Previously a veterinary nurse, Ebony Cameron moved over to human emergency medicine nine years ago and has been at the Royal Melbourne Hospital ever since.
“As a vet nurse you’re also really dealing with the humans, providing compassion and care to the owner, which is a big part of what I do here.”
“You can make a huge difference in someone’s life, health and recovery by providing empathy, compassion and care during what can be the scariest moments of someone’s life. We have a very important role in critical care. It’s a huge privilege to do what we do. It is a special feeling when your efforts are recognized and appreciated.”
Family events influenced her career change. When her mother was in ICU, she wanted to understand more of what was going on. Having a father and brother both go through cancer treatment also influenced her decision to help her family and others.
Ebony’s mentor is Senior Emergency Doctor Emma West, who she met in her graduate year. “I saw how cool, calm and collected she is. She can talk to some of the most difficult patients and still provide professional care. I told Emma a few years ago that she’s my idol, to her surprise!”
Dr Mya CubittEmergency Doctor
Emergency doctor Mya Cubitt has worked in The Royal Melbourne Hospital emergency department for five years.
“I have the privilege to talk to patients about their experiences, their resilience and outlook on the world. They are sometimes going through some horrendous stuff which gives you humility in the way you approach the rest of your life.”
A mother of three young children, including 4-year-old twins, Mya works in the same emergency department as her husband Bjorn Makein.
“The question comes up all the time – how do I work in the same department, on the same shift, at the same time as my husband, that must drive you guys nuts? “It’s actually the complete opposite.”
“Bjorn and I met at university, so our whole medical career has been with each other. We have different strengths and weaknesses and I’m grateful to have his input – I’m a better doctor for it. ”
Dr Luke De La RueEmergency Physician
Dr Luke De La Rue has trained in emergency departments big and small all over Australia and the world, and now calls the Royal Melbourne ‘home’.
Hailing from regional town of Colac in Western Victoria, Dr Luke has become used to the noise and hustle of city work. “It’s a nice feeling to receive a busy department at handover and then over the next few hours create order out of the chaos.”
“I like the randomness and the spontaneity of the job, you can be chatting to someone about their life and family one minute and the next minute managing a cardiac arrest or major trauma.”
Dr Luke knows the key to helping patients is reassurance for their worries. “You can do everything right medically, but if you don’t communicate this to them properly or deal with their main concerns then they’ll often continue to worry.”
He marvels at the resilience of many patients, especially those around 90 years old. “They’ve always had amazing lives and have a certain robustness about them that has gotten them there.”
“I’ve never had a normal 9-5 job, I work a lot of weekends, nights and unsociable hours – but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Dr Michael DunneEmergency Doctor
Dr. Michael Dunne moved to Melbourne from Ireland after a google search of the most liveable cities in the world led him here.
He joined The Royal Melbourne Hospital Emergency team more than three years ago.
Hailing from a long line of architects, Michael decided to pursue a career in medicine.
“I found my passion in emergency medicine. Helping people through some of the scariest times in their lives is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job.”
“My job ranges from needing to perform life-saving procedures to offering reassurance to patients and their loved ones.”
“You never know what challenges each day will bring and you have to be prepared for any situation.”
Julia HoilesEmergency Nurse
Nurse Julia Hoiles fell in love with emergency nursing ten years ago and can’t imagine doing anything else.
“Working in Resus and Trauma, you run with a whole range of emotions and adrenaline”, she says.
“You never know what you’re going to deal with on any given day but it’s so rewarding treating people who have come to the hospital because they sick and need your help.”
“You see the worst of the worst and the best of the best, it’s not like any other workplace.”
Dr Bjorn MakeinEmergency Doctor
Dr Bjorn Makein has been an emergency doctor for nearly 15 years, the last five at The Royal Melbourne Hospital.
“We choose to do our job because we believe we can make a difference.”
“We are often dealing with people who are having the worst day of their life and in some ways, it is a privilege to be there to try and help them.
On working with his wife emergency doctor Mya Cubbitt, Bjorn says:
“There’s no canoodling in the storerooms, if people fear that maybe we’re going to deteriorate into some marital tiff in the middle of the department, that hasn’t happened yet and I hope it never will.
“She’s a brilliant doctor and I’m so lucky to be able to work with her.
Kelsey O’NeilEmergency Nurse
Nurse Kelsey O’Neil began her first year of nursing in the Emergency Department. She loved the hustle and bustle so much she hasn’t looked back.
“The Emergency Department is fast paced, exhilarating and terrifying. There are 45 million jobs on your mind at any one time and it’s a pressure like no other.”
Kelsey’s key is to quickly develop trust and a connection with patients, to help reassure them during a frightening and often painful time. A favourite moment was being able to deliver a beer to a firefighter with smoke inhalation, who was stuck in hospital on his birthday.
With her adrenaline-packed workload, Kelsey likes to relax by heading home to the country to visit her family and friends and soaking up some fresh air.
“I also love to teach my dog new tricks. I have a 4-year-old border collie who can’t sit still and loves my attention, so I spend lots of my day with him.”
Dr Jonathan PapsonSenior Emergency Doctor
A 20-year veteran of The Royal Melbourne Hospital emergency department, Dr Jonathan Papson’s experience and dry sense of humour makes him a popular member of the team.
The father of three daughters, Jonathan says he still feels like a young registrar starting out and is surprised when people refer to him as one of “old guys”.
