AFOEM eBulletin – 21 August 2020

A message from your President

COVID-19 continues to dominate the health landscape, especially here in Melbourne, where we are in Stage 4 lockdown; compulsory face masks, nightly curfew, work permits and the army on the streets. Before 2020, who would have believed this could happen in Australia? The unpredictability of COVID-19 and the insidious nature of the coronavirus has been highlighted in Aotearoa New Zealand, where after more than 100 days of zero community transmission, a new outbreak has been identified. This demonstrates the need for continued vigilance in the COVID-19 response. A worrying development has been the high proportion of new cases in Melbourne being among healthcare and aged care workers. Clearly, infection control procedures have not been adequate in these sectors, putting not just the health of these workers at risk, but jeopardising the sustainability of the health and aged care workforces.  

Many other workplaces also continue to have outbreaks, in particular meat processing and supermarket distribution centres and supermarkets. This continues to highlight the important contribution that occupational and environmental medicine is making to the COVID-19 response. In Victoria, we now have about 20 of our Fellows and registrars assisting Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Worksafe Victoria in a range of roles focused on reducing workplace transmission and maintaining business continuity, especially in essential industries. RACP recently undertook a survey of COVID-19 PPE use and training among its members and found availability of suitable PPE and training were deficient. AFOEM contributed to the resulting media release, which informed public debate about this important issue.

Another recent development which demonstrates the important role of occupational and environmental medicine is the appointment of one of our senior Fellows, Dr Rob McCartney, as Chief Medical Officer for Woolworths with a focus on leading the COVID-19 response for that company and its more than 200,000 employees. This is a welcome reversal of a recent trend of companies shedding occupational and environmental physicians (OEPs) in our two countries. Rob’s appointment attracted considerable media interest, such as this article in the Australian Financial Review. We wish Rob well in this important role and hope that this will be a forerunner of other companies turning to OEPs for the type of holistic advice we can offer to help them respond to COVID-19.

The first meeting of the new AFOEM Council was held on 28 July and was preceded by a planning session on 27 July to help shape the next two years of AFOEM activities.  Both were held virtually by Zoom and despite the lack of face-to-face interaction and the usual informal conversations over lunch, these were very productive meetings. Council developed an ambitious two-year work plan, which will help to guide our future advocacy, policy and training activities. You will hear more about progress against this work plan in coming months. Below is a screenshot of the virtual Council meeting.
AFOEM Council
 
AFOEM Council is keen to increase the range and reach of seminars for its members.  In the past, these have tended to be regional face-to-face activities, but with the huge expansion of the use of Zoom and similar platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic, we now have the ability to make these available across our two countries. The ability to record these seminars is also increasing accessibility. A recent example is the Dr Steven Ng Memorial Lecture held by the NSW Regional Committee. As many of you will remember, Steven was a very popular Fellow of AFOEM and was actively involved in many AFOEM committees and projects. He tragically died in 2016 and an annual lecture has been held in his honour each year. The most recent was held as a webinar on 1 August and had two presenters: Professor Raina McIntyre who spoke on PPE for healthcare workers during COVID-19 and one of our Fellows, Associate Professor David Helsop, who spoke about the application of public health and occupational and environmental medicine in rebooting the NRL 2020 premiership season. These were both fascinating and insightful talks and provoked considerable discussion about many aspects of the COVID-19 response. If you missed the webinar, you can view it online. The list of lively questions and responses following the presentations can also be seen on the RACP website

While this has been a COVID-19 dominated President’s Post, I’ll finish by promoting the recent report by my research group at Monash on occupational lung diseases (OLDs) in Australia 2006-2019. This report was commissioned by Safe Work Australia (SWA) and is a review of trends and data sources relating to this important group of occupational diseases since our previous review for SWA in 2006. It will not be a surprise to any of you that the pneumoconioses have become the dominant type of OLD with the upsurge in coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and accelerated silicosis in stonemasons from working with artificial stone. The report highlights the gaps in knowledge and deficiencies in the way these diseases are monitored in Australia and advocates for a national OLD registry to inform, and monitor the success of, prevention measures. While the report focuses on the situation in Australia, there are important messages which will also apply in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Lastly, I would like to welcome Ms Shauna Duffy, who has very recently joined AFOEM as our new Executive Officer. Shauna is originally from Ireland but has been living in Australia for a few years and has considerable experience in working with large organisations, including the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Please let Shauna know of any news items you would like to have included in a future President’s Post by email: AFOEM@racp.edu.au.

