AFRM eBulletin – 19 November 2021

A Message from your President

Academic matters

It gives me great pleasure to announce that Professor Fary Khan will be joining the AFRM Council as our first academic representative councillor. Fary’s work rate and enthusiasm are legendary. She has combined clinical work, higher degree mentoring and supervision, with leadership in numerous national and international fora and has a prodigious research output. We are privileged to have her joining the Council to keep academic matters at the forefront of AFRM discussions, provide a link between the Faculty and the Rehabilitation Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand Annual Scientific Meeting (RMSANZ ASM) via her presence on the Scientific Committee and the RACP Congress planning committee. The proposed academic/research committee of Council is proceeding through the formal approval process, and we will soon call for expressions of interest from members.

Australasian Rehabilitation Outcomes Centre (AROC)

AROC is currently undergoing a strategic review. The new leadership team of Medical Director, Maria Crotty and Director, Ross Clifton along with Director of the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) Australian Health Services Research Institute (AHSRI) Kathy Eagar are intending to map a more ambitious strategic direction for AROC, hoping to place it firmly in the centre of health planning policy development making use of its large database of rehabilitation outcomes.

We continue to seek a replacement for the chair of the Medical Advisory Group. Expressions of interest have been sought to replace John Estell whose term has expired.

Rehabilitation Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand

The AFRM Executive continues to meet regularly with the president of RMSANZ Michael Chou. Many of you will have attended the recent virtual snapshots two-day meeting. The ASM has been postponed until 2022 on the Gold Coast. We are optimistic for a face-to-face format.

COVID-19 rehabilitation 

Dr Susan Graham continues to represent the Faculty on the RACP COVID-19 Expert Reference Group (ERG). A COVID-19 rehabilitation working group is being established as part of the Faculty Policy and Advocacy Committee. Some excellent resources have become produced by the New South Wales Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) Rehabilitation community of practice led by Professor Steven Faux. The latest of these is currently on the ROC (RACP Online Community) platform.

Rural training issues

Dr Jeremy Christley is the AFRM representative on the RACP Regional and Rural Physicians Working Group. I discussed with him the proposal brought to our August council meeting proposing mandating rural training. He agreed with the council consensus that mandating is not an option he would support. He suggested active promotion of rural training in the form of video, photographs and documentary support on the Faculty webpage. Identifying resources available to mitigate the disincentives which exist would also be useful.

ROC (RACP Online Communities) 

I hope you all noticed the recent launch of the AFRM Community on the ROC. Uptake so far has been slow, but I urge you to connect to it today and start to become familiar with it. You will find that downloading an app to your smart phone provides simpler access, but you can also find it on MyRACP. There is the AFRM community as well as the Open Forum, which all members have access to. We plan to set up specific subcommunities for branch activities and branch committees. You will see that there is a ‘library’ where documents can be posted to enable instantaneous sharing to others on the ROC. I've recently encouraged the posting of COVID-19 documents as a practical example of how this site can be used. Ultimately greater membership engagement is what we hope this will provide. We had lost much of the ease of communication between branch committees and their regional members in recent years. This provides a method to restore this and more. It does, however, need you to try it out – please do it today, and revisit often!

AFRM exams working group

Our most recent meeting of the exams working group followed the successful (postponed) module 2 exams in October in Melbourne. Planning is well underway for Faculty examinations for 2022 which will be held early in the year. As you may know there was a good deal of unhappiness among the trainee cohort who sat the Faculty Fellowship Clinical Examination (FCE) in 2021 with the pass rate considerably lower than the previous few years. It is without doubt that our candidates had the most difficult year imaginable in 2021, with curtailment or cessation of numerous training and exam preparation opportunities as well the changes in expectations and format for their exams right up until the day, along with anxiety that the exams may not even be held. This is not even mentioning the disrupted clinical work, many not even working in regular rehab medicine wards for significant periods. The College educational experts have met and presented evidence that the exam was not of a different standard to those held in recent years and that the performances of the candidates indicated that they were less well prepared than previous cohorts. There will be a formal independent College review carried out.

