‘Stunned’ and ‘honoured’, Dr Walker was awarded for his contribution to mentoring Queensland’s junior doctors.

Brisbane emergency specialist Dr Stephen Walker has been named the Clinical Educator of the Year by the Postgraduate Medical Education Council of Queensland (PMCQ). The non-profit body oversees intern training and has awarded Dr Walker based on his contribution to mentoring and supporting Queensland junior doctors.

How does it feel to be named PMCQ Clinical Educator of the Year?

It is a real thrill. Initially I was incredibly surprised and a bit stunned to get the call telling me I had won this award, and now I feel very honoured. I suppose we all look at our work and what we do day by day and hope it is good, but to have colleagues in the PMCQ look at it and say it is worthy of  recognition like this is truly fantastic. I am acutely aware that I work with lots of remarkable people in my education role who certainly make me look good.

Why is it beneficial for junior doctors and nurses to have mentors or role models?

I think if you spoke to anyone involved in health care they would tell you there is more than simply clinical skills and knowledge involved in caring for patients. Clinical practice is done in teams, and team work requires the right attitudes and behaviours towards colleagues. The ability to communicate clearly and enthusiasm for the goal of patient focused care. To work well with patients and their families requires not only great communication skills, but also compassion, patience, empathy and many other qualities.  These behaviours and attitudes are shaped by role models and mentors. If you model a behaviour it clearly sets parts of the culture for an organisation or a team and tells all around “this is how we do things here, this is how we relate and behave.” These things simply cannot be learnt from a book or a lecture.

Were you mentored at the beginning of your career?

I certainly was. My mentors and role models have been a mix of nurses, doctors and allied health professionals I have worked alongside over 30 years of clinical practice. They shaped my attitudes, taught me tolerance and compassion and guided my career choice of emergency medicine.

What do you gain from mentoring?

Firstly…it feels right. I benefited from this and now it’s my turn to put back into the system. It’s also right because there is no other way to cultivate the right attitudes and professional behaviours we need in our health care workers. Secondly, I could say that one day I’ll possibly be on the other side of the ledger as a patient. I would love that care to be provided by someone who models their behaviour and professional attitudes on those of the clinicians we have working with our junior doctors at the Mater. I’d feel very comfortable with that.