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From Pakistan to Australia: Dr Waseem Hassan, a Buchanan Prize winner


For ACEM trainee Dr Waseem Hassan his journey in emergency medicine started in Pakistan

The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) is the not-for-profit organisation responsible for training emergency physicians and advancement of professional standards in emergency medicine in Australia and New Zealand.

Recently ACEM published an exclusive Interview of Dr. Waseem Hassan. Dr Syed Mohammed Hasnain - GP (General Practitioner) in St Marys Sydney,kindly forwarded Dr. Waseem Hassan’s interview to Sada-e-Watan Sydney. We appreciated kindness of Dr Syed Mohammed Hasnain and request to Ministry of Health for nomination of Dr Waseem Hassan for Highly recognised professional Medical Award of Australia.

From Pakistan to Australia: Dr Waseem Hassan, a Buchanan Prize winner
For ACEM trainee Dr Waseem Hassan his journey in emergency medicine started in Pakistan

Dr. Waseem Hassan

“I came to Australia in 2011 after my graduation and intern year in Pakistan,” Dr Waseem Hassan says. “I found the Australian system totally different to Pakistan. It was a real challenge to settle into a new system.

“My first job in an emergency department in regional Victoria is where I fell in love with emergency medicine, before moving to Sydney for specialist training.”

That love has seen him being awarded the Buchanan Prize for his success in the 2019.1 Fellowship OSCE (joint winner from cohort 2). The Buchanan Prize is awarded to the candidate achieving the highest score in the OSCE.

“I was thrilled and exhilarated,” Dr Waseem Hassan says of the emotions he experienced when he was told the news. “It is a monumental achievement to pass the exam in the first place. Winning the prize is something like a dream come true. Finally, all the hard work has paid off. It took me a few days for the news to sink in.

“I have had to sacrifice a lot of my family time, having two young kids – aged 5 and 4 – it is hard when they need your time.

“I am so grateful to my wife for her support during this time.”

Tips for success

Dr Waseem Hassan says trainees need to plan their study in advance “as it takes a lot of family time and effort”.

“Identify your weaknesses early and focus on them while in your practise sessions,” Dr Waseem Hassan says.

“I found studying in a small group is a key to success. Get your colleagues to critique your performance, and honest feedback is paramount.

“Practise as many question as you can with your study group and FACEMs/DEMTs who are familiar with the new exam format and markings. I have been very fortunate to have an excellent FACEM group at Blacktown Hospital in Sydney. They were always available to spare their time for practise and to give honest feedback.”

On the day of the exam, Dr Waseem Hassan says it is critical to read the questions carefully and work out what is being asked. “Structure your answer accordingly – remember there are time constraints, seven minutes is not a long time,” he says.

“Focus on the domains being assessed in each question. This tells you what is expected of your answer. Domains are explained clearly on the College website.”

Finally, Dr Waseem Hassan says you must believe yourself. “Believe in your abilities, try and get into the right frame of mind,” he says.

“Develop strategies to cope with the stress on the day of the exam – different people develop different strategies and there is no right or wrong answer to it. My strategy was to forget what happened in the last station, close my eyes, take a deep breath after reading the question for the first time, and then to focus on the particulars of the task in front of me.”

Making a difference

Dr Waseem Hassan says his experiences have made him reflect on what he has gained from his training, “and how important it is to have a dedicated emergency department and training programs. I hope to promote emergency medicine training in Pakistan and across the world”.

Dr Waseem Hassan says emergency medicine “is full of unimaginable challenges”. “Not knowing what is going to come through the emergency department doors brings a lot of thrills and excitement.

“Teamwork is an essential component of emergency medicine practice – getting to know your colleagues and identifying their skills sets is quite fascinating.

“I love the adrenaline rush of resuscitating the very sick patients and being able to speak the language of all specialities.

“Being able to help the most vulnerable when they need it is the most rewarding and satisfying feeling you can experience.” Dr Waseem Hassan says in his interview with ACEM.

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