“I love making order out of chaos which is what emergency is about – trying to fix things, fix people.”
“But having the fate of the patient and potentially serious problems in your hands is a big responsibility.”
“We’re experienced and trained to deal with it but that plays on your mind all the time every decision I make, is it the right decision?”
Dr Mark PutlandDirector of The Royal Melbourne Hospital Emergency Department
Dr Mark Putland is director of The Royal Melbourne Hospital’s emergency department, in charge of one of the biggest and busiest trauma centres in Australia.
Mark oversees a team of emergency doctors on call 24/7 to treat more than 200 patients a day suffering everything from a sprained ankle to life threatening injuries.
“If you’re meeting me then you are sometimes having the worst day of your life, but we are there to take care of people so we always put the patient first.”
Mark says his staff look out for each other because there are times when their jobs are very challenging.
“It’s really important being prepared to take care of each other, because our job can be very difficult, emotionally and intellectually, in ways that people can’t even put into words.”
Dr Scott TaylorRegistrar
After a knee operation at the age of 14, Dr Scott Taylor thought he’d become an orthopaedic surgeon. Before that, he wanted to be a palaeontologist and flirted with becoming a professional basketballer or footballer.
These days he’s a registrar, coping with everything from patching up cuts and grazes to dealing with life-threatening illnesses.
Full of praise for his Royal Melbourne Hospital colleagues, Dr Scott loves the “feel good” component of his job, where he can make a difference in people’s lives and help others through challenging times.
The busy Emergency Department keeps Dr Scott on his toes as he manages any situation that walks through the door (or arrives via ambulance.) He’s confident he knows how to handle anyone’s medical issues.
He also understands patients, having seen things from his sick grandmother’s point of view during the COVID crisis. What’s important to Dr Scott is, “Being able to help people through what can often be the worst day of their lives. If I can make that process just a little bit easier then that’s enormous to me.”
Dr Michelle ThornhillEmergency Doctor
Dr Michelle Thornhill dreamed of being a doctor from the age of seven and was nicknamed “Doc” by her grandmother.
She studied medicine in the UK and her home town of Trinidad. On her first day in emergency, a bomb went off in the city and the many injured victims were brought to the hospital to be treated.
Michelle knew the intensity of emergency was for her and joined The Royal Melbourne hospital emergency six years ago following a move to Australia.
“The best part of the job is the rapid results, when your treatment makes patients better straight away and they and their family are very grateful. It’s very rewarding. You can give an internal fist pump.”
“The hardest part is juggling 20 things at once and dealing with aggressive patients.”
Michelle, who has a teenage daughter and step daughter, loves to socialise with her colleagues and believes it’s important to have a laugh to ease the heaviness of their jobs.
Sarah ThomasClinical Nurse Specialist
Initially, nurse Sarah Thomas wanted to be a midwife. Once she began working in emergency departments, she found her true passion. She has now worked for the Royal Melbourne Hospital for seven years and feels privileged to help people in their times of greatest need.
Unpredictability is a huge drawcard for Sarah. “It’s exciting, fun, and absolutely frightening all at the same time. You bear witness to bringing life into the world and a life leaving the world and everything in between, sometimes all in the one shift.”
Sarah’s key to connecting with patients is to listen, validate their feelings and put them at ease with plenty of empathy. She too once needed emergency care. “It was terrifying. I remember just thinking, ‘Please be nice to me, I feel like crap and I just want you to be nice to me.’”
Dr Emma WestSenior Emergency Doctor
Dr Emma West grew up in country Victoria and became the first doctor in her family, inspired by her father who became blind at the age of five.
“He’s a very, very positive person and I think him talking about going blind, really got me wanting to learn more about medicine.”
Emma met her husband, a Respiratory Physician, when they were both junior doctors, and they have four young children under 12.
Emma joined The Royal Melbourne emergency for 10 years ago. She thrives on the adrenalin of being a ‘diagnostic detective’ and the responsibility of saving patients’ lives.
Her shifts can be physically and emotionally draining and home life is very busy.
“They’re both really loud environments, home and the hospital, they’re quite similar and I love them both”.
“I love my job and feel privileged to work at Royal Melbourne Hospital.”
Dr Sarah WhitelawSenior Emergency Doctor
Dr Sarah Whitelaw is a highly regarded senior doctor with a 19-year career in emergency medicine, the last ten years at The Royal Melbourne Hospital.
“What I love about emergency medicine is most of the time we make things a bit better, sometimes we make it a lot better and sometimes we save lives and that’s an absolute joy and a luxury about our job.”
The mother of two young children, Sarah still comes to work with “butterflies in her stomach” but thrives on making order out of chaos.
“The hardest part of my job is that bad things happen to good people; all day, every day. Working in a busy emergency department is a constant reminder that life is short, unpredictable and that taking your health for granted is crazy.”
Maddy WhyteEmergency Nurse
Nurse Maddy Whyte grew up in country Victoria and was inspired to become an emergency nurse when her father was critically ill in hospital.
“I was sitting at the end of dad’s bed and a nurse came in and saw how scared I was, and she made me feel ok and that I could ask questions and cry.”
“I thought I want to be her, I want to be able to change people’s lives.”
Maddy joined The Royal Melbourne Hospital Emergency Department a year ago and loves the challenge of helping treat injured and sick patients.
“It’s a powerful thing to do every day, to hold the hands of people who are the most vulnerable in life.”