WHEN it’s one-on-one with a patient, who is literally about to put his life in your hands before falling asleep, and he trusts you completely, that’s a bond really really strong.
These are the words of Anesthesia Registrar Dr Milonee Shah, who is part of a cohort of 90 new doctors and 41 nurses who have just started work at Northern Beaches Hospital.
Newcomers work with the best and brightest in the hospital as they hone their skills and begin their healthcare careers.
Dr. Shah and graduate registered nurse Willamina Lockhart are among the northern beach residents in the cohort.
A general anesthetic can last as little as 10 minutes and as long as 10 hours, and one of the most common questions asked of Dr Shah, 27, when people find out she is an anesthetist is “what do you do while that your patient is sleeping?”.
“Our job is to mimic the normal functions of the human body,” she explained. “I manage the effects of the drugs we provide to put patients to sleep and maintain their anesthesia, so we are constantly checking their vital signs.
You entrust your life to someone else.
Registrar Anaesthetist Dr Milonee Shah
“For larger procedures where there is a lot of blood loss or there is concern about heart or brain function, we will need to constantly monitor them by taking blood samples throughout the procedure or checking brain activity throughout the procedure.
“We have to time when the surgeons start closing or when they’re about to finish their procedure, and when is the best time to wake the patient up appropriately, so that when they start to regain their reflexes and they’re starting to wake up, it shouldn’t be traumatic for them.”
A resident of Frenchs Forest, Dr Shah realized early on that intensive care was right for her.
“What really appealed to me about anesthetics, in particular, is that we have one-on-one interaction with patients in the anesthesia room,” she said. “You entrust your life to someone else.”
Dr Shah also thrives in team care scenarios. “I really like challenging, high-energy, dynamic situations,” she said. “In intensive care you work with a new team every day and it is usually a very skilled multidisciplinary team.
Dr Shah hopes that in the future she can work with recovery teams, such as CareFlight. “I’m particularly interested in recovery medicine and expedition medicine,” she said. “I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie myself and love adventure, scuba diving and hiking and the idea of being able to combine my passions with my job would be pretty cool.”
All in the family
Ms Lockhart, 22, knew from an early age that she wanted to be a nurse. “My mom is a nurse and we’ve always had nurses in the family, so it was always there. In everything I’ve done, it was a possibility,” she said.
The Dee Why resident completed her nursing degree at Australian Catholic University and next year will do two rotations at the hospital.
“You can put in your preferences for whatever you want and I put in surgery and medicine,” she said. “These are the broadest services you can get, I just want to get a general idea of nursing first and then perfect myself.
“In college I wanted to go to the ER, but I feel like if I were to end up in the ER I would want a lot of experience first, so I have everything there. and I know what to look for.”
Teaching at its best
Northern Beaches Hospital’s chief medical officer, Associate Professor Peter Thomas, is among those teaching the cohort. “NBH is now well regarded as a teaching hospital and young local clinicians are choosing to join us so they can care for their local community,” he said.
“For junior military doctors, this is the first year of their professional career where they practice the skills they learned as students.
“They work on rotations in different specialties each term to ensure they are fully trained in all facets of clinical care.”
Over the past 12 months, the hospital has introduced more local learning in partnership with Macquarie University, among others.
“We take great pride in providing a high standard of education and training, with dedicated supervisors, teachers and a JMO unit that supports all activities related to enrolment, training, education and to the well-being of young doctors,” said Professor Assoc Thomas.
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