Malcolm

Professor Malcolm Sim
AFOEM President

AFOEM Fellows interview series

This series provides insight into the careers of retired and actively serving physicians in occupational medicine. 

On this occasion, I had the pleasure of speaking with our highly esteemed colleague from Perth, Dr Michael Lucas.

Dr Farhan Shahzad MBBS, FAFOEM, Consultant Occupational Physician, Sydney

An interview with Dr Michael Lucas FAFOEM

Farhan: Michael thanks for joining us, a pleasure to have you, please tell us about yourself and your medical training?

Michael: I graduated from the University of Western Australia (UWA) in 1984. I completed a two year residency at Royal Perth Hospital (RPH), travelled for a year, and then completed a four year Family Medicine Program, during which I undertook further studies in sports and occupational medicine, obtaining a Licentiateship with the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) Faculty of Occupational Medicine and Fellowships with the College of GPs and our own Faculty. I completed a Grad Dip and a Masters in Occupational Health and Safety at Curtin University before completing PhD studies under the supervision of Professor Lin Fritschi at UWA and Adjunct Professor Lesley Day at Monash. 

Farhan: Please tell us how you developed an interest in occupational and environmental medicine?

Michael: As an undergraduate I was intrigued by the history of medicine, further inspired by visits to Padua and the museum at the College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. Occupational injuries featured prominently in my early work career and I became increasingly involved in industry before combining this with a medicolegal career. In recent years I have undertaken work opportunities in WA, VIC, SA and TAS.          

Farhan: Please share with us your achievements, memories and highlights of your career?

Michael: I was a recipient of the Ramazzini prize in 1999. I have been an undergraduate mentor for UWA medical students, a provider for an occupational medicine student elective and a supervisor and examiner for the RACGP and AFOEM. I have had the honour of being the State Chair of the WA committees of ANZSOM, AFOEM and the RACP and was an inaugural state representative on the RACP College Council. I have served as an Expert Member on the WA Commission for Occupational Safety and Health and most recently stepped back from the role as WA AFOEM Federal Representative. I worked for many years as an Occupational Physician/Advisor to the Licensing Branch of the WA Department of Transport.  

I currently spend my consulting time between WA and VIC, most recently via telemedicine. My time off is spent trekking – most recently in Patagonia, visiting my 92 year-old mum with whom I travelled to Russia last year…riding my Harley motorcycle and doing tapestries.

Farhan: Do you have a message for trainees and Fellow occupational physicians?

Michael: Treat every day and every opportunity as a learning experience. Grow in what you do. For me, being a physician is a humbling experience, one relatively few people get the opportunity to appreciate and enjoy. Interact with your wonderfully knowledgeable colleagues and be proud of your colleagues, our Faculty and our College. Despite the demands, occupational medicine is a wonderful career path.

Advanced Training Supervisor Reports due

Supervisor's Reports for all Australian Advanced Trainees are due Monday, 31 August 2020. Reports submitted after the deadline may result in the period of training not being certified.

We know this has been a busy time for many trainees and we don’t want you to miss out on your training being certified. 

The deadline for reports was extended to Monday, 31 August 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are unable to submit your completed Supervisor’s Report(s) by this date, you will need to apply for Special Consideration requesting a further extension. 

Please check your Specialty Handbook for any other mid-year requirements that may also be due.

Faculty awards and prizes

The AFOEM President’s Awards recognise outstanding contributions to the Faculty in the following areas:

  • education, training and assessment
  • policy and advocacy
  • trainee commitment.

Nominations are open from 10 August 2020 to 12 October 2020.

The AFOEM Essay Prize is open to medical students or interns in their first year after graduation. This prize is awarded for the best essay written additional to curriculum requirements, or the best research project or assignment on any topic in the fields of occupational or environmental health. Applications are open from 1 August to 30 October 2020.

Details about these prizes are available on the RACP Foundation website.

