If you’ve been down to the triage and ambulatory care part of our emergency department recently, you might have bumped into one of our Medical Support Officers (MSOs).

It’s a new role within the ED team which is being filled by eager final year medical students, who are helping to increase the flow of patients by doing a range of different tasks before they get seen by a doctor.

University of Melbourne final year medical student, Marie Papadopulos, is one of our new MSOs and explained more about the role, and how it is supporting great care.

“So we sort of fast track a bit of patient care by doing any sort of rudimentary tests – such as blood tests, ECGs and especially COVID testing,” Marie said.

“This means that when patients do get reviewed, there’s already some results back.

“I also feel like a big part of our role is helping patients to feel like their care has been initiated at an early stage after their arrival to ED, before the doctors - who are so busy - have time to see them.”

Like most of our MSOs, Marie had previously worked at the RMH as a COVID-19 vaccinator and as part of our COVID-19 screening team, and jumped at the opportunity of joining the team in ED.

“It’s great. It’s a very hectic environment but it’s also a really good and supportive environment,” Marie added.

“I think I personally thrive in a team, and the emergency department is just a whole big team, everyone’s working together.

“The bread and butter procedural skills that you practice as an MSO – like putting in drips and taking blood – also gives you invaluable experience, and these tasks can be quite daunting at times for med students.

“But, being part of the team has boosted my confidence going forward into my medical career and I’m sure that’s the same for a lot of other MSOs as well, which is really fantastic.”

Since the role was introduced earlier this year, MSOs have continued to make a significant impact by collectively carrying out around 120-150 tasks each day.

Director of Emergency Mark Putland explained more about the positive impact they are having on out of front care.

“Our MSOs are all very keen to be learning news tasks, and are getting a whole lot of insight with every shift,” Mark said.

“They are also making a real impact in terms of the care we provide, and are helping to give nurses and other members of the ED team more space to care, by performing some of the tasks that they would generally do.

“We think this model has real benefits – both in terms of patient safety and staff wellbeing – and it’s helping to deliver a huge improvement in care out the front for affected patients.”

Mobile Stroke Unit with Ambulance Victoria paramedic and the RMH Stroke team
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