My concern is that the May 2022 FCE is only six months away and the disrupted preparation believed responsible for last year’s outcome is likely to still be a factor unless significant improvement in oral examination practice can be provided to the trainees. The branches are restricted by COVID-19 both in the day-to-day work of the trainees but also in their ability to organise group oral practice sessions. In this circumstance the practice needs to occur in the local training sites with local supervisors taking the lead. I urge regional training coordinators to make this a priority and to connect with the supervisors to urge them to take on this role with as much vigour as possible.

Succession planning

We continue to seek a Chair of the Fellowship Assessment Committee. Dr Michael Johnson has agreed to take on the role for a year, but we still need a longer-term candidate for this role. We are also seeking a President-elect to take office in May 2022 when Dr Jenny Mann becomes AFRM President. It is a reminder that turnover of senior positions is the lifeblood of our volunteer organisation. I urge all Fellows to please consider where you could assist, be that in the regional training roles, a branch committee, or the Faculty educational or policy development committees. We need every one of you who can contribute. 

Faculty work plan

We have made quite significant headway in several areas. The Curriculum Renewal Committee’s work is well underway. The Regional Training Coordinators have established a new regular meeting to improve training. Our marketing and profile raising has continued although somewhat stymied by COVID-19 at the moment. The research and academic portfolio area continues with the Council representative appointed and the committee establishment underway. The policy document on bariatric rehabilitation progresses well and the committee for COVID-19 rehabilitation is also being established. Other successes of note include the recognition of the diversity in Faculty committees. 

The process of dual and conjoint training continues to be a little opaque. I note that recently the President of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine has put forward a proposal that Faculty trainees should have the same opportunities in dual and conjoint training as that which applies to Divisional trainees. At the moment there is no method by which training can be done concurrently for Faculty trainees. 

Several meetings have been held with key external stakeholders responding to our promotional mail out. There have been specific sessions at the Annual Trainees’ Meeting addressing specialty practice and models of practice helping to prepare them better for life after being a trainee. We continue to receive useful workforce data from the College giving us an idea of the age, gender and distribution of Fellows and trainees in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. We also continue to be supportive of the College’s policy on training for cultural competence and cultural safety as outlined by the Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori Health Committees of the College.

Vale Dr David Bowers

The unexpected passing of our colleague Dr David Bowers in the full flight of his professional career in spinal injury rehabilitation at the Royal North Shore Hospital reminds us all that the work that many of us do from day-to-day is greatly appreciated by patients families and colleagues alike. It's only these sad occasions of unexpected passing that people through obituaries and tributes at funerals verbalise and pay tribute to the very great work that is done on a day-to-day basis acknowledging the positive lasting impact on the lives of many of our disabled patients and their families. 

I thank all Faculty committee members and volunteers in so many areas for continuing to donate so much of their valuable time to the work of the Faculty. It's been a very difficult time these last 18 months with the impact of COVID-19 on our workplaces, on Faculty activities, not to mention the personal effect on many of us. My thanks especially go to the members of the executive – President-elect Dr Jenny Mann, past-President Professor Tim Geraghty, Chair of the Education Committee Dr Caitlin Anderson and Chair of the Aotearoa New Zealand branch Dr Richard Seeman, as well as our supportive staff members Jo Goldrick, Manager of Faculties and Phil Munro, Manager of Peak Bodies. It is with some sadness I report the resignation of Jane Henderson our previous Executive Officer. I will miss her enthusiasm greatly and would like to publicly record my thanks to her.

Dr Greg Bowring
AFRM President

2022 Faculty exams

The 2022 examination dates are now available on our website. The date is subject to change due to the impacts of COVID-19.

The Faculty Assessment Committee and College staff are working on contingency planning for all Faculty exams. We know that COVID-19 is impacting regions differently and that this will continue to evolve between now and the scheduled exams. We are monitoring COVID-19 in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand carefully, and we are preparing multiple contingencies to try and provide candidates with the best options possible.