RACP Physician Advocacy Online Learning Resource Survey

The RACP Policy & Advocacy team, and Continuous Learning team, are supporting expert working group members to develop an online learning resource for physician advocacy. The resource aims to demystify advocacy by providing College members with an introduction to physician advocacy, along with the knowledge, skills, tools and practices needed to effectively advocate for issues affecting patients, the community and wider population. 

To help us deliver you a useful and practical physician advocacy online learning resource, RACP has developed a quick survey

What is the purpose of this survey?

The aim of this survey is to find out your understanding and experience with advocacy and how we can provide a resource that will support your existing knowledge and skills, and provide you with new and helpful tools, strategies and resources for physician advocacy.

How will my responses be used?

The results of this survey will be used by the RACP Policy & Advocacy team, and Continuous Learning team and the expert working group members to guide the development of the physician advocacy online learning resource.

Take the survey

RACP Congress Online Series

On-demand sessions

We invite you to explore the Online Congress Learning Series Platform to view the latest on-demand webinars and podcasts.

We are pleased to announce that the following sessions are now available to access and view on-demand. As part of the RACP Online Congress Series, this year the sessions are free for members. CPD credits are available for those who participate in these on-demand sessions.

  • WEBINAR: PROMOTING AN INCLUSIVE COMMUNITY FOR PEOPLE LIVING WITH DISABILITIES – Presented by Dr Harry Eeman, Professor Keith R. McVilly, Dr Jennifer Fitzgerald and Dr Warren Harrex. Co-chaired by Dr Beata Byok, Past-President of AFOEM and Dr Steve de Graff, FAFRM. 
    The joint AFOEM and AFRM webinar, ‘Promoting an inclusive community for people living with disabilities’ is now available to view on-demand. We invite you to watch this session online.  
    WATCH SESSION
  • WEBINAR: HEALTHY FUTURES, HEALTHY CITIES – Presented by Professor Tony Capon, Clinical Professor Meredith Makeham, Professor Jo Douglass, Dr Lucy Gunn and chaired by Professor John Wilson AM. Urban Density, once seen as a blight is now viewed as a necessary feature of existence. How can we design and ensure that cities are good for people? Climate change, digital existence, ageing, complexity, vulnerability and loneliness are new issues to deal with. The role of design for health in cities will be crucial.
    LOGIN TO ACCESS THE ON-DEMAND SESSION
  • WEBINAR: SILICOSIS: A MULTIDISCIPLINARY UPDATE ON THE IMPACTS, RISKS AND RECENT FINDINGS – Presented by Dr Ryan Hoy, Dr Wendy Stevens, Mr Brian Eva, Mrs Nicola Wojcik, Mr Bryan Monck and chaired by Dr Graeme Edwards. This multidisciplinary session provides an update on where we are now with accelerated silicosis within a state of the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch the panel discussion and hear from our speakers as they explain the impacts, risks and recent findings of occupational exposure to silica.
    WATCH SESSION

The platform is constantly updated, so please check back regularly to see the new releases. You can also subscribe to receive an update when new recordings become available. To do this, simply enter your email at the bottom of the RACP Congress program webpage.

Livestream webinars

Throughout September and October we will host a number of thought-provoking sessions with topics ranging from Evolve: Shared Decision Making, Gender Equity in Medicine, Heart Disease management update across the life continuum, Digital health tools during COVID-19, and more. Registration is available through the Congress website. Further details will be released in coming weeks.

REHABILITATION IN FIRST NATIONS AND REMOTE SETTINGS

You can now register for ‘Rehabilitation in First Nations and Remote Settings’, a livestream webinar which will be held in October. 

This session will highlight just some of the pressing health issues that Australia’s Indigenous communities are facing. Through awareness and education, we can all take steps to help improve these issues of the incarceration of Indigenous children, Indigenous youth suicides, the syphilis epidemic and the rural workforce and services.

