Since joining MED, Dr Neil Long is finding it easier to do all the things he loves - spending time with his family life, mountaineering and enjoying his career as a FACEM.
In the midst of making the necessary preparations to climb a 4,897-metre mountain in Antarctica called Vinson Massif, Dr Neil Long is well on his way to realising his quest to climb the world’s seven tallest mountains (by continent) having already conquered - Kosciuszko, Carstensz Pyramid in Western Papua, Mt Aconcagua in South America, Kilimanjaro and Elbrus in Russia.
Neil’s first experience of mountaineering was as an 18-year-old, when he chose to climb Mt Kenya as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. After this trekking experience he was hooked, moving a few years later to New Zealand – as a junior doctor, to take advantage of its reputation as a mountain climbing mecca.
Being able to pursue his ambitious mountain climbing goals is just one of the many benefits Neil has experienced since signing-up with MED as one their international doctors.
Currently living in Kelowna, Canada with his young family, Neil has always taken the opportunity to work as a doctor in different locations around the world including the UK, New Zealand and Australia. Having the flexibility to take on exciting new work while being able to enjoy the great outdoors has often driven Neil’s choices when it came to his work. For this reason, it came as no surprise when Neil became intrigued by the endless possibilities working for MED represented when MED approached him last year.
“Normally I just delete unsolicited LinkedIn requests, but the MED model sounded interesting,” Neil explained. “After having a few discussions with MED and updating my AHPRA membership I started working for MED on a contract basis in December 2020.”
For Neil the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Preparing to make the move from Vancouver to Kelowna but without a full-time position secured, the hours worked for MED covered all his family’s living expenses while freeing up enough time to look for a new position in Kelowna.
“One of the benefits of working with MED is that I’m not reliant on one source of income, enabling me to make the move to another city for a better family lifestyle,” Neil said. “The relationship I have with MED is a symbiotic one. Flexible working arrangements mean that I can set the number of hours per month I work or onboard as a locum. Currently I’m working 24 hours per month but if I’m travelling to a conference, and know I’ll be stuck in a hotel room I can pick up some extra hours.
The MED model of work gives doctors a higher level of autonomy.
“In an emergency department (ED) it falls on the team to decide who will do the extra hours if another physician is unavailable or the ED is in surge, whereas with MED, the rosters are a lot more comfortable and can be aligned with your own work/life balance,” Neil said. “I select the shifts that are the mornings for me and the middle of the night in Australia. This way I avoid working at 6pm when my young children need me most.”
MED doctors are involved in a variety of work which is continuing to expand as telehealth becomes a mainstay of everyday life.
“The reason I chose to become a FACEM was because someone once told me that emergency medicine consists of the best 10 minutes of every specialty,” Neil said. “The work with MED adds another layer of diversity which I really like. Supporting ambulance services with secondary triage is an area I find satisfying, such as assessing a nursing home resident who has had a fall during the night, which I’m glad to say usually results in no ambulance transfer and therefore less stress and exposure through unnecessary waiting in ED waiting rooms. MED has an excellent track record with these types of virtual consultations – avoiding the need for the patient to go to ED on average in 72% of cases.”
“Another type of work I have been engaged in with MED are the nighttime hospital board rounds with junior doctors who don’t have FACEM qualifications,” Neil said. “We normally have two or three rounds with these junior doctors to check on their care plans while providing consultant level decision making. Also, for rural towns that have nurse-led medical facilities such as Urgent Care Centres, MED FACEMs consult with the night shift nurses who, with our support investigate and manage new cases requiring care.”
Like any modern workplace, flexibility and virtual camaraderie is evident within MED’s international doctors’ sub-group. Set up with their own community chat group, the doctors can not only share work around but personal stories too.
“I’m part of a crew of international doctors who have developed its’ own close-knit community where we help each other out. This has come about because everyone is happy to do this,” Neil explained. “And it’s not only work related, for example Anna, who was based in the UK with her baby boy, shared photos of him with us. Then when I had a baby boy four months ago, she sent a parcel of baby clothes that her son had grown out of.”
MED embracing the bigger picture of Australian healthcare.
“One of MED’s goals is to find a way to make sure FACEMs are available across Australia regardless of location or socio-economic circumstances,” Neil said. “There’s such a divide when it comes to the level of health care available in remote areas of Australia. It makes you feel good about your job when you feel your part of a larger worthy goal.”
There are many positive reasons to work with MED.
“The work/life balance is great,” Neil said. “I can carve out time for the important things in my life such as bedtime for my children. Another reason I chose to work with MED was the additional income, which has now become my expedition pocket money. What’s also great is how easy it is to become involved, all you need is a laptop and a good internet connection to work with MED. And something I didn’t take into consideration was this great community I have become part of.”
After the seven mountains.
“I hope that my message to my children is to make the most of all opportunities,” Neil said. “It’s not about reaching the summit, which sounds like a cliché, but the fun we have along the way. I’m tested every time I venture onto a mountain and grow as a person, so I suspect there will be future trips, hopefully with my sons.
“Since I have a few more expeditions to fund I plan to be working with MED for quite some time.”
We are always on the lookout for more senior emergency medicine professionals (FACEMs) and support team members who can help us continue to transform how emergency medicine is delivered in Australia. Join the team that's transforming emergency care and visit our careers page for more information.