Mastering Intensive Care 008 with Dianne Stephens

Assoc Prof Dianne Stephens tells the story of how she moved to Darwin, a remote part of Australia, immediately after completing her intensive care training, as a solo intensivist and Director of the Intensive Care Unit. And by working hard, respecting and valuing everyone in the team and by communicating well, she led the development of a positive and happiness–focused work environment where great things have happened over the last 2 decades.

Dianne received an OAM (a national award) for her leadership role in the intensive care management of the 20 critically ill Bali bombing victims in 2002. She describes what it really felt like in the moment.

Dianne takes us on the journey of her career from when she first began to love intensive care as an intern to recently reflecting that she has never had a day when she hasn’t been excited about going to work.

She also describes the need to remain calm when emotions escalate at the bedside; the benefit of noticing changes in colleague’s behaviour to assist them before things get out of control; the importance of training in communication (and recognising that honesty and respect can be more important than understanding everything about other cultures); the benefits of talking about what is important to a patient’s family, not what is important to us; the realisation that she needed a mid-career mental health break (which she had in Fiji just last year); and her desire to continue to improve at connecting with patients, families and colleagues.

My genuine hope with the Mastering Intensive Care podcast is to inspire and empower you to bring your best self to the ICU by listening to the perspectives of such thought-provoking guests as Wes Ely. I passionately believe we can all get better, both as carers and as people, so we can do our absolute best for those patients whose lives are truly in our hands.

Feel free to leave a comment on the Facebook “mastering intensive care” page, on the LITFL episode page, on Twitter using #masteringintensivecare, or by sending me an email at andrewATmasteringintensivecare.com.

Further reading and listening

Dr Andrew Davies MBBS FRACP FCIC. Intensivist/researcher at Frankston Hospital, Melbourne. Aiming to bring my best self to work & life. | Mastering Intensive Care | New Normal project |

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