Speaker panel includes: 

  • Dr Mick Creati
  • Professor Patricia Dudgeon
  • Associate Professor James Ward
  • Associate Professor Tamara Mackean
  • Chaired by: Associate Professor Luke Burchill

Date: Thursday, 29 October 2020
Time: 12pm to 1pm AEDT / 2PM TO 3PM NZDT
Where: Online
REGISTER

You can also register for our upcoming shared interest livestream webinars. The following sessions are now open for registration:

  • Evolve: Shared Decision Making
    Date: Tuesday, 8 September 2020 
    Time: 5pm to 6pm AEST / 7pm to 9pm NZST
    REGISTER 
     
  • Gender Equity in Medicine
    Date: Thursday, 24 September 2020
    Time: 12pm to 1pm AEST / 2pm to 3pm NZST
    REGISTER
     
  • Heart Disease management update across the life continuum 
    Date: Tuesday, 6 October 2020 
    Time: 6pm to 7pm AEDT / 8pm to 9pm NZDT
    REGISTER
     
  • ADHA and RACP present: Digital health tools during COVID-19 and beyond
    Date: Wednesday, 21 October 2020
    Time: 6pm to 7pm AEDT / 8pm to 9pm NZDT
    REGISTER 

Further details for each session will be updated on the Congress website and shared in coming weeks.  

College medals and awards

Nominations are now open for the following College prizes which acknowledge outstanding contributions and achievements made by Fellows and trainees in their respective fields:

  • The John Sands Medal recognises a Fellow who makes a significant contribution to the welfare of the 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.
  • International Medal recognises a member who has provided outstanding service in developing countries.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Trainee of the Year recognises a trainee who has made an outstanding contribution to College, community and trainee activities.
Deadline for submitting nominations for the prizes above is on Monday, 14 September 2020.
  • The Eric Susman Prize is awarded by the College to a Fellow for the best contribution to the knowledge of internal medicine. Nominations close on Monday, 31 August.
Full details are available on the RACP Foundation webpage.

Trainee Research Awards 2020

The closing date for Trainee Research Awards applications has been extended

Don’t miss the opportunity to present your research at an Australian regional or Aotearoa New Zealand virtual event and be selected to present at the RACP Congress 2021.

Trainees from all Divisions, Faculties and Chapters, and New Fellows undertaking post-Fellowship training are encouraged to submit abstracts on topics related to adult medicine or paediatric medicine.

Selected representatives will also receive complimentary registration, economy return airfares and accommodation if applicable, to attend the RACP Congress and have their abstract published.

Applications are due Monday, 14 September 2020. Email your application to your respective regional RACP office or contact them for further details.

AFOEM CPD Webinar Series

On Saturday, 1 August a webinar was held which discussed PPE for healthcare workers and rebooting the NRL in 2020. 

Professor Raina MacIntyre presented 'PPE for healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic'. 

Associate Professor David Heslop presented 'Integrated Public Health and Occupational and Environmental Medicine during the COVID-19 crisis – rebooting the NRL 2020 Premiership Season'.

This webinar is available online on the RACP website

AFOEM Ramazzini Prize 2020

The Ramazzini Prize is presented annually to an Advanced Trainee who presents the best scientific paper related to occupational and environmental medicine.

This year the presentations will take place via video conference on Tuesday, 1 September 2020 from 12.30pm to 3.30pm (AEST). 

If you would like to join as an audience member you can find the details on the event webpage

Update your member details

We want to make sure that we have your correct member details on the RACP’s Find a Consultant page.

We ask that you check your details are correct and if they need to be updated or added please contact afoem@racp.edu.au.

ANZSOM webinar on chronic pain

Physiotherapist  David Moen presents 'Permission to move: a refreshingly simple approach to chronic pain'.

The webinar will take place on Tuesday, 25 August 2020 at 6pm (Adelaide Local Time) and is free to all ANZSOM/AFOEM members. 

For further information or to register visit the event page on ANZSOM's website.

RACP advocacy for minimum unit pricing on alcohol already bearing fruit in the run-up to the NT election 

In the run-up to the Northern Territory election on 22 August 2020, RACP President Professor John Wilson AM and Chair of the NT Regional Committee, Dr Richard Budd, wrote to NT Health Minister and Attorney-General Natasha Fyles, leader of the Country Liberal Party, Lia Finocchiaro, and the leader of Territory Alliance, Terry Mills and asked them to publicly commit to retaining the NT's minimum unit price on alcohol. Professor Wilson and Dr Budd commended the success of the measure, stressed that it must be retained intact to ensure ongoing reductions in the level of alcohol-related harm in the NT, and noted that other jurisdictions are watching the pioneering initiative with a close interest.

