Dr Luke Bannon is an anaesthetist working in Port Macquarie. Support for Rural Specialists in Australia (SRSA) program funding enabled him to attend the Emergency Medicine Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM).
At the ASM, Dr Bannon reviewed the practical aspects of running an emergency activity course. The insights he gained from this course allowed him to deliver a workshop called Can’t Intubate Can’t Oxygenate (CICO)/Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) in Port Macquarie.
Anaesthetic specialists, general practice (GP) anaesthetists, Emergency Medicine and Intensive Care visiting medical officers and anaesthetic nursing staff from across the area health network were among the 25 people who attended.
Dr Bannon kindly spoke with the SRSA Blog team about his career and interaction with the SRSA Program.
Why did you become a consultant anaesthetist?
As a junior in medical school I always felt anaesthetists were a decent bunch who had their work life balance under control. They looked after one patient at a time while other specialities or registrars had to do 10 things on the go. They seemed to have a great mix of academic and hands on patient interaction. Also, I didn’t want to be in clinic all the time.
How did you find out about the SRSA program?
By email and a quick flick through the program website. I followed the links on the website which was very easy and straight forward to follow. The process of applying for the grant was also very simple.
In your experience, what are some of the main benefits of the SRSA program?
Having a specific funding stream targeting rural specialists makes one feel appreciated and valued. The process to apply for funds is very easy. Even when there was an issue with my dates, a quick email to you to amend my continuing professional development (CPD) activity dates easily resolved the issue. It was never a problem and you helped to address this.
Can you briefly discuss the recent CICO and ACLS workshop? How did SRSA funding support the workshop?
Whilst originally planning on attending the Anaesthetic ASM CICO Workshop in Brisbane to see how these CICO workshops are run, I ended up attending a similar workshop at the Emergency ASM in Sydney. Whilst a pre-requisite for CPD in the anaesthetic college, I realised the importance of all critical care specialists being able to speak the same language when it comes to airway management. Despite this, we often go to separate courses. Having a combined workshop, at a local level, was so useful in terms of finding a common language that we are all happy to use in high pressure, time critical situations. From a practical perspective, we were able to agree on common equipment in our difficult airway trolleys and the ongoing collegiality and “I’ve got your back and you’ve got my back” sentiment is priceless in very stressful situations, when a team approach is paramount. It is great to have accessed the SRSA funding and for this to have facilitated this communal approach to airway management in our area health network.
How have other professionals benefited from you being awarded SRSA program funding?
Many specialists met each other for the first time at the course; we are so often siloed into our sub-speciality areas that there are less opportunities to meet each other or we are busy working at different hospitals. Having met a colleague previously, makes it so much easier to interact in an emergency / time critical scenario Like all health services, at some point we have been presented with dealing with difficult airways in an emergency situation. Combining the training day has meant other speciality groups, such as GP Anaesthetists have felt supported. Obviously, the completion of CPD requirements was a bonus. There was certainly an impetus to repeat the course on a regular basis.
All of this was done for about 10 per-cent of the price of other courses. I estimate the overall saving of the funding that was given to me to run the workshop at a local level is approaching $100,000. The workshops in Sydney cost rural specialists in the region of $3,500 by the time we fly down and pay for hotels and registration, not to mention the costs of lost productivity and income whilst travelling. The financial savings are enormous when 25-30 people do that at a local level for just $325 per delegate.
Do you have any advice for other rural specialists?
I have no advice for those already working rurally as they have already seen the light. My advice for trainees coming up the ranks is to give it a go! Having trained in major teaching hospitals in Brisbane, personally I couldn’t go back to working in a major centre again. Regional centres have a much more balanced feel to them.