• Supporting doctors’ health – the Health Professionals’ Health Conference 2013

    Avant’s commitment to supporting the wellbeing of doctors saw us sponsoring the Health Professionals’ Health Conference in October 2013.

    With the theme ‘Caring for you, caring for others’, the conference reinforced how vital it is for health professionals to take care of their own mental and physical wellbeing. It not only explored many aspects of health for health practitioners, but also highlighted the need to ensure that doctors, particularly junior doctors, know where to turn to for help when they need it.


    Avant sponsored five medical students to attend the conference.

    Read what one of our student members, Emily Jansen, said about the conference

    As one of the four winners of Avant’s recent student health competition, I was fortunate enough to attend the Health Professionals’ Health Conference in Brisbane. It was empowering to see representatives from all aspects of the medical profession gathered to discuss the magnitude and complexity of these problems.

    It was a combined show of solidarity and support. Any medical practitioner can be affected, and medical students are not immune.

    I learned that as medical students, we should be confronting these issues now, in medical school, before the overtime and the excessive responsibility take over, and before the consequences of our potential burn-out become overwhelming.

    The beyondblue report, released in October 2013, found that many doctors believed people thought less of their peers who had experienced depression or anxiety, but if anything, attending the Health Practitioner’s Health Conference illustrated to me the importance of communicating our struggles with our peers. Who can we turn to for safe harbour if not other medical professionals?

    My fellow medical students, advocate to your medical school for more pastoral support. Practice self-help and learn your limits. Reach out to your peers, and facilitate regular and non-judgemental discussions about your issues. At the end of the day, we will be better doctors for the self-awareness that we cultivate in the process.

    Read what former Avant Student Advisory Council (ASAC) chair Jen McAuliffe had to say about the conference

    In my final months as a medical student, I was privileged as the Avant Student Advisory Council (ASAC) Chair to attend the inaugural meeting of the Health Professionals’ Health Conference 2013 in Brisbane, which was sponsored by Avant. Formerly known as the Doctors' Health Conference, it focused on the health of practitioners and how to best support and nurture our wellbeing in order to maintain quality patient care.

    Over two days, I attended plenaries and workshops that covered topics from mandatory reporting to compassion fatigue and singing – yes, singing. While the former was a little more sobering, especially given the much greater risk surrounding junior doctors, which I am about to become, the Singing for Health workshop provided light relief.

    The conference gave me a fantastic insight into another side of our profession and a different view of the bigger wellbeing picture, which recently made headlines thanks to beyondblue’s National Mental Health Survey of Doctors and Medical Students.

    This survey showed what we already know to some extent: that we are at a greater risk of stress, anxiety, depression and burn-out as compared to the general population.