Meet Elise Ecker

Interested in St John of God Health Care’s intern program? Hear from one of our current interns, Dr Elise Ecker about her experience so far and find out tips and tricks for making your intern application stand out from the crowd. 

23 May 2023

Doctor in hall way of hospital

How long have you been with St John of God Health Care? 
Since January 2023

What kind of role and responsibilities have you taken on so far?
I have just finished my first rotation as an intern in the ICU at St John of God Subiaco Hospital. Throughout the placement I was given additional opportunities to expand my basic skills, as well as assisting in ICU procedures and treatment planning, ultrasound practice, attending and leading MER calls, and assisting in research with consultant mentors.

What drew you applying toSt John of God Health Care for your internship?
I had a gut feeling that it was the right place for me. I was drawn to the unique supportive atmosphere and the fact that everyone was proud to work here. 

Throughout medical school, my St John of God Health Care placements stood out because the staff were approachable and eager to teach but most importantly, they were happy. By the end of the first week, I knew all the staff on my ward by name and they would check in on me at every chance they got and supported my learning goals. I also appreciated working directly alongside the consultants and getting their invaluable feedback on my history taking and examination techniques. 

The feedback from the junior doctors also helped to consolidate my decision for St John of God Health Care. Numerous interns shared how impressed they were with the level of support they received during their first year as a doctor. They were also appreciative of their administration staff, PGME team and the ease of accessing leave compared to the other hospitals. 

As I did not know what training path I wanted to do leaving medical school, I was also drawn to the longer 13-week rotations for the generalist core rotations (general medicine, surgery and emergency). I felt that this would give me more time to improve my knowledge and skills as an intern. 

The free parking and amazing food were just a bonus!

Has your experience as an intern differed from how you thought it would be? 
So far it has been better than expected. It know it sounds cheesy but my teams have genuinely felt like a giant family. I knew all the names and individual quirks of the doctors, nurses, admin staff, allied heath, pharmacists, PCAs and cleaning staff and they created a wonderfully supportive atmosphere. I instantly felt comfortable to ask questions, take an active role in treating patients and to assist in specialist procedures. 

This was invaluable. I have gotten a level of individualised care that I didn’t realise was possible as an intern. The one-on-one interactions with the consultants allowed me to improve on my examination and procedural skills whilst solidifying my knowledge with excellent department and bedside teaching. I greatly appreciate the dedication that SJGHC has put into their advocation for junior doctor education. I felt that by having longer 13-week rotations, it provided the time to develop stronger bonds with my teams, encouraged leadership in patient treatment planning and improved my skills as a junior doctor. 

I was not prepared for how sad I was to finish my first rotation as I was leaving behind the wonderful and lovely staff at Subiaco ICU. But I was just as excited to start my surgical rotation at Midland which so far has been just as welcoming and supportive.

I have also been surprised with how much support I have received whilst at an external site. Accessing leave has been extremely straightforward, especially on my elective rotation. They were also very welcoming during orientation, and they take junior doctor feedback very seriously. The administration and PGME staff were incredibly efficient at organising our rotation preferences and rosters and checking in on our wellbeing throughout our placements. 

What have you enjoyed most about working with us?
The culture and positive atmosphere. Because SJGHC is a smaller hospital you get to know everyone in the hospital. It was true when I was a medical student, and it is even more so as an intern. I have loved getting to know everyone and having positive interactions with everyone in the hallway in-between seeing patients. It is a small thing, but it has been my favourite part about working at St John of God Health Care so far. 

The PGME team and the intern welfare program has been outstanding during the transition between medical school to working as an intern. I have felt supported every step of the way and they genuinely care about your interests and wellbeing. 

I also really, REALLY like the free parking and food.

What’s your best piece of advice for future interns?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! There is no such thing as a dumb question. Everyone at St John of God Health Care is lovely, and they will be happy to help you if you are kind and inquisitive. 

Also, the nurses are your best friends… be respectful to them!

What has been the highlight of your internship so far?

Receiving one-on-one, high-yield ultrasound teaching with my consultant and getting to practicing on their arm. 

Also cannulating a foot.

What does St John of God Health Care do to make caregivers feel appreciated and cared about in the workplace?
I enjoyed working so closely with my teams and admin staff as it felt like they were overseeing my progress and pushing me to become the best person, not just doctor that I can be. The nursing and allied health staff have also been such a terrific support network to me as junior doctor. They take the time to explain their specialties, especially things that may not have covered in medical school. They also have informed me of common pitfalls and how to better my overall practice. SJGHC staff genuinely care about your progress.

What advice would you offer to graduates who want to make their intern applications stand out?

Your grades matter, but they are not the most important thing to consider when applying to St John of God Health Care. It is a smaller hospital so they want to choose genuine people that will add to their incredible culture. 

Overall, make sure to show your true self and highlight your amazing leadership roles, community service and achievements in your resume. The best advice I can give is to showcase who you are as a person, your passions and why you want to start your medical journey with St John of God Health Care.