The retention of minimum unit pricing is a key recommendation of the RACP NT election statement. The implementation of this pricing mechanism across Australia is a long-standing element of the RACP Alcohol Policy. The letter writing campaign has been accompanied by a media release and tweets on social media (Tweet 1Tweet 2). The campaign to extend minimum unit pricing to other jurisdictions continues apace, with the Queensland election in October 2020 the next stage of the push. 

The campaign has already borne fruit in the form of a letter from Minister Fyles committing to retaining minimum unit pricing and a range of other alcohol harm reduction measures and an offer to work closely with the NT Committee on this and related matters, should the current government be re-elected.

See the results of the RACP member survey on PPE access and use in Australia

Access to appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic for all College members on the front line of healthcare service delivery has been and remains a top advocacy priority for the College. To better inform our understanding of the current situation for members, the College distributed a voluntary survey to all practising Australian based members on their use of and access to PPE. We thank members for their participation, with 677 responses received. Our analysis of the survey results is available for download.

On 10 August 2020, the survey was launched on the front page of The Age newspaper and continued to generate media coverage with mentions in over 220 online articles, 200 radio and 200 TV hits.

Find out more

Medical Training Survey now open

The Medical Board of Australia’s Medical Training Survey is now open. 

Look out for the survey link when you renew your registration. You can also find your survey link in your Ahpra confirmation of registration email. 

Interns and international medical graduates will receive their survey link via email from the Medical Board of Australia.

For more information, including the results from last year and how they’re being used to strengthen training, visit the Medical Training Survey website.

New Pomegranate podcast: Ep62: Essential Ethics in Adolescent Health

In episode 59 we shared a sampler of the Essential Ethics podcast from the Children's Bioethics Centre, at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne. A couple of case studies were presented to help us define ‘the zone of parental discretion’ – a space in which decision-making about a child’s medical care is conceded to parents even if it is not optimal clinical management.

Today’s thought experiments come from the oncology department. First, we are asked to consider when an adolescent should be permitted to make autonomous decisions about their health, even if these would lead to worse clinical outcomes. How does a clinical team decide whether to accept this wish or to override it?  

In the second case study, the outcome has already been determined by an incurable brain tumour. A 14 year-old-girl has been diagnosed with a high grade medulloblastoma. Therapy has little chance of cure but around 30 per cent of patients have their life prolonged by two or three years, however it comes with disabling side effects. The parents want to bypass recommended treatment and try prayer and natural therapies instead. Does this terminal prognosis broaden the zone of parental discretion, and how can the clinical team help the family with the terrible choices they have to make? 

Guests

  • Professor John Massie FRACP (Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute)
  • Associate Professor Clare Delany (Children’s Bioethics Centre, University of Melbourne)
  • Dr Diane Hanna FRACP (Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research)
  • Dr Kanika Bhatia FRACP (Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne)
  • Dr Molly Williams FRACP, FAChPM (Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne)

Fellows of the RACP can claim CPD credits via MyCPD for listening to this episode and reading the resources.

Subscribe to Pomegranate Health in Apple iTunesSpotify or any Android podcasting app.

Listen to the podcast

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  • transfers to 197 countries in 55 currencies. 

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Expressions of Interest  

Check the Expressions of Interest page at any time, to find out if there are any opportunities that are of benefit to you. 

Career opportunities 

For career opportunities, view all positions vacant on the RACP website.

Conferences and events

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

Member enquiries
Phone: 
(AUS) 1300 69 7227
Phone: 
(NZ) 0508 69 7227
Email: 
memberservices@racp.edu.au 

AFOEM Faculty enquiries (including Council and committees):

Shauna Duffy, AFOEM Executive Officer
Phone: +61 2 8247 6251 
Email: afoem@racp.edu.au

AFOEM Health Benefits of Good Work (HBGW) enquiries:
Email: HBGW@racp.edu.au

AFOEM Education and Training enquiries:
Email: occenvmed@racp.edu.au

AFOEM Examination enquiries:
Examination Coordinator, Assessment and Selection Unit
Email: faculty.examinations@racp.edu.au

AFOEM training site accreditation inquiries:
Site Accreditation Unit
Email: accreditation@racp.edu.au

AFOEM CPD enquiries:
Email: mycpd@racp.edu.au
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