Meet icare Brain Injury Psychiatry Fellow Dr Bernard Myers

Dr Bernard Myers is a consultation-liaison psychiatry advanced trainee at Royal North Shore Hospital and Royal Rehab in Ryde, Sydney.

Dr Bernard Myers

In February 2020 he commenced as a Fellow in the icare brain injury psychiatry program, funded by the icare Foundation.

Dr Myers has been working in consultation-liaison psychiatry for 18 months, where he has treated the minds of patients that are medically and psychologically unwell.

Having a background in social science and psychology and a medical degree from the University of Sydney, he became interested in the mind and body connection and clinical care of people with mental illness.

Whilst completing a psychiatry residency at Nepean Hospital he came to understand more deeply the complications in physical and mental health conditions. A great mentor and psychiatrist in the old age unit provided him with additional training and teaching sessions. With this, he ventured into the world of psychiatry.

Being a self-confessed sports fan who has tried many sports including snowboarding and martial arts, he is very aware of the head injuries caused by sports that impact on one's brain. He became curious about how to treat people with a traumatic brain injury given the complexity of neurology and psychiatry. This curiosity led him to the icare Brain Injury Psychiatry Fellowship.

Expanding knowledge and training through the fellowship

Through the fellowship, Dr Myers wishes to expand his knowledge and training in this complex field and gain access to a breadth of cases in neuropsychiatry. As part of the fellowship he is completing a research project to explore the need for telepsychiatry services in NSW. He is supported on this project by Professor Leanne Togher, Dr Ralf Ilchef, Melinda Lyne and Louise Hunt. He considers it a unique advantage to be receiving such academic support.

Through the icare Brain Injury Psychiatry Fellowship, Dr Myers hopes to build expertise in the niche area of neuropsychiatry and brain injury. He refers to this as 'no-man's land'. 

"Patients with organic brain injuries may also have behavioural problems as a symptom of psychiatric illness. These are treated by rehab doctors and psychiatrists. Having capabilities in both areas to manage patients will assist in breaking the divide and provide more holistic treatment," said Dr Myers. 

He also hopes to support families of patients. "Families and carers aren't prepared for behaviour such as distress, negative thoughts and suicidal ideation. The fellowship will provide greater understanding of patients' behaviour to their families and a good approach to working with the patient," added Dr Myers.

In a typical week, Dr Myers has in-patient consultations at Royal North Shore Hospital with the consultation-liaison psychiatry teams where he helps the medical and surgical teams care for the psychiatric needs of their patients. He also works in a multidisciplinary team at Royal Rehab where his work includes assisting with diagnosis and seeing longer staying patients with brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. He also completes academic research, consultation-liaison training, case conferences, quality improvement projects and sees outpatient brain injury clinic patients with Dr Ralf Ilchef.

"We are trying to improve functions for people with mental health issues and brain injury. There are a lot of people in brain injury units with psychiatry issues, where there has typically been limited access to psychiatric services. Having someone with psychiatry experience doing liaison work in a physical rehabilitation hospital can provide more comprehensive management of patients," said Dr Myers.

As part of the fellowship program, Dr Myers meets regularly with other Fellows and peers to discuss complex cases. As there is limited research in this area, this is beneficial as it provides perspectives of other psychiatrists.

"I feel lucky to be involved in this unique program. I certainly didn’t imagine this opportunity coming up when I envisaged my psychiatry training. I'm happy to be selected to complete this year of advanced training."
Dr Myers
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