The Fellowship is funded by the icare Foundation, and Dr Cartoon is now supervisor to one of the new fellows.
Born in South Africa and migrating to Australia at a young age with her family, Dr Cartoon calls Sydney home these days with her husband and young children.
She studied medicine at the University of Western Australia and spent a year doing rural medicine before starting her psychiatry training in Western Australia.
Early on in her medical training Dr Cartoon realised her greatest passion was in understanding the mind—how it worked and drove behaviour. Also, how overwhelmingly a brain injury could impact people's lives and those of their loved ones.
Neuropsychiatry had been an area of interest for her where she occasionally saw patients with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and comorbid psychiatric issues. Wanting to gain more experience in this specialised area and recognising the limited suitable services existing in NSW, Dr Cartoon applied and was successful in gaining the first icare Brain Injury Psychiatry Fellowship, funded by the icare Foundation.
“icare has provided me with expertise in an area that is otherwise very difficult to attain, as there is limited exposure to brain injury psychiatry through established psychiatry training programs.”
"[The Fellowship] has shaped the direction of my career with work in brain injury psychiatry forming a large part of my formative consultant experience," said Dr Cartoon.
A typical day involves meetings with psychiatrists and clinicians working in Westmead Hospital to discuss brain injury clients which come from Emergency, medical and surgical wards. Patients are seen in the acute settings including in the Intensive Care Unit or Neurosurgical wards, in a rehabilitation setting in the Brain Injury Unit and in community outpatient clinics.
A highlight of Dr Cartoon's experience with the Fellowship was the symposium in 2019 conducted for clinicians interested in brain injury psychiatry. From this over enrolled event, a community of practice was set up for psychiatrists and clinicians working with brain injury clients, to discuss complex cases.
Clinicians have gained more understanding of the comorbidity of TBI and psychiatry. This assists in providing more holistic management, alongside rehabilitation clinicians, service providers and family members.
With more psychiatry registrars and consultants skilled in this area, patients can access support for their mental health comorbidities in a timelier fashion.
Having intimate awareness of the program, it felt like the natural next step for Dr Cartoon to impart this knowledge with the new fellows. In her supervisor role, Dr Cartoon enjoys the ability to share the knowledge she acquired through her training and fellowship to develop a new and much needed service in a major hospital.
“Every day I feel privileged to be able to share in some of the most difficult times in people's lives and help them reach an understanding of why they are experiencing what they are and work with them to explore ways forward.”