AFRM Fellowship Written Examination applications open next week

Applications for the AFRM Fellowship Written Examination will be open from Monday, 22 November 2021 to 5pm AEDT on Friday, 3 December 2021.

Further information can be found via the AFRM Fellowship Written Examination (General) webpage.

AFRM Module 2 Clinical Assessment

Congratulations to all trainees who sat the Module 2 Clinical Assessment in Melbourne on Sunday, 10 October 2021. We salute you for your efforts and look forward to the results.

Dr David Michael Bowers MB BS, DRACOG, FAFRM (RACP)

12 October 1960 – 04 July 2021

A life cut too short.

Dr David Bowers was an extraordinarily talented physician in the field of rehabilitation medicine, yet with such great humility that he was possibly not given enough recognition.

It has been a privilege to have shared some of the journey with David working as a fellow spinal physician at the Royal North Shore Hospital.

David attended St Pius X College, excelling in the Higher School Certificate in 1978 including being in the top 20 in 4 Unit Science and 3 Unit Maths, and sailed into medicine at the University of Sydney graduating in 1983.

He obtained a Diploma in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (DRACOG) from the Royal Australasian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1987 and then passed the First Part Examination of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) in 1988 whilst a Clinical Fellow in Sports Medicine at the Institute of Sports Medicine, Lewisham.

He then commenced his training in orthopaedics as an orthopaedic registrar at Ryde Hospital in 1989 and Prince of Wales Hospital (POWH) in 1990.

He then discovered an allergy to latex (I believe) which cut short his surgical career, however he made the obvious and wise shift to rehabilitation medicine where his skills in physical examination and surgical decision making could be put to the best use.

He was the spinal injuries and rehabilitation registrar at POWH, Royal South Sydney Hospital and St George Hospital from 1991 to 1993 working under Professor Richard Jones amongst other revered colleagues.

His first specialist appointment was as Staff Specialist Rehabilitation Physician at Albury Base and Wodonga District Hospitals. He then moved over to the northern side joining the spinal specialist staff at the Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH) at the end of 1995, where he continued until his untimely death.

I recall what I remember as the golden days in the RNSH Spinal Unit in the late 1990s and early 2000s caring for patients who have suffered life changing spinal cord injury. This role carried with it great responsibility that we accepted with the role for the greater good of our patients. It was always of great help to debrief with colleagues – "do you know what I mean" – and I mostly did know what David meant.

David was an excellent teacher of the art of physical examination as I am sure a generation of rehab physicians will attest. These skills were very valuable in his appointments to the Motor Accidents Authority as a Medical Appeals Panel Member and Approved Medical Specialist (Disputes) from 2001.

The spinal unit was the source of his life partner, Tereza, they made a very 'handsome' couple and produced two wonderful children. David was immensely proud of Georgia and Luke and it was great to hear of their progress through school to university.

David was always very supportive of the wider spinal community – he showed his support in such things as going to Ferguson Lodge, the ParaQuad's residential facility at Lidcombe, for Christmas dinner to spend time with the devoted staff and the residents.

David took on the Head of Department (Spinal Cord Injury Unit) for a while around 2008 and steered the plans for the new hospital development keeping the needs of the spinal patients high on the agenda.

His concern for the threat to the normal rehabilitation process by the multi-resistant superbugs energised David recently to join the Board of Recce Pharmaceuticals as Chair of the Clinical Advisory Committee.

It is always a constant heavy responsibility as a senior doctor with the patient's case in your hands and I don't know how David managed to balance that with life generally – except I imagine skiing was a great escape!

I miss you David – thank you for being in my life!

Dr Sue Rutkowski


RACP Congress 2022 launches

RACP Congress 2022, A Climate for Change, will be taking place both in-person and virtually, in Melbourne and Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland from 12 to 14 May 2022.

This three-day event will feature a range of speakers, panel discussions and workshops exploring the factors that are driving a growing desire for change and what can be done to bring about positive, lasting change. Australasia’s premiere specialist event should not be missed.

