Dr Michael Kennedy reflects on his experience as a phone counsellor for the Queensland Doctor’s Health Programme, and encourages others to consider joining the team.
Years ago an opportunity arose. It was akin to a tap on the shoulder. I began this job of taking the calls for DHAS(Q), now the Queensland Doctor’s Health Programme.
I was a GP with about 10 years experience out in general practice. It doesn’t have to be a big earth shattering decision to do this, for me it was largely spontaneous and I just got on with it. Although things are a little different now compared to over 20 years ago.
I find GPs are well suited to this job. To be able to listen to the person on the other end of the line and get as much information as you can, not only the story, but the accent, anxiety level etc. You need to be able to write quickly. I imagine the modern doctors are able to write still, as my writing deteriorated much before the keyboard. You are involved more often with problems arising in the more bureaucratic world in which we now live. students and registrar level in my experience.
Anyway, why would one want to do it ?
Well, it is interesting actually and over time you get to know more about doctors health. Another string to your bow, so to speak.
You will be involved with another group of doctors involved in this. I remember looking at the list of names and seeing people’s names who I respected and knew were capable doctors. So in that sense its nice to be part of something like this.
YOU may get a fuzzy feeling because you are helping your colleagues.
Or a sense of satisfaction because you’re doing your bit in the bigger medical community without the fanfare. Does that sound boring? Not really!
You know to always ask a busy person if you want something done.
I believe that you need to feel supported and I think that this has improved since the early days. So it is important not to feel that one has to solve things straight away, rather to communicate to see what can be done, and this is where the support is needed and possible follow up.
Well I hope that maybe one reading this may start to consider this as a thread in their medical coat or dress.
Any rate, enjoy this part of your medical life and know that some doctors have been helped and careers changed by your discipline and learning.
All the best, whatever you may decide.
The QDHP is an organisation established by the Doctors’ Health Advisory Service (Qld) to assist colleagues who may be in difficulty. Their aim is to support doctors and medical students in Queensland to achieve optimal health and wellbeing throughout their careers.