AFOEM eBulletin – 26 June 2020

A message from your President

Five months after the first case of COVID-19 in Australia and four months after the first case in Aotearoa New Zealand, COVID-19 continues to dominate the healthcare and public policy agendas. This pandemic has important flow on effects to the activities of the College and our Faculty. AFOEM members continue to contribute to information and debate on COVID-19 and to demonstrate the important contribution that occupational and environmental physicians are making to manage this crisis. One example is a series of three webinars to be held for the signatories of Health Benefits of Good Work with the theme ‘Returning to a new normal: Managing return-to-work in a post COVID-19 world’.  

In addition, Associate Professor Peter Connaughton and Dr Mary Wyatt have put together a video Q&A about supporting workplaces during COVID-19 which can be viewed on YouTube. Dr Warren Harrex, AFOEM President-elect, has also written an opinion piece, due out later this month, for the InPsych magazine of the Australian Psychological Society on how to return to work safely as workers return to the workplace following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.   

Following the cancellation of the AFOEM 2020 exams, we have formed a Working Group to plan for arrangements for the exams to be held in 2021. I am Chairing this group, which also includes Chairs of the AFOEM Education, Training and Assessment Committees. Importantly, two AFOEM trainees are providing valuable input; Dr Michael Tombros and Dr Amy Bright. The Working Group is also considering other needed modifications to training program arrangements to minimise disruption to the progress of trainees. One example is the plan for trainee research presentations to be given as part of a Zoom meeting later this year in place of face-to-face presentations which were to be held at the cancelled 2020 Congress. We will keep trainees and supervisors informed as new plans are made.

Formation of the AFOEM committees for the next two years is continuing. We rely heavily on the contribution of many of our Fellows and trainees to serve on these important committees and I’m very grateful for their input. We have many new committee members, too numerous to mention all of them individually in this post, but I will highlight two new appointees. I’m pleased to announce that Dr Robin Chase has been appointed as the new Chair of the Faculty Policy & Advocacy Committee (FPAC). Robin is a previous AFOEM President and former Chair of FPAC and so brings a wealth of experience to chairing what is one of the key AFOEM Committees. 

I’d also like to welcome Dr Dominic Yong to AFOEM Council as the new ANZSOM representative. Dominic is the President-elect for ANZSOM and a former AFOEM Council representative from Victoria. I am looking forward to working with Dominic and the current ANZSOM President, Ms Melinda Miller, in further developing the AFOEM/ANZSOM collaborative relationship. I’d also like to pay special thanks to Dr Miguel Kabilio, who was the first ANZSOM representative on AFOEM Council, for his valuable contribution following the signing of the Model of Collaboration between our two organisations.

I recently took part in a Zoom meeting with Peter McIntyre, the CEO of the College, with the Presidents of the other two RACP Faculties: Public Health Medicine and Rehabilitation Medicine. This was a follow up meeting to previous discussions relating to the ‘Future of the Faculty’ report prepared by AFPHM almost three years ago. That report highlighted a range of issues that AFPHM had been having as a consequence of the move to the ‘One College’ structure with centralisation of many College activities and decision making.  Most of these issues are also very relevant to AFOEM and AFRM. This meeting was a very useful opportunity to highlight the specific needs of the Faculties and in particular training posts outside the hospital system. I am strongly committed to working closely with the other two Faculty Presidents, the CEO and other senior College staff and the College Board to bring about much needed reform for Faculty governance and training.  

The new AFOEM Council will be meeting for the first time next month and as part of that there will be a planning session to be held by Zoom. This format has its challenges, but this is a great opportunity for the Council to focus on the main priorities of AFOEM over the next two years. One key aspect for discussion will be the issues raised in the Future of the Faculty report referred to above, but this planning session will also provide an opportunity for thinking ‘outside the square’ in terms of future development of occupational and environmental medicine in our two countries. Feel free to contact your regional committee representative on Council to raise any issues or ideas you may have for discussion at the AFOEM planning session.  

I am very keen to include more content from AFOEM Fellows and Trainees in the monthly AFOEM eBulletin. This could include a paper you have published, an award you have received, a program you have been involved with or anything else you think will be of interest to your colleagues. Please email any news items to the AFOEM office at AFOEM@racp.edu.au.

