The thought of being at work when your friends and family are socialising or asleep can create conflict, stir up feelings of guilt, and even resentment. Starting a shift with these emotions inside us is not conducive to connecting with our patients. Knowing that shiftwork is part and parcel of being a 24/7 caring health professional, what strategies can we use to minimise these feelings occurring?
Geoffrey Ahern is a senior mental health clinician who works with the Victorian Police on a specialised mental health emergency response team called PACER (Police And Clinician Emergency Response). PACER clinicians are on the road with the police responding immediately to triple zero emergency calls that involve mental health. Geoff trained initially as a Registered Nurse in the early 90s. Over the years, he has gained extensive experience in emergency and trauma, rural nursing, alcohol and other drug counselling, and psychiatric nursing across both the public and private sectors. He also holds a Masters of Health Science (Mental Health and AOD) and is a PhD candidate with Deakin University. When Geoff isn’t working with the police you can find him conducting freelance education for various public and private organisations, raising community awareness and recognition of people developing mental health problems, and averting crisis situations similar to those he sees on the road with police. As an educator, he has been involved in one-on-one mentoring and staff in-services, right through to full-time lecturing at a tertiary level. Geoff is a passionate and creative teacher, bringing to his audience stories and experiences that give life and meaning to the subject areas that he teaches.