Information on Psychiatry Placements

Information provided below is to assist students in understanding what types of learning experiences are available at each placement.  You should always consult the official documents on Blackboard for information.

Mental Health

Information Provided

  • Location Information
  • Types of Experiences
  • Tips from Past Students
  • Information About Teams
Placement Name Located At Placement Info
Mental Health Centre at the Mater Calvary Mater Newcastle The Mater is the major acute care psych hospital in HNE so you'll see all the acute psychiatry stuff. Older persons can be disappointing for some in terms of psychiatry exposure as the patients are older, stay longer and tend to have dementia compounding their mental illness. In this ward, you may get less variety in the acute presentations (schizophrenia, bipolar, depression, etc.).

There are 4 main wards here: 2 general Adult, one older persons, one dual diagnosis. Some students are also attached to the hospital Consultation-Liaison team. Many students also undertake their after hours shifts here in the Psychiatric Emergency Centre.

Overall, it’s a very good hospital. You get a thorough orientation to the hospital itself but the orientation to the individual wards can be a bit hit and miss and you should make sure to introduce yourself to key staff to complete your introduction. There’s a $60 bond for the keys which is good to know about! There are lots of staff so everyone feels safe here (although the PICU can be a little more intimidating). The senior doctors are all engaging and interested in teaching. It can be difficult if you get a change-over in consultant/reg/interns during your rotation as this can be quite disruptive. There’s formal teaching but some additional on the ward dedicated registrar teaching time would be really helpful. Often, you'll be the one who knows patients best (especially if the staff are away or there’s a change-over). Make sure you stick your hand up to do things because otherwise it can be hard to get involved in certain wards.

It can be a bit disheartening compared to other rotations as you tend to see the same patients over the six weeks and some people don’t seem to get much better. If this worries you try for a combined term with the community where you will see people much more improved in their illness. The MHSOP and MHSUU Ward also operate outpatients on site so try to see if your Consultants will let you join in on a clinic. Take the opportunity to take time to do some reading. Get to know all of the patient's stories.

Consultation-Liaison at John Hunter Hospital John Hunter Hospital This location is really what you make of it. If you don’t push to do things, you won’t learn much and it can be a struggle to get the necessary things signed off early. It’s CL, which means it’s mostly long-term medical patients who need reviews for mostly stable psych issues so there is quite limited acute psych exposure. However, this is actually really helpful in terms of future experience because unless you’re interested in psychiatry as a specialty, this is the kind of psych you’ll be dealing with.
Those interested in becoming GPs especially will get a good experience. You do get some exposure to acute psychiatry during the after-hours shifts at the PECC in the Mater. This set-up means you can see a decent variety. The orientation can be a bit lacking here. You’re given general psych orientation which definitely feels more Mater specific in parts. At JHH, you get shown around the building a bit but you have to ask for the Byrne House keys! Do this straight away, it will save you a lot of hassle! After this, you basically have to find your way around yourself. The psych building is also separate to the rest of the hospital and you do a lot of walking back and forth so you might want to wear comfortable shoes and weather-proofed clothes. Hopefully, you don’t get a rainy rotation.
After the orientation lectures (at the Mater), you tend to be left to find where you’re supposed to be on your own. You might want to buddy with someone who knows the area or make sure you have a map. The team tends to meet a lot around coffee. So you may want to excuse yourself at these times if you are not into drinking coffee that much! CL psych is a lot about how medical/mental health illnesses interact. Key reading includes the personality disorders, delirium(!!!) and other medical conditions such as Parkinsons, dementia, stroke, etc. that have high rates of depression and mental illness. The team asks what you want to do and tries to tailor teaching around what you need to know for that which can be amazing!
Maitland Mental Health Unit The Maitland Hospital This location is an acute psychiatric unit and you should get a very good experience here with a lot of exposure to a wide variety of acute mental health issues. The team is very keen to teach and get you doing things so they’re only too happy to get you involved in pretty much everything. They’ll get you speaking to patients, writing in the notes, participating in family meetings, making phone calls to patients’ family and doctors, etc. There’s a lot to do here and the team is really happy to let you participate.

The orientation here with Glynis is really good. You get shown around the ward and told where everything is; what they’d like your role to be while you’re there (basically a part of the team!); introduced to all the nurses; informed about the tribunal schedule; and given an information hand-out that was actually made by the consultant himself. It was just really helpful and thorough!

The team here are very excited to have you so you should get stuck in as much as possible. This is not the placement for anyone who just wants to do the minimum and coast through the psych rotation. Make the most of it!

Bloomfield Hospital Orange Base Hospital Bloomfield has a superb culture in psychiatry and provided a great benchmark for how to be a compassionate provider of care. The orientation is excellent but unfortunately, you might not get it on your first day which can be difficult as you need to feel your way around things to begin with. It’s held in groups so when you do it, you’ll probably be in with new nursing, dietetics, OT, PT etc. staff as well as other students. They give you a handout with maps, emergency protocol and procedures (including demonstrations of how to use the duress alarms), copies of the Mental Health act quick guide, and an outline of how to do a proper mental health history and mental state examination. Then you get a campus tour.
Unfortunately, the internet access can be a bit of an issue. The Wifi dongles provided aren’t compatible with Apple IOS however, there is a CSU campus to the north of Orange where you can use Eduroam out of hours without having to sit on a cold bench outside in the dark at the UoN building at Bloomfield.
Also, on a social level, the Bloomfield and orange staff are very friendly and have a great culture of medical staff community interaction. Trivia on Wednesday and Thursday nights are a great chance to meet some of the local medical staff and other students. There's actually a ceramics hut on site at Bloomfield which is terribly cathartic. You can do pottery and cuddle an orphaned baby wombat in a bag. Plus, there was heaps to do and see around Orange on the weekends! It’s an amazing experience and everyone who goes recommends it. From personal experience, those who go here report having a better time on their psych rotation than many of the people who stay in Newcastle.
Central Coast TBA TBA
Manning Hospital TBA TBA
Armidale Hospital TBA TBA
Tamworth Hospital TBA TBA
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