AFOEM eBulletin – 9 February 2018

Directly Observed Field Skills assessment via remote supervision: a variation available to AFOEM trainees and supervisors

Dr Csongor Oltvolgyi, works as a Remote Maritime Doctor, contracting to the Australian Border Force, and talks about his latest training period and the utilisation of an under resourced training modality for AFOEM trainees and supervisors.

In my primary role as an offshore doctor I work a 28 days on / 28 days off roster aboard a ship in the Indian Ocean. The workplace is replete with fascinating hazards, from engine rooms to sewage systems, paint lockers to crane operations, and galleys to small boat operations. With such a wealth of possibility, I decided to make arrangements to assess confined space entry operations for my latest Directly Observed Field Skills (DOFS) assessment, in the context of a previously ill worker returning to full duties. 

However, following discussion with my primary supervisor we discovered that our calendars did not align and upon his suggestion, I took the opportunity (which I wasn’t previously aware existed) to perform a DOFS with remote supervision and assessment.

The remotely supervised DOFS required some additional preparation, but I feel that this translated into a stronger learning experience. Firstly, I had to record my observations and survey with a small hand-held camera. I was able to get a cheap one for less than $100, and with a 32 MB SD card had up to five hours of recording available to me (fortunately for my supervisor I did not avail myself of all that space). Before conducting the activity, I really had to carefully plan what it is that I was going to observe, so that I didn't end up with endless uninformative footage that would require significant editing. I also had to gain express consent to film multiple workers doing their job (which thankfully they were very happy to provide). In the end, I filmed close to 20 short clips to cover everything from the toolbox talk, to lock-out tagging, rescues gear, ingress, in-tank tasks, and egress.

In order to assist my supervisor, I also recorded a short introduction and closing comments, to provide context and analysis, respectively. I placed all of these on a USB which I then returned to my supervisor for viewing. I also included a pre-filled rating form so that my supervisor could easily fill that in and return it to me with feedback. Had I known how easy it is to combine the clips into a single movie file – something my supervisor subsequently showed me – I would have done that too. Something for next time!

Overall the remotely supervised DOFS was an excellent learning tool, and adds flexibility to our training program. I would suggest that a couple of directly observed DOFS would be best early in training so that you get immediate feedback and support, but after that I would encourage you to try this under-utilised approach to learning.

A message from your President

Welcome to the first AFOEM eBulletin for 2018. I wish all Fellows and trainees a rewarding and productive year. I hope that you had time for some rest and relaxation over the Christmas period and you are progressing well with your New Year’s resolutions!

The AFOEM nomination process for positions on Council has concluded and I am delighted to advise you that Professor Malcolm Sim will be the next AFOEM President-Elect from May 2018. The Councillors will be Dr Helen McArdle for Tasmania, Dr Alexandra Muthu for New Zealand, Dr David Fitzgerald for ACT, Dr Dominic Yong for Victoria and Dr Josh Munn for SA. Dr Beata Byok, as the incoming President in May, will therefore lead a really outstanding team and the Faculty will be in excellent hands. 

Nominations were not received, prior to the deadline, for AFOEM Council representatives for NSW, Queensland, WA and a training Registrar. Therefore, these positions will proceed to an expression of interest process. This is an excellent opportunity to join Council and I encourage you to nominate when the process opens soon.

A new clinical practice guideline, of particular importance to occupational physicians, has been prepared by the Department of General Practice at Monash University. The draft ‘Clinical Practice Guideline for the diagnosis and management of work-related mental health conditions in general practice’ has been released.  AFOEM will lead a College submission to provide feedback on this important work. Please see the article later in the eBulletin for further information and the link to the guideline.

I extend sincere thanks to Dr David Gras, who has represented AFOEM and RACP on the guideline development group, which has been active for the past 18 months. The intent of the project is to have a robust set of useful, evidence-based practical clinical guidelines endorsed by the RACGP and NHMRC. An important feature of the guideline development is that it addresses the common psychiatric illnesses and disorders which can be work-related, or impact on work, including anxiety and depression, PTSD and substance use disorders. 

I also draw your attention to some useful resources available on the Heads up website for the development of workplace mental health policies and strategies. 

On 15 December 2017, I attended the first meeting of the RACP Board Working Party to review the “Report on the Future of the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine” (AFPHM). The Board received the report at its August meeting and established the working party, as the issues raised by the AFPHM may have implications more broadly across the College. It is important that AFOEM contributes to the working party as the findings and recommendations will have implications for our Faculty.  My thanks to Dr Helen McArdle for representing AFOEM in the preparation of the AFPHM report.

Thank you to Dr Csongor Oltvolgyi for his article in this ​eBulletin about an innovative way to complete a remote Directly Observed Field Skills (DOFS) assessment. It is an interesting story with broad applicability to other trainees and in other settings.

