Psychiatry experts gather in Tauranga
The Kia Kotahi ai nga Ara - Uniting Pathways Conference came to its conclusion yesterday afternoon.
The conference involved a diverse and exciting scientific program with presentations from both national and international speakers and was attended by medical students, registrars and nurses in the industry alongside the Ministry of Health, Police and other agencies.
Mental Health and Addiction Services clinical director Dr Sue Mackersey, was one of these speakers and the convener of this year’s conference, which was held in Tauranga for the first time ever, at Trinity Wharf Hotel.
Her speech focussed on the emergency management and psychosocial response to the Eastern Bay of Plenty Floods.
“As a convener, this involved leading a fantastic group of fellow RANZCP psychiatrists who are based in Tauranga at the Bay of Plenty District Health Board,” says Sue.
“Essentially we became the committee with the support of Jill Schirnack, our conference organiser.”
Sue says the theme for this year’s conference highlights the significance of working together in the industry and involved a broad programme.
“When we were brainstorming we were talking about how we need to be working together to make things better for our tangata whaiora: our families, our whanau and communities and how we need to work better with each other.”
“The programme is really eclectic so it’s across all sub specialty areas and there was something for everyone.
“We’ve had an outstanding group of speakers, but our plenary – our main speakers were a number of people.”
These included Professor Sir Mason Durie (Palmerston North), Professor Warren Brookbanks (Auckland), Professor Perminder Sachdev (Sydney, Australia), Professor Michael Berk (Melbourne, Australia), Professor David Coghill (Melbourne, Australia), RANZCP president Doctor Kim Jenkins and Doctor Julia Rucklidge a psychologist based at University of Canterbury.
“We also had a whole lot of speakers from New Zealand and some from overseas, who were presenting in shorter time slots.”
Of these shorter presentations included two notable local speakers.
“One of the stand out presentations for me was Dr Branka Mijatovic who spoke on transgender psychiatry,” says Sue.
“What we have seen in our own service at the District Health Board is an exponential rise in referrals for people presenting with transgender issues.
“From what we understand in other areas of the country there’s been a similar increase in referrals or enquires for how people can get service for these issues.
“Branka is the person in our DHB who has been doing a majority of these assessments from a psychiatry point of view and leading that service development.
She says another highlight for her was Dr Rupert Bird who led a presentation about cannabis in medicine.
“That’s been something that is really topical in New Zealand.
“This was chaired by Dr David Trainor who is a registrar in the DHB, but Rupert organised and co-ordinated all of this and that was really well attended.
“His speech highlighted the pharmacology as well as the social and psychological issues to do with the use of cannabis in medicine and also the challenges with prohibition.
“His talk was titled the ‘Paradox of Inhibition’, it was a really intelligent, well-articulated and challenging talk.
Sue says the conference was the biggest yet for New Zealand, with 285 registrations at this year’s event.
“It was really successful because people enjoyed it and you can tell because they’ve stayed until the end.
“Mental health has been in the spotlight for the last 12 months and it’s been tough for a lot of our fellows and our colleagues so this has been a time where they’ve really enjoyed themselves.
“There’s been a lot of learning that has happened because of the high quality presentations, a lot of networking and a lot of fun.
“The best thing was just to see people having a lot of fun and feeling inspired about what they’re doing.
“You read about doctors and burn-outs and how people want to leave the workforce early and aren’t enjoying their jobs but when you look at the people who attended this conference – they’re enjoying their jobs they love their job.
“They feel really privileged to be working in psychiatry and are wanting to look at how they can grow professionally and how they can make things better for the people they are caring for.
“There will be a lot that comes out of this because people go away from it refreshed and inspired.
“Even within our own team we’re talking about what changes we can make and what services we can get involved in, as well as how we can engage with our students.”