Real-life story - Jonathan Benger
Jonathan Benger is a professor of Emergency Medicine in Bristol.
How I got into the role
I chose Emergency Medicine because I liked the prospect of working with lots of people in a large team, and meeting lots of interesting patients. There is constant variety and challenge: exposure to a great deal of “real life”. It is very intellectually stimulating: high decision density with limited information. There are also strong opportunities for innovation and service improvement.
I did a lot of outdoor pursuits when I was younger, and had to make some hard choices in terms of my future career. Fortunately I made the right decisions! After graduating from medical school I initially thought I wanted to be a surgeon, but I’m better now! Actually, I realised that I didn’t like the artificiality of operating theatres and the need to perform repetitive technical tasks. EM is much more diverse and mentally challenging.
What I do
I work in co-located adult and children’s emergency departments seeing 65,000 and 28,000 patients per year respectively. They are located in an urban inner-city population with significant social and drug problems. There are dedicated adult and paediatric observation units. Both departments have a large emergency nurse practitioner service, and extended scope physiotherapists in the adult ED. Departmental interests are in paediatrics, airway management, ultrasound, pre-hospital care and teaching.
I work in a full time post and then some more! My job is split three ways between the acute trust (United Bristol Healthcare Trust: 5 sessions), a large university (University of the West of England, Bristol: 4 sessions) where I lead the emergency care research programme, and the regional ambulance service (Great Western Ambulance Service: 3 sessions), where I am medical advisor to the air operations strategy and responsible for medical provision in the air support unit and critical care service.
Top tips for others
EM is one of the few specialties embracing a consistent 24/7 level of care whilst others retreat from it. This, coupled with the value that the public continue to place on Emergency Medicine, means that in the future the specialty has nothing to fear. Rather there are enormous opportunities for those who are prepared to continue to change and innovate. The future is bright!