The International Occupational Medicine Society Collaborative (IOMSC) has developed an advocacy toolkit “Advocating for occupational and environmental medicine – A toolkit for occupational medicine societies.”  Congratulations and thanks to Mr Nick Pahl, the CEO of the Society of Occupational Medicine, who lead the development of the toolkit, which can be accessed on the website. It will also be presented at the ICOH 2018 meeting in April in Dublin, Ireland.

A significant contingent of Fellows will be travelling to Dublin for the ICOH 2018 Congress. There will be a number of activities in Dublin to promote the ICOH 2021 Congress in Melbourne. If you would like to be involved with these activities in Dublin, then please contact Dino Pisaniello, the ICOH National Secretary for Australia. The Australian National Organising Committee has been meeting since August 2017 and we are making good progress, including selection of the Professional Conference Organiser.

Those of you who may be interested in visiting Brazil, the next meeting of the IOMSC Executive will be held at the Pan American Occupational Health Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in September 2018. Further information about this conference will be available on the conference website

On behalf of the Faculty I extend a warm welcome to Victoria Patterson, who has recently commenced as the AFOEM Executive Officer. Victoria is covering for Rumbi, while she is on a career break. Victoria is an experienced project manager and coordinator with a wealth of experience in the healthcare sector. Victoria has already been making a great contribution to the operation of the Faculty and I trust that all Fellows and trainees will make her welcome.  My sincere thanks to Wynne Bell, Manager Faculties, for her excellent hard work in the Faculty prior to Victoria’s arrival.       

With best wishes,

Associate Professor Peter Connaughton
President, AFOEM

The call for nominations for College positions – results announced 

The recent call for nominations for the next RACP President-Elect, Directors on the College Board, and various positions on Division and Faculty Councils and the New Zealand and Chapter Committees closed on Friday, 2 February 2018.

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Public consultation now open: Draft ‘Clinical Practice Guideline for the diagnosis and management of work-related mental health conditions in general practice’ 

The Department of General Practice, Monash University has prepared a draft guideline on the diagnosis and management of work-related mental health conditions. The guideline aims to provide general practitioners with the best available evidence that they need to assist them in the diagnosis and management of work-related mental health conditions in their patients. Once finalised, this guideline will be proposed for submission to the NHMRC for approval under section 14A of the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992.

Monash University is inviting submissions on the draft guideline, draft technical report and draft implementation plan by 15 March 2018. To contribute your views to this consultation in your individual capacity, please visit the website.  

You can also contribute your input to the submission AFOEM is currently developing by getting in touch with the College’s Policy & Advocacy Unit on by Friday, 16 February 2018.

Dr David Gras, who has represented AFOEM and the RACP on the guideline development group for the last 18 months, has kindly provided further information about the inception of the project and the work that has been undertaken thus far to develop the draft guidelines. 

​The RACP’s 2018​-19 Pre-Budget Submission

The RACP has released its Australian Government 2018-19 Pre-Budget Submission, which highlights key areas where specialists believe new initiatives or sustained investment are needed. Our priority areas include child health, end-of-life care, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, obesity prevention and treatment, and a greater investment in telehealth and drug and alcohol services.
Read more about our recommendations in the submission on the website.  

Regional training meetings in New South Wales (NSW)

Regional training meetings are held every second month in NSW. Trainees are required to attend a minimum of three regional training meetings and must present at least once per training period as part of their training requirements. 

The details of the 2018 regional training meetings are as follows:

RACP Education Centre
Level 8, 52 Phillip St

6pm to 8pm 
Monday, 5 February
Monday, 9 April
Monday, 4 June
Monday, 6 August
Monday, 8 October
Monday, 3 December
Hunter Industrial Medicine
Conference Room
U5/500 High St

6pm to 8pm
Thursday, 15 March
Thursday, 24 May
Thursday, 21 June (this date is tentative)
Thursday, 19 July
Thursday, 20 September
Thursday, 15 November

Each meeting will have a maximum of four trainee presentations. Fellows are welcome to attend. Please note that the location of the Sydney meetings is subject to change, so you are encouraged to check the RACP Events page before each meeting to confirm the details. 

More information on the Maitland meetings can be found on the Hunter Industrial Medicine website

Attendance via videoconference is available for these events. If you would like to attend via videoconference, please RSVP to a minimum of two weeks before the relevant meeting date. We are unable to accommodate requests to attend via videoconference made after this time.

AFOEM educational meeting – Monday, 19 February 2018


RACP, Level 2, 417 St Kilda Road, Melbourne or via video conferencing.
This meeting will discuss the BHP Mental Health Framework.


Dr Rob McDonald (BHP), Dr Gregor Schutz (Psychiatrist) and Dr Bruce Hocking (AFOEM).

Learning objectives

  • to be aware of international trends regarding mental health in workplaces 
  • to be aware of frameworks like that of BHP
  • to understand how the presence of such frameworks may be leveraged and influence how you manage mental illness of varying severity in employees.

Cost and other details

The cost is $50 for individuals attending in-person and free for those attending via video link. 
This in-person charge includes dinner, which is served from 6pm. The presentation will start at 7pm.

