Johnny Cash of emergency medicine

FACEM Professor Ian Rogers’ career has taken him to so many places you could say he is the Johnny Cash of emergency medicine.

You see, Johnny Cash was one of a number of artists to make popular the song ‘I’ve Been Everywhere’, written and first performed by Australian entertainer Geoff Mack in 1959.

“My conversations with colleagues used to start with them asking ‘where are you working now’,” Professor Rogers says.

One of the early graduates of the Australasian emergency medicine training program, Professor Rogers has had a wide-ranging career in Victoria, New Zealand and Western Australia as a clinician, emergency medicine educator and researcher.

And it is insights from this career that he will bring to table when he speaks at the 2019 ACEM Winter Symposium in April.

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The 2019 ACEM Winter Symposium will be held from 30 April – 3 May in Rotorua, New Zealand.

Check out the 2019 ACEM Winter Symposium website for the program, workshops and social functions.

Register now.

Looking back to look forward

Professor Rogers is Adjunct Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Notre Dame in Perth. He works at St John of God Murdoch Hospital, Western Australia’s only private emergency department.

In Rotorua, he will lay bare his four decades in emergency medicine in a talk titled ‘the challenges change, but they don’t go away.’

“We are into our fourth decade of emergency medicine and you can identify key themes in each,” Professor Rogers says. “The first is the decade of teaching and learning where we were learning to practise the craft of what became emergency medicine.”

The second decade is one of recognition and registration, according to Professor Rogers. This is when the speciality of emergency medicine was officially recognised but also when it became structurally recognised. That is, becoming an important part of hospitals and how they work.

“The third decade is when we became the system problem solvers,” Professor Rogers says. “We understand patient flow better than anyone else and so we are constantly coming up with new ideas, new ways to improve this issue for the betterment of our patients.”

The fourth decade Professor Rogers views as the “social warrior decade”. “If you look at the sort of issues occupying colleges’ time nowadays we’ve got everything from physician-assisted dying, pill testing, refugee health, and ethically investing college funds,” he says. In fact, ACEM President Dr Simon Judkins has publicly declared specialist medical colleges increasingly have a significant role to play in health advocacy, and that emergency medicine is about social justice, fairness and equality.

Professor Rogers says he will not be casting judgment on the various decades, rather “it is really important for people to see that progression”.

“As the old saying goes ‘you can’t really feel for the future if you don’t understand your past’,” Professor Rogers says. “And I think the present for a lot of our trainees and new Fellows is a focus on those social issues – which are very important and very worthy – but that has to be on that solid base of all of those things that have happened in the past and need to continue in the future. We need to be well educated, we need to make sure our speciality has its proper and right place within the health system and we need to continue to try and solve those system problems.”

The importance of growth

Professor Rogers’ talk will go to the heart of growth and development in emergency medicine. “Emergency physicians almost by personality are sort of ‘change junkies’,” he said. “That stereotype of the short-attention span, instant gratification. It is in our DNA. I think we actually constantly look for variety, for change, for a new challenge.”

Asked why he loves emergency medicine, Professor Rogers responds: “Because it constantly presents challenges. You don’t just keep doing the same, same, same. When you are in the emergency department, you don’t know what patient and what problem is behind the curtain in cubicle 11.

“In a broader sense, you just don’t know what the next challenges are going to be in emergency medicine and how we are going to deal with them.”

Vivre la difference!

Professor Rogers’ talk, to be held on Thursday 2 May, will be part of a plenary called Vivre la difference!, which will look at the journey of emergency medicine in New Zealand and Australia from 1993 to 2019. Also speaking will be FACEM Dr Tim Parke.

Winter Symposium Convenor Dr Peter Freeman said: “It is fitting for Ian to be invited back to Rotorua as a guest speaker.

“When Ian was the DEMT at Auckland City Hospital he organised the first ever Winter Symposium in Rotorua in 1997. I remember well an amazing conference dinner held in the old Museum in Rotorua and the theme was Phantom of the Opera – a dramatic event and great success for Ian.

“So Ian can be credited for starting the Winter Symposium.”

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