Dr Phillip Webster, first-year advanced trainee in emergency medicine, Gosford Hospital, and deputy chair of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine trainee committee.
Why did you decide to specialise in emergency medicine?
I found that whenever I was working in the emergency department as a prevocational doctor, I enjoyed my job the most. I was happy. I like the excitement of it, the fact that it’s something different every day. There’s such a wide variety, from sprains and fractures, to sepsis and major trauma. There’s never a dull moment.
What are you enjoying about the training?
The emergency medicine training program has massive flexibility. One of the best things is that you spend 18 months training outside the emergency department, which means you can gain loads of extra skills. I’ve spent time doing anaesthetics and am soon to do some intensive care, plus I’m hoping to do some paediatric emergency medicine. Some people also arrange overseas training experiences, say for 6 months, and apply to the college to have it accredited to their training. As long as everything’s arranged well in advance, the college is quite accommodating.
What do you dislike/find challenging?
You do have to do a lot of shiftwork, including weekends. Some people find that tough, but the advantage is you get time off during the week which is great if you have a family. You generally also work a 40-hour week, with no on-call, so your time off is really your time off. That suits me. We can go away for a few days in the middle of the week, or go to a restaurant on a weekday and not have to fight to get in. The emergency department can be stressful, and sometimes you feel exhausted after a shift. But it works if you make the most of your time off — I tend to get outdoors, go for a surf or a run. That helps.
What do you want to do once you’ve completed the training?
I’ll probably stay in New South Wales as an emergency physician. I’m also keen to get more involved in education — promoting and improving emergency medicine and health care where I live.
Do you have any specific mentors in medicine, or emergency medicine specifically?
I spent 6 years training in the United Kingdom, including a couple of years as a non-accredited emergency medicine trainee. I was inspired to study emergency medicine in Australia by an Australasian specialist I worked with in the UK. He was quite different from the other specialists and epitomised what I thought a good emergency physician should be. He was a supportive leader who combined expert knowledge and skills with honest compassion and a good sense of humour.
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