25 June 2019
News Category: 

The Emergency Department is at the heart of The Royal Melbourne Hospital and is often the first place patients come when they arrive.

Specialist Emergency Physicians work as part of the team in The Royal Melbourne Emergency Department. An Emergency Physician is a doctor, who after completing medical school, has undertaken a five year training program in the practice of Emergency Medicine with rigorous examination processes.

During their last year of specialist Emergency Medicine training, doctors must complete a final oral and written exam. Every exam, the highest scoring candidate from among hundreds across Australia and New Zealand, is awarded The Buchanan Prize.

The Buchanan prize is named after Dr Peter Buchanan, one of the founders of the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine and a man widely respected for believing in the value of excellence in Emergency Medicine Specialists and trainees, at a time when such specialised physicians were mostly unheard of.

In 2018, Dr Amy McAllister, and in 2019, Dr Lisa Walker, both Royal Melbourne Hospital emergency trainees were successful in being awarded The Buchanan Prize. Currently, The Royal Melbourne Hospital Emergency Department employs five Buchanan Prize winners.

Dr Mya Cubitt, who won the award in 2013, says most people probably don’t know what an Emergency Physician is – and hopefully never need to meet one.

“Emergency Physicians deliver excellence in care to acutely unwell and injured patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We have the knowledge and skills necessary to advocate for patients in times of urgent healthcare needs,” Dr Cubitt said.

Dr Alex Paspaliaris, who won the prize in 2001, now teaches and examines doctors going through the training program and says the average pass rate for the final exam is around 40 per cent, but within the Royal Melbourne, it’s around 90 per cent.

“The Australasian Emergency Medicine training program is one of the hardest and most highly recognised in the world,” Dr Paspaliaris said.

Dr Emma West, Royal Melbourne’s Director of Emergency Medical Training, also won the prize in 2007, and says “at The Royal Melbourne, we set the bar high”.

“We do set the bar high and we work closely with the candidates going through the exam to support them. I’m very proud of Amy and Lisa’s achievements,” Dr West said.

Both Dr Walker and Dr McAllister were drawn to working in emergency medicine because of the daily challenge and the team environment.

“Every day is different and comes with new challenges and different patients. No one day is the same. We choose Emergency Medicine because we are passionate about critical care,” Dr Walker said.

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