November 18, 2022

Meet Dr Julie Jambon, Consultant Psychiatrist

On 7 November 2022, the Aged Persons Mental Health Services at Bundoora Centre transitioned to Northern Health. We officially welcomed the staff of the Kath Atkinson Wing (KAW), Aged Mental Health Unit and the Aged Psychiatry Assessment and Treatment Team (APATT), Bundoora Centre.

Today, we introduce a key member of the mental health team – Dr Julie Jambon, Consultant Psychiatrist, APATT.

Julie, let’s start with your coffee order? 

Skinny latte please.

Tell us about your role and what it entails?

My role as a consultant psychiatrist of old age essentially entails the assessment and treatment of elderly patients with mental illness. This involves talking to patients about their thoughts and feelings, understanding the challenges they are facing in terms of social adversity and physical health issues, collaborating with their family and other health care providers and developing a management plan.

I work with a community-based multidisciplinary team consisting of nurses, social workers, occupational therapists and psychologists to implement this plan which is tailored to each patient’s needs. Our patients often face complex combinations of mental and physical ill health.

The other large part of my role is to teach medical students and registrars hoping to both spark interest in this area, which is growing due to our ageing population, and to equip other doctors with skills to care for these patients.

Prior to embarking on my own training as a psychiatry registrar, I had rotated through several resident positions at Austin Health and Northern Health.

My first rotation as an intern at PANCH was with the surgical team. One of the consultants asked which area I planned to specialise in and I replied that I had been interested in psychiatry as a medical student. He retorted “What! Don’t you want to be a real doctor?” I thought to myself, “yes I do want to be a real doctor” and went on to do two resident years, trying many roles before deciding to follow my initial instinct, and also realising that psychiatrists are real doctors.

Luckily, that extra medical experience equipped me well for my sub-specialisation in aged psychiatry.

My journey does highlight one of the challenges in my role which is the stigma surrounding mental illness and its treatment. I advocate for my patients and their right to access the same services and care as other patients. Other challenges include the distances we travel for outreach work (from Preston to Kinglake), and engaging patients to follow treatment recommendations when their insight is poor.

What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day includes attending a daily webex bed management meeting, touching base with my registrar, heading out to patients’ homes with key clinicians on back-to-back visits (often with a student in tow), returning to Bundoora Centre for a quick lunch and to dictate the morning’s letters, then heading out again.

I also lead a weekly multidisciplinary team meeting to discuss patients, supervise registrars, attend mental health tribunals and make time to contact patient’s GPs and family members.

What excites you about your role?

It excites me to help my patients recover from their illness – this gives profound satisfaction. It is also a privilege to be invited into my patient’s homes and to help them through a difficult time in life when they are extremely vulnerable.  Our patients are often quite complex as we have to balance their physical and mental health needs.

Lastly, what would people be most surprised to know about you?

I have a soft spot for liquorice bullets and alpacas!