Late last year Dr Chamila De Alwis – of Western Sydney Local Health District – received news from ACEM’s EMC/D training coordinator that all candidates for that day’s EMC exam had passed. The news was sent in a bulk email to all relevant EMC/EMD invigilators, but Chamila’s story was a little different.
Her site – Blacktown and Mt Druitt Hospital – had ten EMC trainees sit that day – a record number to sit the exam on one day from any single site. All ten graduated – an incredible achievement individually and a great outcome for the hospital.
Blacktown and Mt Druitt is the only hospital in Australia that operates across two campuses. Both sites operate emergency departments, both 24 hours.
‘We require a very large cohort of senior and junior doctors to operate two independent, 24-hour emergency departments. The workforce employs several senior resident medical officers (SRMOs) to ensure workforce requirements can be met.
‘Most of the SRMOs are international medical graduates. Some are interested in pursuing a career in emergency medicine, but others are doing it as a pre-requisite to join general practice.’
For many years, the hospital has hosted a few EMC/D trainees each year, but last year they changed their approach.
‘The director of emergency medicine – Dr Reza Ali – encouraged all the SRMOs to take it up; that whatever your career path it would be a positive investment. And they did.’
One of those SRMOs was Dr Malkut Kazmi, who had always been fascinated by emergency medicine when the opportunity to undertake the EMC came up.
‘For personal reasons I could not enrol in the FACEM Training Program, so I’ve always kept an eye on the College website to see what opportunities there were to upskill.
‘One morning Reza called all the SRMOs in for a meeting and introduced the possibility of doing the EMC. I put my hand up straight away.’
Blacktown Mount Druitt Hospital has an unusually high number of approved EMC/D supervisors – about 70 to 80 per cent of their staff specialist group.
‘Because we have such a high number of approved supervisors we were able to encourage a large group to do the program. We still had a 1:3 supervisor-to-trainee ratio,’ Chamila says.
She says they developed a series of initiatives to ensure the group was well supported and the training program was inclusive.
‘We formed a WhatsApp group for the trainees and the coordinator to help with communication. Of course it also motivates you a little bit to see what others are up to as well.’
Malkut says she would encourage all SRMOs to complete the program.
‘As soon as I started the modules I felt like I should have enrolled when I joined the department. It’s a very helpful course and gave me confidence to provide safe and effective care.
‘Every day I took a little bit of confidence from the modules, guidelines and clinical videos. That confidence has helped me to reach better outcomes and deliver patient satisfaction.’
Malkut is still hopeful of one day becoming a FACEM. Meanwhile, Chamila says there are still a group of EMC trainees at Blacktown Mount Druitt yet to sit the exam, but they hope to do so within the year.
The Emergency Medicine Certificate is a six-month competency-based program aimed at providing doctors working in emergency departments with adequate knowledge and sufficient clinical experience to be safe and efficient practitioners. Since its inception in 2011 more than 1000 doctors have successfully graduated from the program.