31 January 2024

Medical interns a welcome workforce boost for busy Illawarra hospitals

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Group of people in front of a building.

The new batch of Illawarra-Shoalhaven medical interns with Dr Preethy Raman, Director of Prevocational Education and Training and Staff Specialist, General Medicine. Photo: ISLHD.

The next generation of doctors has started work at hospitals in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven, providing a welcome boost to a struggling medical workforce.

The 76 medical graduate interns will work with experienced medical staff as they rotate across specialties including surgery, medicine and emergency medicine.

The medical graduates have completed their medical degree and are required to complete a supervised year of practice in order to become independent practitioners.

During the two-year program they rotate between metropolitan, regional and rural hospitals, receiving formal and on-the-job training.

Keira MP and Health Minister Ryan Park said the past couple of years had been challenging for Illawarra health teams.

“The previous government has left our health services in the Illawarra stretched and under-resourced so we’re incredibly focused on supporting and strengthening our workforce,” he said.

“When we provide boosts like this to our workforce, we improve health outcomes and build healthier and safer communities, it’s as simple as that.”

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Mr Park was joined by fellow Illawarra MPs Paul Scully, Anna Watson and Maryanne Stuart in welcoming the interns.

Mr Scully said the interns would help alleviate some of the pressure on existing staff, in the interests of patients, families and other staff.

“I look forward to seeing the skills of these new doctors develop and thrive in an environment where they will gain a range of experiences under the guidance of our region’s other highly skilled health professionals.”

Meanwhile, the NSW Government’s free virtualKIDS Urgent Care Service is now available to all children and families across the state.

The service – for children aged up to 16 with non-life-threatening health concerns – uses video conferencing technology to connect families with a clinical nurse to determine the best care pathway based on each child’s needs.

This may be visiting an emergency department, a consultation with a virtualKIDS expert paediatrician, a trip to the GP, or recovering at home with guidance for the family.

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The virtualKIDS pilot began in August 2021 during the height of the pandemic and saw more than 20,000 COVID-positive children receive specialist care in their own home.

The pilot was only for families within three local health districts that were home to specialist paediatric hospitals but since accepting calls from across NSW late last month, almost 1000 children and their families have benefitted.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said the free program could help avoid a stressful trip to an emergency department.

“It allows families to be seen faster while reducing pressure on already stretched emergency departments and our frontline healthcare workers,” he said.

Families can access virtualKIDS via a referral by calling healthdirect on 1800 022 222.

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