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A rare insight into the world of an Intensive Care Unit

ICU Director Jon Field
ICU Director Jon Field

Intense by name. Intense by nature. Working in an ICU is not for everyone as Gold Coast University Hospital’s Intensive Care Director Jon Field explains in this interview.

What do you love about working in the ICU?

“I feel incredibly privileged to do what I do, to work with the people I work with. The job itself is incredibly rewarding because you literally save people’s lives every day.”

“It’s a melting pot of emotion and ethical and moral dilemmas. It’s cutting edge. It’s cutting edge of technology, cutting edge of medicine and it’s the pointy end of life and death, literally.”

“We get on average 3-5 emergency admissions a day and during the week days we can get up to six elective admissions a day. We’ve got about 20 patients to look after and we’re having to manage the inflows and outflows of patient who are well enough to go the ward but also those that are newly requiring ICU, so there are lots of different jobs to do. Perhaps the most challenging is the new patients coming in, working through what they need, liaising with other specialist teams involved and of course their families.”

“We are really lucky here at GCUH. We have a close-knit, hand-picked team that work really closely together.”

“The biggest challenge of this job and working in this environment is the difficult end of life issues we have to work through. In particular how much should be done for patients particularly if they are older with chronic disease and that’s what we struggle through every day and of course we involve the families closely with discussions but that’s often pretty draining. Young people after trauma, particularity brain injured young people after trauma, those are the ones I think take the most out of staff.”

You have a highly demanding role. How do you stay emotionally balanced and what keeps you going?

“The most important thing as far as sharing that emotional burden is perhaps two-fold. Firstly, the support you have with one’s work colleagues is really crucial and we are really lucky here at GCUH because we have a really close-knit, hand picked team that work really closely together.
Not just the medical specialists but we also have a fantastic team of nurses and we all work really well together. It makes the difficult stuff we have to do so much easier because everybody is on the same page and supporting each other.”

“Then of course there is home. When you get tragedies at work, you can go home and hug your wife and kids, and everything is a lot better. The work-life balance is crucial and fortunately over the years I’ve had good teachers in terms of that balance and our ED Director Dr David Green would be one of them.”

Why did you choose to work at GCUH?

“Firstly we have a brand new unit and state of the art infrastructure. We have a busy, well supported unit with every specialty including cardiac surgery, major trauma (major trauma now drains from right down into northern N.S.W), a helipad on the roof, and lots of new technology we are taking advantage of. We do really good things here. We’ve got a great team. There’s a lot to be said for working here and I would never consider working anywhere else.”

So what’s next for the ICU team?

“We’re in a rapid growth phase. We’ve got more beds that are opening in the near future and we are trying to stay ahead of demand, so it’s going to get bigger and busier. We are going to be doing new things and it’s all very exciting.”

There are currently several opportunities to join the Gold Coast Health team. You can find out more at

Last updated 20 Dec 2016