Sunshine Coast Health welcomes dozens of new junior doctors

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Kayla Scully, recent Griffith University Doctor of Medicine graduate and SCHHS Junior Doctor.

Sixty-six new medical interns have joined Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service (SCHHS), contributing to the strengthening of our region’s future health workforce.

The new interns, also referred to as junior doctors, will participate in a week-long orientation program to familiarise themselves with each of the health service’s hospitals and clinical practices and procedures, before beginning their rotational duties.

Academic Lead Griffith University Sunshine Coast and SCHHS A/Director of Clinical Training Jen Williams said starting as an intern is a landmark occasion in a doctor’s career, which will be made all the more challenging for this year’s cohort given the rapidly unfolding COVID-19 pandemic.

“Many interns have dreamed of being a doctor since they were very young, and this month they reach that milestone and will finally be able to say to their patients ‘I'm the doctor looking after you’.

“Interns are the most junior doctors on the team, but nevertheless they are expected to demonstrate leadership, maturity, equanimity and humility. They must learn to apply their vast knowledge to new situations every day and will need to learn the culture of SCHHS rapidly in order to assimilate successfully within the healthcare team.

“The lucky group of interns allocated to SCHHS stand to benefit from the best of both worlds; working in a hospital that is big enough to have a wide range of clinically interesting and challenging patients, yet small enough to provide individualised training and support to staff.

“Interns must complete terms in general medicine, surgery and emergency medicine, as well as two or more elective placements, in order to obtain general registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

“Some interns may already be keen on a particular specialist career path while others will find their area of interest as they rotate through their placements. They will be under scrutiny from their supervisors, the multidisciplinary team, and most importantly, their patients.

"The healthcare system supports interns to gain the experience and expertise that they will require to be a fully-fledged, independently-practising doctor after one year. Most interns will go on to complete specialty training over the next decade, and to contribute to the health of our communities for many years to come,” Associate Professor Williams said.

Kayla Scully is one of Griffith University’s Doctor of Medicine graduates commencing with SCHHS this week, and said she is excited to be starting her medical career on the Coast after completing two years of clinical placement at Sunshine Coast University Hospital.

“During my final years of medical school, I really got to know the staff and appreciate their commitment to learning and teaching, so I feel very fortunate to be working with them again. Passionate teachers, supportive colleagues, and a friendly community – what's not to love.”

As a budding haematologist, Kayla said growing up with a mother who had chronic health issues was what initially led her to be interested in diseases and the human body.

“I originally graduated as a scientist and worked in a pathology laboratory, but I soon realised that I was only seeing one side of the coin. I was missing out on engaging with and caring for patients on their illness journeys, and that was something incredibly important to me after seeing how doctors had helped my mother as a child.

“Haematology is an incredible and diverse discipline that focuses on individuals with various conditions affecting their blood cells or blood clotting. Patients who experience haematological illness are often some of the most vulnerable and unwell patients in the hospital. To be able to join them on that journey while keeping my pathology scientist roots is one of the most rewarding things I could think to do with my medical career,” Kayla said.

SCHHS Chief Executive Dr Peter Gillies said the health service was proud to welcome the new interns and support them through the provision of excellent clinical education and experience.

“It’s greatly encouraging to have 66 junior doctors joining us in 2022. The application process is always competitive, and this year’s interns are of a very high calibre.

“These young doctors have already spent years completing their undergraduate training, and are now entering a new and exciting, but demanding, period of their careers.

“The intern year is a very important one, when clinical management, communication and professional skills are consolidated under the close guidance and supervision of more senior colleagues.

“As hospital interns, they will be vital members of staff, helping to meet the ever-increasing demand for health services across the Sunshine Coast and surrounding areas.

“I wish them all the best as they embark on this next chapter and start their first year as a medical professional, and we hope many of them will have a passion to practice long term on the Sunshine Coast,” Dr Gillies said.