Mastering Intensive Care 028 with Simon Finfer

Does each bedside decision you make actually help your patient to feel, function or survive? Have you considered how frightening and intimidating the Intensive Care Unit environment is to your patients and their families? Do you feel empowered by the people you work with and the culture in your ICU? Simon Finfer loves telling a tale. Andrew Davies interviews Simon Finfer – ‘Querying clinical decisions and maintaining humanity in an intimidating environment‘.

In this episode you’ll hear the story of the serendipitous and multi-national route Simon took to end up working for 25 years in one of Australia’s premiere Intensive Care Units. An Intensive Care Department where his colleagues and the culture they developed has fostered him to become one of Australia’s prominent intensive care researchers. You’ll also hear how he teaches his junior colleagues to question everything they do at the bedside to ensure their decisions truly help the patient.

Simon is a Professorial Fellow in the Critical Care and Trauma Division at The George Institute for Global Health, a Senior Intensivist at Royal North Shore Hospital and Director of Intensive Care at the Sydney Adventist Hospital in Sydney, Australia. He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of New South Wales, a Clinical Professor at the University of Sydney and is a past-Chair of the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society (ANZICS) Clinical Trials Group. Simon is a world leader in Sepsis and is an international expert in the design and conduct of large-scale randomised controlled trials in Intensive Care.

Simon has collaborated with me (and many others) through the ANZICS Clinical Trials Group, so we caught up at the Group’s recent 20th Annual Meeting on Clinical Trials in Intensive Care at Noosa Heads in Queensland. We had a fascinating conversation in which Simon talked about:

  • His early career in London where he was simply working too hard
  • The circuitous route he took to Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney
  • The magnificent people-oriented culture inspired by Malcolm Fisher
  • His early collaboration with the George Institute for Global Health
  • How showing you care is what matters most in an end of life discussion
  • His thoughts on having family at the bedside for ward rounds
  • How the golf course is the only place he doesn’t think about patients
  • How moving to a property with animals has brought relaxation and peace
  • The rekindling of his passion for motorbike riding
  • Why he got a Twitter account and how social media is both a force for good and an echo chamber
  • How it’s almost “too easy” to write a paper in modern times
  • The unlikelihood of a magic bullet arriving anytime soon
  • His advice to look after our selves, to embrace uncertainty and to maintain our humanity

Show notes

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 |

One comment

  1. I had a brief encounter with Dr Finfer at the SOA meeting in December 2018, having not heard of him before ( purely my ignorance), and what struck me in addition to his charismatic self was his sense of humor and most important his willingness to help. When Madiha Hashmi,spoke on ,’Improving Critical care in low/ middle income countries ‘, he turned around and said, “How can we help”!
    I can never forget the sincerity with which he spoke.

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