Upskilling and building connections for workforce retention

  • Emergency sign
The Royal Hobart Hospital
Dr Juan Carlos
Staff Specialist, Emergency Medicine

The Royal Hobart Hospital Emergency Skills Techniques and Resus Training (RESTART), Rural Emergency Direct Observation (REDO) and Career Medical Officer (CMO) program has been developed to support those who work in a rural setting, to allow them to continue to work in their community or to upskill before they go out to their community.

The Royal Hobart Hospital (the Royal), while located in a capital city, helps support the rural community across southern Tasmania. Part of the ethos within the emergency department (ED) is that we not only care for patients within our department, but also those in a rural setting.

The Emergency Medicine Education and Training (EMET) program has allowed us to go out into the community to provide emergency medicine education to centres from Dover to Bicheno. Up until now, we have been concentrating on delivering an amazing program to those general practitioners (GPs) who work in rural areas, helping to ensure they know how to deliver emergency care to those who need it. The benefit of this program is that it has provided support, comradery and the tools to treat – helping to keep amazing doctors in these rural areas.

This year, we are looking to expand our program. The goal will be to train doctors in house and provide programs to those who work remotely. The benefit of this will be ongoing connections and upskilling in a tertiary centre, support for those in rural areas, and the benefit of retaining those in rural zones and upskilling those that want to start their rural career.

The brainchild for this came by way of our initial success with Dr Emilie (Em) Smethurst. Em came to the Royal to complete her Emergency Diploma. In fact, she was the first person in Tasmania to complete the advanced diploma. Once this was completed she set off to work on Flinders Island, where she has now been for over a year. We were able to help Em gain the skills and knowledge to be able to go out and work in this very remote community and give first-class emergency care. More important is the connection we still have with her – taking calls to support her with difficult cases if needed.

This year at the Royal, we will continue our RESTART program, which supports those sitting the emergency certificate and diploma. These monthly education sessions supplement the on-floor education. However, we are developing our RESTART REDO workshops that will encompass cardiac emergencies, paediatric emergencies and ultrasound. All these will be single-day workshops to upskill and maintain emergency skills.

We have been lucky enough to be able to create a CMO position for those with relevant skills and training in emergency medicine (or to get them to that level with our RESTART program). The benefit is that we fully appreciate and recognise the importance of our rural practitioners. We will be able to offer regular shifts that fit in with the needs of their community. Rather than doing shift work, they could choose to work a regular evening shift that fits in around their practice. Having discussed this with our rural colleagues, we understand it will allow them to continue their care in rural areas, know for the year the days they will work in our ED, as well as maintain their emergency skills and continue to upskill in a tertiary centre that holds their rural work at the core.

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