Emergency department doctor tells all on rewarding work

IT can be difficult to stand back, take stock and pinpoint the most memorable moment after years spent working in hospital emergency departments.

But Dr David Little remembers one call that sent a shiver down his spine.

Back home in his native Scotland, the hospital he was working in got a call at 2am that there'd been a knife fight, and multiple casualties were expected at any minute.

The scourge of knife crime had earned Glasgow the title of the murder capital of Europe.

"It was some guys in Glasgow," Dr Little said.

"It ended up not being as bad as we thought it was going to be.

"I think you mentally prepare for the very, very worst."

It's impossible to predict just what is going to come through the doors next.

That's what the St Andrew's Ipswich Private Hospital emergency doctor loves about his job.

He has been working in the unit since it opened last year but has worked in Ipswich for eight years, and in EDs across southeast Queensland since he arrived in the country.

"In the afternoon you often walk into a shift and it's bedlam and you just take it over and just go with it," he said.

"You see all ages, all types of medical and surgical, orthopaedic and obstetric conditions. It's a whole variety, This morning I've taken something out of someone's eye.

"There's a whole host of different things, which is half of the fun. It's the variety that's enjoyable."

Dr Little said the department had only gotten busier since it opened more than a year ago as part of the hospital's $64 million development.

In what can be a stressful environment at times, strong communication with fellow doctors and time management is crucial.

Being in the thick of dealing with trauma could take its toll but having the mechanisms in place to cope was important, Dr Little said.

Ensuring colleagues are travelling OK and checking in with them regularly was crucial.

"I think the busiest day was 52 or 53 (people), which for two day doctors and one night, it keeps you busy," he said.

Dr Little said he had worked in several different fields of medicine but the chance to do a bit of everything, sometimes in the course of one 10-hour shift, drew him to life in the ED.

"It's the fact you can help solve people's problems there and then and get it done," he said.

"If someone puts a shoulder out, you can put it back in. That acute pain is gone and the frown on the fact turns to a smile. It's just satisfying.

"What you're doing is making a difference to people."

Dr Little worked shifts at St Andrew's as a junior doctor and two of his kids were born there.

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