Malcolm

Professor Malcolm Sim
AFOEM President

Update on postponed Faculty exams 

We have recently announced the planned months for the rescheduled 2020 AFOEM exams.

These are the earliest possible months to hold the exams and they are dependent on the ongoing improvement of the COVID-19 situation. These dates are subject to change should the situation change. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and will ensure all trainees receive at least three months' notice of the exam dates once they are confirmed. An update will be provided in August. 

For any questions about the Faculty exams, please contact Faculty.Examinations@racp.edu.au.

Exam Cohort Planned month 
 AFOEM Stage A Written Examination 2020 and 2021  Second half of 2021 
 AFOEM Stage B Written Examination 2020 and 2021
Second half of 2021
 AFOEM Stage B Practical Examination 2020 and 2021
Second half of 2021

Congress Online Series

Congress is now online

Last week, Professor John Wilson AM, RACP President launched the RACP Online Congress Series. A first of its kind for the College and members, as we are delivering the series entirely online. From June to December you can join live webinars and access on-demand content including videos, podcasts and past recordings.

Given the role physicians and trainees play in the current healthcare crisis, the Online Congress Series is being delivered free for all members this year. Visit the Congress website for more information about upcoming webinars.

Professor Catherine Crock AM opens Congress with her keynote address on 'Balancing science with humanity: how kindness restores the whole in medicine'

Login to the RACP Online Series platform using your username and MIN to view the opening keynote address on-demand – one not to be missed.

The College and AFOEM’s advocacy to address accelerated silicosis in the engineered stone sector continues

The College’s advocacy on accelerated silicosis is jointly led by Fellows from AFOEM and the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) through the Lead Fellows Group on Accelerated Silicosis which comprises members of AFOEM: 

  • Professor Malcolm Sim – AFOEM President
  • Dr Warren Harrex – AFOEM President-elect
  • Dr Graeme Edwards – RACP spokesperson on silicosis
  • Dr Beata Byok – immediate past AFOEM President
  • Dr Alexandra Muthu
  • Dr Evelyn Lee. 

And members from TSANZ:

  • Dr Ryan Hoy
  • Associate Professor Deborah Yates. 

It also includes representatives from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR). It meets monthly by video conference to discuss how things are progressing with our joint policy and advocacy activities on accelerated silicosis and to provide updates on recent relevant activities across the states and territories.

Nationally, the College and AFOEM representatives participated in a virtual workshop organised by the National Dust Disease Taskforce in March 2020 which focused on the development of nationally consistent clinical guidelines. Dr Edwards FAFOEM, and Dr Ryan Hoy FRACP, are both members of the Taskforce which was established in July 2019 as a direct result of sustained advocacy for a national taskforce by AFOEM and TSANZ.

In NSW, Dr Edwards and Associate Professor Deborah Yates FRACP, represented the College at a public hearing for the 2019 NSW Dust Diseases Scheme Review which focused on accelerated silicosis in NSW in September 2019 following the submission of the College’s response to this review.

The College submission and the expert testimonies of Dr Edwards and Associate Professor Yates were extensively referenced in the Review’s report to the NSW Government published in March 2020. Many of the College’s recommendations were taken up in the report including the call for the NSW Government to immediately introduce a ban on dry cutting (Recommendation 9); implement a case finding study for respirable crystalline silica exposure in the manufactured stone industry, to improve the identification and assessment of workers at risk of exposure (Recommendation 11) and to establish a silicosis register (Recommendation 12). It is encouraging that the NSW Government has already announced that it will ban dry cutting and make silicosis a notifiable disease from 1 July 2020 as well as agreeing to set up a ‘silicosis health register’.

AFOEM interview series

It has been a privilege to interview colleagues who have dedicated their careers to occupational medicine. These short interviews have allowed me to discover some incredible people and examples of diversity, passion and outstanding service which we can all learn from.

On this occasion, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr David Goddard who needs no formal introduction. He wrote the AFOEM Training Curriculum, he conducts the RACP Supervisor Professional Development Program workshops and is honoured by ANZSOM with the ‘David Goddard Best Paper Award’. He has also received the Vice-Chancellor Award from Monash University for both ‘25 years of Service’ and for ‘Distinguished Teaching’. 

