support Officer, Isabel Roos, has been active supporting members including:

  • participating in the Advanced Facilitator Training in August
  • hosting the SPDP 3 workshop presented by Professor David Kandiah at Fairfield Hospital in August
  • assisting at the AFRM Clinical Examination held at Royal North Shore Hospital as an invigilator
  • attending the Hunter Medical Student and Junior Medical Officer Wellbeing Forum in October
  • representing the RACP at the Pre-Internship (PRINT) Careers Expo in October.

A number of site visits have also taken place over the last three months to meet with trainees and supervisors to provide updates on RACP activities and pass on feedback. Sites visited included Canberra Hospital, Gosford Hospital, John Hunter Hospital, Prince of Wales Hospital, St Vincent’s Hospital, Wollongong Hospital and Wyong Hospital.

To contact the NSW Member Support Officer with any training or supervisor questions please email racpnsw@racp.edu.au 

Upcoming events

NSW/ACT RACP Trainee Research Awards for Excellence, Thursday, 16 November
NSW New Fellows' Forum, Saturday, 2 December 2017

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