Visit the RACP Congress website to explore the program and register to attend. Book before the end of December to secure your early bird pricing.

RACP Indigenous Health Scholarships

The Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine is proud to offer the 2022 Indigenous Australian and Māori Health Scholarship for Rehabilitation Medicine as part of the RACP Indigenous Health Scholarship Program.

The Program aims to support those medical graduates and current trainees of the RACP who identify as Aboriginal, Torres Strait islander or Māori on their chosen career path to becoming a physician. The scholarships provide a funded pathway through Basic, Advanced, Faculty or Chapter training in Australia and/or Aotearoa New Zealand.

Several scholarships are available for 2021, including:

  • College Indigenous Australian and Māori Health Scholarship
  • Indigenous Australian and Māori Health Scholarship for Paediatrics & Child Health
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Scholarship
  • Aotearoa New Zealand Māori Health Scholarship
  • Aotearoa New Zealand Pacific Islander Health Scholarship.

Applications close Tuesday, 30 November 2021. Further details on these scholarships are available on the RACP Foundation webpages.

RACP President's Indigenous Congress Prize

The RACP President's Indigenous Congress Prize is open to medical students, junior medical officers and RACP trainees who identify as Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or Māori. The selected applicant will receive support to attend the 2022 RACP Congress to gain educational and networking opportunities and exposure to career pathways within the College. 

Please encourage anyone you know who is eligible to apply before the deadline on Monday, 31 January 2022. Visit the RACP website for further details.

Dr Boris Mak Rehabilitation Medicine Trainee Award for Best Presentation

Open to Aotearoa New Zealand (AoNZ) residents only, this is awarded to the best presentation by an AoNZ AFRM trainee at the annual New Zealand Rehabilitation Medicine Symposium. Awards of up to NZ$1,000 are offered. 

Visit the website for further details.

Rehab in Review journal

Rehab in Review is a surveillance journal whose editors scan 70 rehabilitation related journals for the best, most current literature important to the practice of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Rehab in Review is produced by physicians specialising in physical medicine and rehabilitation, with the cooperation and assistance of Emory University School of Medicine (Georgia, USA), Department of Rehabilitation Medicine.

The Editors of this publication generously provide this publication to the Faculty and all its members at no cost.

View the Rehab in Review October 2021 edition.

Bi National Training Program (BNTP) – 2021 Timetable

The Bi National Training Program (BNTP) lectures will proceed – attendance in person is no longer available but trainees can continue to join via teleconference/videoconference.

If trainees cannot join the live teleconference/videoconference, a recording of the session is uploaded to the event listings webpage to watch at a convenient time.

Please visit the event listings webpage for further details of the lecture.

Date Time Topic
Wednesday, 24 November 2021 3pm to 5pm AEDT Lower Limb Amputation

NeuroRehabilitation Anatomy and Ultrasound Workshops

Applications are open to attend a one and a half day Anatomy and Ultrasound Workshop on the in Sunshine Coast 2022.


  • 11 to 12 March 2022
  • 13 to 14 May 2022
  • 15 to 16 July 2022
  • 11 to 12 August 2022
  • 9 to10 September 2022

The main objective of the workshop is to learn advanced ultrasound skills to identify anatomical structures to perform safe and effective intramuscular injections of botulinum toxin to treat upper and lower limb spasticity. The workshops will be restricted to a maximum of four participants to enable a detailed and first-hand learning experience.

The cost is $880 including GST per person.

For more information, visit the Neurorehabilitation website or contact

Become a mentor

We’re excited to announce Mentor Match is open via the ROC (RACP Online Community). Mentoring is a mutually beneficial relationship between two people with the goal of professional and personal development.

We invite you share your knowledge, expertise and advice with other members by registering as a mentor. Watch this short video to see how easy it is to participate.

Once we have 100 registered mentors, we’ll invite members to register as mentees.

Selection into training assessment pilot: What are the attributes of a good physician?