Dr Farhan Shahzad MBBS, FAFOEM, Consultant Occupational Physician

An interview with Dr David Goddard 

Farhan: Thanks for joining us David. Please tell us about your personal life and medical training.

David: My pleasure Farhan. I was born in Melbourne in 1944. I married Ruth in 1971.  She and I do Zumba, orienteering and learn French together. I studied medicine at Monash, graduating in 1969. I returned there in 1990 to teach and am still there – part-time now, teaching occupational medicine.

Farhan: What attracted you to specialise in occupational medicine and then your role as a physician educator?

David: During my early childhood, my grandfather introduced me fondly to railways and rail travel.  Three and a half years after I graduated from medicine, I took a job with the Victorian Railways to assess the fitness of job applicants for safety-critical roles and employees returning to work after sickness or injury.  I then joined ANZSOM, almost 46 years ago.

I took leave to study full-time for a Diploma in Occupational Health at the University of Sydney. There, Professor David Ferguson encouraged my interest in preventive medicine.

This interest grew in my next job where I essentially worked as a medical inspector of workplaces for the Victorian Health Department. This role extended to education which henceforth became my major professional activity for the last 30 years. I gained inspiration as an educator very early in my career as a doctor and take absolute pleasure in receiving feedback from students, that they have found my teachings helpful. 

Farhan: Please tell us about your achievements, highlights of your career and ongoing work with AFOEM?

David: I’m a Medical Educator. Wherever I’ve been the visible face of some educative achievement, e.g. the delivery of the AFOEM Training Curriculum, it’s been my colleagues or my students that have ‘carried me on their shoulders’.  

Working with colleagues enabled me to deliver the AFOEM Training Curriculum in December 2009 and, for Monash University and AFOEM, to write over 70 Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) Stations and over a thousand MCQs.

I was a member of what is now the AFOEM Assessment Committee for 19 years and took the lead in preparing the inaugural examination for Stage A of the AFOEM training program. However, the everlasting highlight of my professional life has been and continues to be working with my colleagues and students.

Farhan: Your work in Australasia has supported occupational medicine qualifications, post graduate training and much, much more. What do you see as being your legacy and message?

David: My legacy is that I’ve helped people to learn about caring for the health of workers. By doing this to the extent that my former students want to continue this, I am very pleased. I expect that some of my students will go on to lead opinion.  

I have two messages:

  1. Do supervise trainees. Such work will bring you insights, laughter and many pleasures albeit the occasional embarrassment.
  2. The ethic, ‘But first do no harm’ applies to giving preventive advice. Creating anxiety can usefully drive short term action (fight or flight), but it can be as unethical to raise anxiety by overstating a need for prevention as it is to try to lessen anxiety by offering unwarranted reassurance. Take account of likely extent of exposure to a harmful agent before giving advice.

Applications closing soon – RACP Foundation Research Awards 

Don’t miss your chance to apply for funding for 2021 under the following award categories:

Faculty awards include:

  • The AFOEM Registrar Travel Fellowship which provides support to an AFOEM registrar to undertake overseas study in an aspect of occupational and environmental medicine.
  • The AFOEM Research Development Grant is available to fund smaller research projects to support and encourage research in the field of occupational and environmental medicine.

Applications for Research Entry Scholarships, Research Development Scholarships and Travel Grants are due on Monday, 13 July 2020.

Please refer to the RACP Foundation wepage for information on specific eligibility requirements for each award.

College medals and awards

Nominations open Wednesday, 1 July 2020 for College prizes. They acknowledge outstanding contributions and achievements made by Fellows and trainees in their respective fields.

We encourage you to nominate for the following medals:

  • 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.
  • The Eric Susman Prize is awarded by the College to a Fellow for the best contribution to the knowledge of internal medicine.

Successful nominees are presented a medal at the RACP Congress and receive full Congress registration, return economy airfares and up to three nights’ accommodation.

Full details are available on the RACP Foundation webpage.

Trainee Research Awards 2020

Applications for the Trainee Research Awards are open from Wednesday, 1 July to Monday, 31 August 2020. Trainees and New Fellows undertaking post-Fellowship training are encouraged to apply.

