FACEM Bryan Schnabel was elected to Fellowship in 2018. It marked the end of a training journey that also saw the birth of his two children.
‘My daughter Emily is five years old. My son Jacob is three.’
He says he had a very positive experience in the birth of both children.
‘When Emily was born the department was incredibly supportive. We were able to take a prolonged stint of paternity leave – nine weeks through accrued annual leave over Christmas. We visited my wife’s family in Germany.’
His son was born while they were in Coffs Harbour and he is grateful to have had the support of his in-laws, by then emigrating from Germany.
‘I am convinced I would not have passed my exams without the support of my wife and in-laws.’
Since emigrating to Australia, his in-laws have moved in with he and his family and now play a key role in caring for his children as his wife completes her endocrinology training.
Bryan now works part-time at Belmont Hospital, in New South Wales.
‘My wife works alternative weeks with another mother. Her parents have been an enormous help with day-to-day routine activities, and making sure the children get where they need to be – daycare or school.’
He says his ability to balance both roles has also been supported by his workplace, where he not only has an extremely supportive director, but is also surrounded by colleagues in similar positions to him [balancing work and parenting roles].
‘My workplace is incredibly supportive in terms of my parental duties and my roster is relatively set, which allows me specific days with my children during the week.
‘We have an incredibly supportive director of the department, but also all of the FACEMs in the department have children and understand the responsibilities.’
He is not sure whether his experience has differed because he is a man.
‘It is hard to compare what might be different. Our director is a woman, but two staff specialists with kids are men. The whole department has a very supportive approach to parenting.’
Bryan says his mentors for fatherhood are the same he holds for his clinical work – and their support goes back to his time working in Tamworth.
‘As I started my ED training in Tamworth I still refer to the staff specialists there for what I consider model providers.
‘Phil Hungerford, Chris Trethewy, Nick Ryan, and Matt Shepherd were incredibly supportive of all my endeavours up to and after having my children. I still look to them as successful consultants and fathers.’
He says his advice for others trying to manage the balance of work and children is to always ask for help – there is nothing too small.
‘Rarely are we actually alone and most of our family, friends and colleagues are actually interested and willing to help if they are told how they can help.
‘I have been incredibly lucky and not had to make many sacrifices between work and children and most of that has been possible due to the incredible support from my wife, mother and in-laws when it comes to helping with the children. It is because of them that my wife and I have been able to progress in our fields with minimal interruptions.