AFOEM ebulletin - 29 July 2022
Yet another wave of COVID-19 has arrived with peak numbers expected towards the end of August. The current COVID variants appear to be as contagious as measles. In the absence of mandates, there is expected to be more messaging on the importance of vaccination and the need for masks, especially indoors. There needs to be more emphasis on the importance of ventilation in improving air quality. Air quality can be assessed with quality carbon dioxide meters that can be purchased for around $400. As many people will be required to isolate for seven days, there will be significant effects on productivity from sickness absence, as many workers will not be able to work from home.
There continue to be reports in the media about healthcare workers’ stress and conditions of service. These concerns and burnout have been highlighted and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The terms of reference for developing the College position statement into ‘Improving the health of healthcare workers’ have been drafted and are going through the final approval stages. AFOEM is leading this cross-College response and it is anticipated that expressions of interest will soon be sought. Occupational physicians may be able to make a major contribution to improving work health and safety, particularly in our public hospitals.
On a related topic, I strongly recommend listening to Pomegranate podcast episode 83 entitled ‘Loving medicine again’, which is relevant to hospital environments. It also includes some comments by past AFOEM President, Associate Professor Peter Connaughton who considers burnout to be an occupational medicine issue. There are also two key words which can improve any workplace culture.
The Faculty Presidents had a meeting with the CEO, Peter McIntyre, earlier this month. He mentioned the concerning trends in the satisfaction surveys over the past few years. We welcomed his advice that transformation of the culture in the College was now a high priority, particularly to improve flexibility with respect to trainees. AFOEM currently has a vacancy for the Stage B Exams Practical Coordinator.
The Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, provided an update to the medical colleges on 22 July with respect to progress of the implementation of the recommendations of the National Dust Diseases Task Force. This was the first update since caretaker arrangements were applied before the election. Professor Kelly provided reassurance that progress was continuing, and the Department was developing a register to record the prevalence of occupational lung diseases, as well as drafting regulations to support the registry.
The ‘It Pays to Care’ advocacy addressing psychosocial factors in return-to-work programs was launched in April, with the two key policy documents available on the ‘It Pays to Care’ webpage. Less than two months since its launch, the webpage has received 1183 views and AFOEM is receiving invitations from stakeholders interested in being involved. This post launch work has kept the lead, Dr Mary Wyatt, very busy and we appreciate her continued efforts.
Communication via the ROC continues to improve. ACT AFOEM members now have an all-members community and NSW/ACT trainees have their own community.
Dr Warren Harrex
The RACP Board governs the College by acting in the best interests of all members while observing all legal and regulatory requirements and high standards in relationships with regulators, stakeholders, and the community in which the College operates.
The Member Director provides consultative advice and support to the College Board, President, Chief Executive Officer, and the Senior Leadership Committee to ensure transparency and fairness in all procedural matters. This position also assists in aligning governance of the College to the College’s Strategic Plan, and in supporting the College President in providing leadership - particularly with respect to College members.
Fellows with demonstrated experience in leadership are invited to submit an expression of interest (EOI) by Wednesday, 24 August 2022.
Read more and submit an EOI
The AFOEM Essay Prize is awarded for demonstrated excellence through essay, research project or assignment form as required by a curriculum or course in occupational or environmental health. Applications open Monday, 1 August 2022. For more information, contact the RACP Foundation.
Nominations are now open for a range of College and Fellowship awards. These awards acknowledge the outstanding contributions and achievements made by Fellows and trainees in their respective fields.
We encourage you to nominate for the following categories:
- The John Sands Medal recognises a Fellow who makes a significant contribution to the welfare of RACP and its members.
- The College Medal is aligned to the College motto hominum servire saluti. It is awarded to a Fellow who makes a significant contribution to medical specialist practice, healthcare and/or health of community through physician activities.
- RACP International Medal recognises a member who has provided outstanding service in developing countries.
- RACP Medal for Clinical Service in Rural and Remote Areas recognises a Fellow who has provided outstanding clinical service in rural and remote areas of Australia or Aotearoa New Zealand.
- RACP Mentor of the Year Award recognises a Fellow who has made an outstanding contribution to mentoring or provided a high level of support and guidance throughout training.
- RACP Trainee of the Year Award recognises a trainee who has made an outstanding contribution to College, community, and trainee activities.
- The Eric Susman Prize is presented by the College for best contribution to the knowledge of internal medicine.
Full details are available on the RACP Foundation webpage.
During the months of August and September, there are some great free learning opportunities available to AFOEM Fellows and trainees:
- Tuesday, 16 August: Biomechanics of lumbar spine segments, presented by Associate Professor John Costi
- Monday, 29 August: Kevin Sleigh Lecture – Lessons and challenges in D&A testing, presented by Dr Armand Casolin
- Wednesday, 7 September: Learning Together Webinar – various speakers (see below)
- Wednesday, 21 September: llumination in the workplace and its impact on health and safety, presented by Dr John Sammarco
#itswhatyouknow - SA Branch Webinar
Biomechanics of lumbar spine segments
Presenter: Associate Professor John Costi
Date: Tuesday, 16 August 2022, 6pm (ACST)
Kevin Sleigh Lecture (in-person and webinar) – hosted by AFOEM Victoria, ANZSOM and Worksafe Victoria
Lessons and Challenges in D&A Testing
Presenter: Dr Armand Casolin
Save the Date: Monday, 29 August 2022, 6pm (AEST)
Learning Together Webinar – hosted by SOM (UK) and ANZSOM
It Pays to Care, presented by Dr Mary Wyatt
Mental Health at Work, presented by Profssor Neil Greenberg
The role of occupational physicians in acute hospitals and the NHS growing OH program, presented by Dr Shriti Pattani
Date: Wednesday, 7 September 2022, 6pm (AEST)
#itswhatyouknow - WA Branch Webinar
llumination in the workplace and its impact on health and safety
Presenter: Dr John Sammarco
Date: Wednesday, 21 September 2022, 6pm (AWST)
To register and for more information, visit ANZSOM.