To attend in person, please complete the registration form and email it to by 12pm Thursday, 15 February 2018.

For more details please contact RACP Executive Officer, Pavitra Gurumurthi on +61 3 9927 7720 or by emailing

Faculty 2018 examination dates available online

The Faculty 2018 examination dates are now available on the College website.  Candidates will be advised when exam application forms are available on the website.  This will be prior to registrations opening in 2018.  For more information contact the Examinations Unit at or phone 1300 MY RACP (1300 697 227) or +61 2 9256 5444.

RACP Congress 2018 – early bird closing 18 February

The AFOEM Annual Scientific Meeting, RACP Congress 2018, will take place at the International Convention Centre, Sydney, from 14 ​to 16 May 2018.

Early bird registrations close Sunday, 18 February 2018.

On Tuesday morning join us for a follow-up on the popular 2017 session on medicinal cannabis. The 2018 session will cover the latest evidence, availability and implications for driving and fitness for work.

AFOEM plan its Annual Training Meeting (ATM) in conjunction with the RACP Congress. The ATM provides trainees with valuable experience and knowledge, and will be held across three days.

The AFOEM ATM will also host a dinner for attendees, as well as a dinner for AFOEM attendees of the RACP Congress. In 2018 the dinners will be combined for one fun-filled evening. You are still eligible to register to attend the dinner if you are not attending the ATM or Congress.

The dinner will take place on Sunday, 13 May 2018 from 6pm to 10pm at L’Aqua – Gold Room, Cockle Bay Wharf, Darling Harbour, tickets can be purchased during the registration process

For more information on the RACP Congress program and speakers visit the Congress website

Register before 18 February 2018 to receive the early bird rate.

Latest podcast released

Cannabis Therapy is the topic of discussion in the latest Pomegranate Health podcast. 

Read more

The countdown is on – only four weeks to go until IMS 2018

There are only four weeks to go until the International Medical Symposium (IMS) 2018, which ​is being held on Friday, 9 March 2018 at the Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney.

Registrations close soon so secure your place today for this unique event.
The IMS is an exciting opportunity for clinicians from around the world to come together and discuss the health and wellbeing of medical professionals and how this relates to providing quality care to our communities.
IMS 2018 ​is hosted by:

  • The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
  • Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists
  • The Royal Australasian College of Physicians
  • Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

The symposium program features keynote presentations from renowned international experts:

  • Dr Caroline Gerin-Lajoie (Canada) – Psychiatrist and Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Medicine.
  • Dr Kym Jenkins (Australia) – President of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
  • Dr Fiona Moir (New Zealand) – Medical Programme Directorate and Senior Lecturer at The Department of General Practice at The University of Auckland
  • Associate Professor Chanaka Wijeratne (Australia) – Senior Psychiatrist, Prince of Wales Hospital; and Adjunct Associate Professor, Sydney School of Medicine, University of Notre Dame Australia.

These speakers will explore and debate the current health and wellbeing landscape for doctors throughout their professional lifespan from undergraduate degree through to the end of a career.

To register, view the program or for more information, please visit the conference website.

New Evolve recommendations to improve rheumatology care

As part of the Evolve initiative, the Australian Rheumatology Association and the College have released a new series of recommendations to help avoid unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures carried out in rheumatology clinical practice. 

View the new recommendations on the Evolve website

Online supervisor courses – open for registration 

Registration is now open for the successful online Supervisor Professional Development Program (SPDP)

The online courses for supervisors are facilitated by RACP Fellows and can be completed in any order, over five weeks.

Read more

Professional Performance Framework update

The RACP supports the fundamental purpose of the Medical Board of Australia’s (MBA) recently released Professional Performance Framework. The Framework is the MBA’s response to the report of its Expert Advisory Group on revalidation. “Nothing is going to change tomorrow for individual doctors. We will be consulting widely and seeking expert advice on many elements of the framework,” MBA Chair, Dr Joanna Flynn said.

The RACP is currently reviewing the documentation to understand how it will impact Fellows and the College’s operational processes. 

Read more

Modern Workplace Challenges course

Registrations are now open for the Modern Workplace Challenges Qstream course, which begins on Monday, 5 March.

The course includes 10 case study questions, which each take five minutes to complete. Questions are sent by email and spaced two days apart. The total duration of the course will depend on your own pace.

Read more

Expressions of Interest

New South Wales Training Program Director on the Faculty Training Committee for Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

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

View all medical positions vacant

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. 

Dr Ray Fabius open lecture – "Building a Culture of Health: Integrating Health Protection and Health Promotion"

View all occupational and environmental health medicine events.

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):
Victoria Patterson, AFOEM Executive Officer
Phone: +61 2 8076 6351

AFOEM Education and Training enquiries:
Georgina Kempton, Education Officer
Phone: +61 2 8247 6268

AFOEM Examination enquiries:
Examination Coordinator, Assessment and Selection Unit

AFOEM training site accreditation inquiries:
Site Accreditation Unit

AFOEM CPD enquiries:

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