The Trainee Research Awards provide a valuable opportunity for trainees to present their research at an Australian regional or Aotearoa New Zealand event. The best presenters from each local event are invited to be part of the Research and Innovation stream at the RACP Congress. Selected representatives will also receive complimentary registration, return airfares and accommodation for three nights to attend the RACP Congress.

Please send your abstract submissions or inquiries by email to your respective regional RACP offices.

New, free 24/7, 365 days a year, confidential mental health counselling service 

Doctors and medical students around Australia now have access to free, confidential telehealth mental health services through the new Drs4Drs Support Service, which has been established by Doctors’ Health Services Limited (DrHS).

The Drs4Drs Support Service provides crisis support, as well as non-urgent mental health support, and complements services provided by the network of state-based doctors’ health advisory services that are also funded by DrHS. 

Corporate mental health provider, Converge International, will deliver the Drs4Drs Support Service, deploying mental health professionals who are experienced in helping people work through workplace issues, conflict management, relationship concerns, financial problems, legal matters and lifestyle issues. 

All services funded by DrHS are completely confidential. DrHS does not receive any information that could identify anyone using this service, as they appreciate patient privacy is paramount and provide the option of anonymity.

DrHS is a subsidiary of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), established with funding from the Medical Board of Australia to provide health and wellbeing support to medical students and doctors.

The Drs4Drs Support Service is funded by a grant from the Federal Department of Health, allowing participants to have up to three free telehealth counselling sessions.

Accessing the Drs4Drs Support Service is simple. Doctors and medical students can call 1300 374 377 (1300 DR4 DRS) or visit Drs4Drs.com.au – a national one-stop-shop for wellness and support resources for the medical profession.

Supporting prevention and management of COVID-19 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, the Lowitja Institute and The Australian National University are working together to provide practical and timely advice for primary healthcare teams supporting prevention and management of COVID-19 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia.

An expert committee guiding the work is providing recommendations for healthcare workers operating in Aboriginal community-controlled health services and other primary care settings.

The first set of recommendations was released on National Sorry Day 2020, a day to acknowledge and recognise members of the Stolen Generations as part of an ongoing process of healing. Visit the NACCHO website for updates.

Read RACP Quarterly online

RACP Quarterly is our member magazine featuring healthcare and medical news. In Issue Two 2020 we move to our new online platform for this magazine.

After feedback from many of our members about the ongoing carbon footprint of printing and postage of the hard-copy magazine, we intended to transition at the end of this year to an online only publication. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to re-evaluate our plans and bring forward the move to an online only publication for the RACP Quarterly magazine from now and into the future.

In this issue we feature the RACP Fellows recognised in the Australia Day 2020 Honours and the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2020 in both Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. Congratulations to the recipients – these awards highlight the outstanding work RACP members do and the importance of that work in local, national and international communities.

This issue also features a range of articles in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • How are our hospitals and members dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Supporting trainees through the pandemic
  • The race to find a vaccine
  • New Telehealth items for physicians and their patients
  • The demand for access to Personal Protective Equipment during COVID-19
  • Physicians leading the way on opioid treatment during a global pandemic.

Other highlights in this issue include ‘On the frontline of Australia’s worst bushfire season on record’, ‘Guidelines for ethical relationships between health professionals and industry’, ‘Navigating healthcare the Māori way’ and ‘Turning back the clock on heart attacks’.

Read RACP Quarterly Issue Two 2020 online now. 

Access previous editions of RACP Quarterly on the RACP website.

New Pomegranate podcast: Ep59: Essential Ethics in Paediatrics 

The ethical questions that come up in paediatrics can appear overwhelming to begin with. When can a child be said to have cognitive capacity and bodily autonomy? For those who don’t, where does the guardianship of the parent give way to that of the medical professionals? When might treating one child have implications for the resources available to others? And what about not treating or vaccinating a child, if that is what the parents want?

All of these issues are tackled in the Essential Ethics podcast, produced within the Children's Bioethics Centre in Melbourne. The Centre was established at the Royal Children’s Hospital to promote the rights of young patients and to support families and clinicians facing some vexing ethical questions. The Essential Ethics podcast takes a case-based approach to demonstrate how dilemmas in clinical ethics can be worked through in a systematic way. A couple of these are presented as part of the RACP Online Congress Series program.

