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Honours for medicos leading charge on COVID and doctor wellbeing

Published:  18 November 2021

Working tirelessly to ensure Townsville University Hospital’s emergency department was COVID ready and supporting and advocating for junior doctor wellbeing were the drivers behind prestigious medical leadership awards presented to two local doctors.

Dr Natalie Ly and Dr Alisha Thomson were among 13 doctors and medical teams honoured for excellence in practice by the health service.

Townsville Hospital and Health Service chief medical officer Dr Niall Small said the awards recognised the importance of supporting and mentoring emerging medical leaders.

“The pandemic has meant our health service has had to meet a range of new challenges,” he said.

“Natalie has been at the front of supporting staff, creating the response plans, and preparing the emergency department to provide the highest standard of ongoing readiness as the pandemic evolves across our local communities.

“Alisha’s leadership has ensured that junior doctors have continued to be mentored during very uncertain times and she has placed a strong emphasis on staff wellbeing in her practice which is so important in the high-stress environment of a busy, fast-paced hospital,” he said.

Dr Ly said she was surprised and delighted to win the emerging leader medical leadership award and thrilled to see two women honoured for leadership in medicine.

“I think that’s something pretty uncommon in contemporary medicine and I’m very proud,” she said.

Dr Ly said medical leadership was not something doctors were routinely taught.

“Going to medical school, then doing specialty training and becoming a consultant doesn’t include leadership on the curriculum,” she said.

“I know I’m a leader when I’m on the emergency department floor as is every other staff specialist who runs a shift; I’m so gratified by this award because it recognises my medical leadership outside the confines of the ED in developing a COVID plan that involves other areas of the hospital, our broader communities, and other agencies.”

Dr Thomson, who won the emerging leader doctor-in-training award, said her leadership role focused on communication and connection.

“Knowing what is going on in the hospital and asking the questions about where there needs to be better collaboration and connection to ensure the best possible care for our patients is the end goal,” she said.

“Enabling our medical workforce to do the best job they possibly can by advocating for their wellbeing and helping them strike that balance between looking after patients and participating in ongoing medical education is something I’m very passionate about,” she said.

The awards were presented at the recent Townsville Medical Staff Society (TMSS) annual gala.

TMSS president Dr James Coveton said the society was very proud of the diligent and innovative work of its members.

“This pride extends to each of the nominees and recipients in the other award categories, in particular to the junior staff whose diligence has also been formally recognised at these awards."

Townsville HHS doctors honoured at the awards were Dr Vana Sabesan, Dr Thomas Goregues, Professor Sabe Sabesan, Dr Rajesh Sehdev, Dr Katherine Holleran, Dr Aaron Boyce and dermatology team, Dr Shaileigh Gordon, Professor Jonathan Golledge, Dr Justin Smith, and Dr Kavitha Vangili.

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