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June 2013

Training program boosts Portland emergency department

Portland District Health’s capacity to handle emergency cases is being improved through a new training program.

The hospital has secured funding to provide 20 hours per week of on-the-job training and supervision by specialist emergency physicians.

Four PDH staff members are undertaking their Certificate of Emergency Medicine while being supervised by experienced emergency physicians as part of the program.

Funded by Health Workforce Australia, the program is primarily targeted at international medical graduates (IMG).

The aim is to improve training and clinical support of non-specialist doctors providing emergency medical care.

The PDH emergency department deals with almost 10,000 presentations per year.

PDH emergency physician and Director of Deakin University’s Centre for Rural Emergency Medicine Tim Baker said the Developing a Skilled Emergency Medicine Workforce in South West Victoria program would significantly improve the skills of IMGs who may have had limited emergency training before coming to Portland.

‘Instead of sending staff to Warrnambool for training, under this program they are taught on the job in an environment they are used to,’ Dr Baker said.

Emergency physicians from Warrnambool and Ballarat are delivering the training.

‘It is an excellent learning experience as the Portland staff can review patients under the direction of the emergency physicians, they can observe the physicians as they undertake the review or they can jointly do the review,’ Dr Baker said.

‘The IMGs will have increased skills when working alone because of the supervision and training they received.

‘Nursing and paramedic skills will also improve as the medical workforce adopts evidence-based emergency medicine practices.

‘The people of Portland and surrounding areas will benefit from this supervision and additional skills,’ Dr Baker said.

The program could be adopted in other rural centres.