In the first story discussed, a child with autism spectrum disorder is suspected of having COVID-19, but the mother refuses testing as it will distress him for little gain. The second, real life case, is that of a 16-month-old boy born with a developmental abnormality of the lower leg. In the most severe cases the recommended clinical management involves amputation, but this boy’s deformity can be corrected through a number of involved surgeries. Orthopaedic surgeon Dr Chris Harris describes the confronting course he had to take. He is interviewed by paediatric respiratory physician Professor John Massie and clinical ethicist Professor Lynn Gillam. They are respectively the Clinical Lead and Academic Director of the Children's Bioethics Centre and both have Professorial appointments at the University of Melbourne.

Guests:

  • Professor Lynn Gillam (Academic Director, Children’s Bioethics Centre, University of Melbourne)
  • Professor John Massie FRACP (Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, University of Melbourne)
  • Dr Chris Harris FRACS (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 podcast

Open letter to Food Forum Ministers: It is time for a clear, visible health warning label on alcohol products 

For over a decade, the College and other medical and public health bodies have advocated for effective, mandatory labelling of alcohol products with pregnancy-related warnings. Responsible Ministers from all jurisdictions are yet again preparing to debate this urgent matter. The decisive meeting is planned for mid-July 2020. 

In March 2020, the Ministers delayed approving the evidence-based labelling scheme recommended by Food Safety Australia New Zealand to allow for a review of the use of the colour red in the warnings. Best evidence clearly shows that the colour red is essential for the label to be noticed, trusted and understood as a warning. It is also clear that the alcohol industry has used the issue to further delay the mandatory implementation of clear and visible labelling of alcohol on the market.

Our close collaborators at the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education have launched a timely online letter urging the Ministers to finally endorse the implementation of appropriate health warnings on alcoholic products across Australia. The College is a strong supporter of the letter.

The industry and the decision-makers have had enough time. As the letter states, “watering down the label through changes to its colour, size or wording would be risking the health and wellbeing of thousands of Australians for years to come". 

Please sign the online letter and share it with your networks and on social media. It only takes a couple of minutes and is part of a wider campaign to persuade the Ministers to do the right thing, at last. 

Read findings from RACP voluntary member survey on telehealth in Australia

In May 2020, the RACP conducted a voluntary survey to all its practising Australian-based members on their use of the new Medicare Benefits Schedule telehealth attendance items introduced for COVID-19. A summary report is available, highlighting the impacts of the new telehealth items and outlining key findings and recommendations. 

Learn more

Evolve case studies 

To support the implementation of Evolve and Choosing Wisely recommendations in clinical practice, we have developed two case studies depicting clinical scenarios in which recommendations on reducing low-value care apply. These case studies explore a clinical scenario based on one of the Evolve recommendations on low-value care.

Evolve is seeking enthusiastic Fellows and trainees to partner with us in developing case studies for more specialties. The aim of the case studies is to support Fellows and trainees to build an understanding of low-value care within their specialty and act as a tool for clinical educators and supervisors. Email evolve@racp.edu.au to get involved.

Supporting the health of people with disability during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Commonwealth Department of Health have prepared a range of fact sheets for health professionals regarding supporting the health of people with disability during the COVID-19 pandemic. In her capacity as President of the Australian Association of Disability Medicine, President-elect Dr Jacqueline Small was part of the advisory committee which developed the resources and which has continued meeting to oversee the implementation of the plan.

The fact sheets complement the recently released Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability and associated resources. 

College endorsement of the Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism

The College recently developed a Statement on Organ Trafficking condemning the trafficking in organs, including removing organs from living or deceased donors without valid consent or authorisation. As a further step to demonstrate support for ending organ trafficking, the RACP Ethics Committee has led the work of formal RACP endorsement of the Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism

The Declaration aims to provide ethical guidance for professionals and policymakers on how the benefits of transplantation can be maximised and shared equitably with those in need, without reliance on unethical, harmful and exploitative practises. The Declaration outlines 11 key principles to eliminate trafficking of organs and establish ethical frameworks for the legitimate sourcing of organs for transplantation.  

The College is pleased to formally endorse the Declaration and is committed to upholding the principles of the Declaration in all our activities and supporting our members to do the same.

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.

Career opportunities

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

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):

Lisa Helson, 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
Close overlay