How AWH is growing its psychiatry services
Wednesday, 12 October 2022 / Albury Wodonga Health
Ten psychiatrists have joined Albury Wodonga Health in the past eight years, an increase the health service is celebrating this Mental Health Week.
World Mental Health Week is held annually in the second week of October and Monday (October 10) is World Mental Health Day.
Medical director of mental health services Dr Elizabeth McArdle said when she first joined AWH in 2014, there was a low number of psychiatrists compared to her former Melbourne health service, but there had since been an "extraordinary uplift".
"Back in 2014 we had about eight and-a-half doctors working in the mental health service across both states and now we're sitting at 28," she said.
"Where there might have been considerable waits to see a psychiatrist before, now people are able to see a psychiatrist in a much more timely manner.
"It also means that we have more psychiatrists able to provide leadership to the staff across the service and also be involved in quality improvement and service development activities."
Dr McArdle said during COVID-19 many health services across the state struggled to fill medical positions, but Albury Wodonga Health had filled all of its registrar and consultancy positions.
"The good work that's happening and the good culture the service is developing is drawing really good people to it," she said.
"An example of that is that we've had a considerable number of registrars and consultants who've come to work for the service for a short period of time and who've had such positive experience here with both the culture and the clinical work.
"So they've elected to relocate to the region to take on permanent positions with us."
The Royal Australian New Zealand College of Psychiatrists recently awarded Albury Wodonga Health the position of rural director of training - the first position of its kind in Victoria.
Dr McArdle said it would help the region attract and retain more psychiatrists in the future, with benefits for the whole community.
"It will improve access to training for regional doctors who want to live and work and train in regional settings like ours," she said.
"That will result in our communities having training psychiatrists, who when they finish their training, are coming out and working in the communities they know and which they're part of and which they're invested in."
This article originally appeared in The Border Mail, authored by Victoria Ellis and is re-published with permission.