Not an ANZSOM member?
Subscribe to ANZSOM news.
The College recently made a submission to the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) regarding its audit of the Department of Health’s management of the expansion of telehealth services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic from March 2020.
This submission highlighted the fact that telehealth by phone and video has delivered a range of benefits including improved access to much-needed specialist and allied healthcare for priority and underserved populations in remote, rural, and urban communities who might otherwise be excluded because of geography, mobility, technology, or preference factors.
It also stressed that the best option for consultation length and modality (face-to-face, telehealth by phone or video) should be decided jointly by the patient and the doctor based on what type of care is clinically appropriate and practically achievable. Recent restrictions that have been applied to telephone telehealth items risk increasing health inequities and may lead to some patients deferring or foregoing care altogether, leading to increased demand for acute care services.
The College continues to advocate for the reinstatement of telehealth MBS items by phone via our media releases.
You are invited to take part in the Practitioner Perspectives on Gender Diverse Identity study, which explores the attitudes and beliefs around gender diversity within the healthcare community. The aim of the study is to understand how medical and allied health practitioners view the development of gender-diverse identities and the roles they play in the course of that development.
By agreeing to participate in the study, you will be asked to take part in an online survey that should take approximately 20 minutes to complete. To thank you for your time, you will also be invited to attend a webinar about how gender-diverse identities develop and evidence-based recommendations for practice. Recordings of the webinar and slide packs will be made available for practitioners who are unable to attend.
Register for the study. For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ep83: Loving Medicine Again
In the last episode we heard some powerful examples of the challenges faced by practitioners in medicine.
In this episode we hear from doctor-career coaches Ashe Coxon and Sarah Dalton who help medics solve workplace challenges and encourages them to remember what drew them to the profession.
Associate Professor Peter Connaughton describes burnout as an occupational health issue that needs to be solved organisationally. These presentations were recorded at Congress 2021, but a listener has shared simple gestures that can make a world of difference to colleagues stretched thin at a busy hospital.
- Dr Stephen Philpot FCICM (Alfred Health, Cabrini Hospital)
- Dr Ash Coxon FRACGP (Townsville Hospital; Medical Career Planning)
- Dr Sarah Dalton FRACP (Westmead Children’s Hospital;
- Associate Professor Peter Connaughton FAFOEM (Curtin University; University of Notre Dame)
Subscribe to email alerts or search for ‘Pomegranate Health’ in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Castbox, or any podcasting app. Fellows of the RACP can claim CPD credits for listening via MyCPD. For a transcript and further references please visit our website.
Trainees and new Fellows, this is your chance to be recognised for your research.
The prestigious annual RACP Trainee Research Awards are open and accepting submissions across all Divisions, Faculties and Chapters. Winners will be selected from each Australian state/territory and from Aotearoa New Zealand, and will be invited to present alongside recognised researchers at RACP Congress 2023. Winners will also receive complimentary registration and travel, and will have their abstracts published in the Congress supplement of the Internal Medicine Journal or the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health.
Trainees and new Fellows undertaking post-Fellowship training with the RACP are encouraged to apply.
For information about eligibility, selection criteria, the abstract submission, and applying, visit the RACP Trainee Research Awards webpage. Submit your application by Tuesday, 31 August 2022, 11.59pm AEST.
Genomics can provide greater understanding and more effective diagnosis of genetic conditions, from the relatively common to the extremely rare. This new self-paced online course has been designed to educate physicians on how to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families and communities by working together to create world-class genomic research and clinical care.
Visit RACP Online Learning to view our extensive range of online learning resources, and earn CPD credits while you learn.
Don’t forget to log in to the ROC and join the conversation. We’d love to hear your thoughts regarding our top three trending topics for July:
- 2023 MyCPD requirements
- How do you encourage trainees to reflect on professionalism?
- Your top 3 priorities for your practice, patients & community?
You can also take part in Mentor Match. This innovative program helps you find and connect with others based on your mentoring preferences and professional goals. Register as a mentor or mentee and kickstart your mentoring relationship today.
The ROC allows you to connect with your colleagues, share your thoughts, and have your opinions heard. Log in and explore the ROC today.
Are you looking to book your spring getaway or the family summer holiday?
Don't forget to check out great offers from our travel partners on lounge access, car rentals, hotel bookings, and more.
For more information, visit: Australian Member Access or Aotearoa New Zealand Member Access.
Let's go to the Market NZ
The Market NZ provides an online shopping experience with great offers on products ranging from tech and electronics to fashion, food, and more. Log in now to start shopping for Father’s Day.
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Check the Expressions of Interest page at any time, to find out if there are any opportunities that are of benefit to you.
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians publishes notices of events and courses as a service to members. Such publication does not constitute endorsement or mandating of any such events or courses.
Go to the events list at any time to see what events are coming up.
AFOEM contact details
AFOEM Faculty enquiries (including Council and committees):
AFOEM Executive Officer
AFOEM Education and Training enquiries:
Phone: +61 2 8247 6268
AFOEM Examination enquiries:
Examination Coordinator, Assessment Services
AFOEM training site accreditation inquiries:
Site Accreditation Unit
AFOEM CPD enquiries: