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A rewarding career working with children

Southern Health
By Sue Goss
The Age

Working with children is quite different from working with adults. ``Children are fun, they play games and don't have issues like us,'' says Dr Lilian Johnstone, HMO coordinator for the Children's Program and one of Southern Health's paediatric kidney specialists.

``But their care can be very complex: the spectrum of their illness is broad and the intellectual stimulus is considerable. The dialogue required is different because you are always talking to the child in the context of the family.''

There are two tertiary paediatric training hospitals in Victoria _ the Royal Children's Hospital and Monash Medical Centre. A conjoint training program provides training in both and rotations through secondments to Geelong, Sunshine, Northern and FrankstonHospitals plus tertiary neonatal units. The advantage of the Conjoint Program is that trainees can satisfy all the training requirements of the Paediatric and Child Health Division of the RACP. Southern Health provides neonatal exposure through `Monash Newborn' and the Children's provides a broader range of specialty areas.

Paediatrics is very popular and competitive. The earliest entry point is HMO2 but only 50 per cent are successful. Those who want to try again may take up relevant positions elsewhere to give them further general experience and enter the training program at HMO3 or HMO4 level.

Southern Health has many areas outside the conjoint training program for training in paediatrics. Opportunities in advanced training include neonatal medicine and many sub-specialties as well as adolescent medicine, child psychiatry, paediatric emergency medicine and rehabilitation.

The growing hospitals of Dandenong and Casey also have programs specially designed for doctors who wish to try out paediatrics before committing, or as part of training in other disciplines.

General paediatric registrar positions are increasing at Casey and some of this work can be accredited with the College.

``It is very important in our view that we, at Southern Health, can offer all facets of paediatric training within the context of a large general hospital,'' says Dr Johnstone. ``Paediatrics here can be linked with adult subspecialities and with active research units for dialogue.''

Dr Ciara Earley is the senior paediatric registrar at Southern Health. Having done her basic training in Ireland, she did a further year in neonatal and six months in paediatric emergency.

Why paediatrics?

``After my first year of working with adults I decided that I liked working with people at the beginning of their lives rather than later on,'' she says.``It is interesting and varied. I have also liked working in different hospitals here but Southern is particularly good as they cover almost everything.''


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