Selection into Basic Training can be highly competitive. We are collaborating with five paediatric and child health training networks and an external test provider to pilot whether a pre-interview assessment tool can help to ensure the most suited applicants proceed in the selection process for Basic Training. 

The pilot will trial the use of an online test called 'Casper', a test to measure a candidate's ability to reflect on and communicate responses to interpersonal and professional dilemmas, in-line with the attributes outlined in the RACP selection criteria and professional practice framework. 

We are seeking input from a broad range of people who interact with physicians and paediatricians on the types of behaviours that represent good professional practice from physician and paediatrician trainees. Although the settings involved in the pilot are all within paediatric and child health training networks the outcomes of the pilot will be evaluated to determine if the tool is fit for purpose for use in the RACP context more broadly, including in adult internal medicine and Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Therefore, we are also seeking input from members involved in Adult Medicine Training Programs. 

Complete this short survey to have your say on the types of behaviours that represent high-quality professional practice by physicians and paediatricians. This short video will guide you through what to expect from the survey. Responses are anonymous and are open until mid-December 2021. 

Share the survey with your physician and non-physician colleagues and patients to help us gain perspectives from a broad range of people in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Your insights will be used to align the test with the context and performance expectations for RACP Basic Trainees. 

The pilot will be run with applicants for Basic Training at participating pilot settings in mid-2022. More information is available on the RACP website.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care’s Launch of the national standard for acute anaphylaxis

For member information, The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) is launching the first national Acute Anaphylaxis Clinical Care Standard.

Date: Wednesday, 24 November, 1pm to 2pm AEDT
Format: Webcast event and panel discussion

The host, Associate Professor Amanda Walker, and a panel of experts will discuss key areas for improvement addressed by the standard including prompt recognition of anaphylaxis, appropriate treatment and safe discharge and follow-up care.

Full details and how to register can be found on their website

Pomegranate Health Podcast

Episode 75: Feeling Guilty – Medical Injury Part 2 

In the last episode we talked about what patients or their families want to hear after a iatrogenic injury. Despite best practice standards for open disclosure, this occurs far less often than it should. The reluctance from health practitioners to be more transparent is in part due to a misplaced fear of exposure to liability, but perhaps the greatest barrier to incident disclosure is culture of medicine itself. The historic tropes of the infallible physician and the heroic surgeon are still strong today. Though team-based practice has become the norm, many doctors find it hard to admit to a mistake, not just to patients and colleagues but even to themselves. This podcast explores the guilt that can come about from having caused harm, and the cognitive dissonance this creates in one’s professional identity as a healer. 


  • Associate Professor Stuart Lane FCICM (Nepean Hospital; FMH lead for Education, University of Sydney)
  • Professor Simon Willcock FRACGP (Program Head of Primary Care and Wellbeing at Macquarie University; Clinical Program Head of Primary and Generalist Care, Wellbeing and Diagnostics at MQ Health)


Written and produced by Mic Cavazzini DPhil. Music licenced from Epidemic Sound includes ‘Far Away from Home’ by John Glossner, ‘Illusory Motion’ by Gavin Luke, ‘Heart of the River of the Sun’ by Lama House and ‘Struck By You’ by Seroa. Music courtesy of Free Music Archive includes ‘Harbor’ by Kai Engel. Image licensed from Getty Images. Additional voiceovers by Michael Pooley.

Visit the RACP website for a transcript and supporting references. Fellows of the College can claim CPD credits for listening to the podcast and reading supporting resources. 

Subscribe to email alerts or search for ‘Pomegranate Health’ in Apple PodcastsSpotifyCastbox or any podcasting app. Fellows of the RACP can claim CPD credits for listening and learning via MyCPD.

Join the Working Group: Providing Healthcare to Patients with Cognitive Disability 

Expressions of interest are being sought from RACP members and subject matter experts to join a working group to develop a new online learning resource on providing healthcare to patients with cognitive disability. The resource is being developed in response to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. It will address recommendations to improve the education and training of health professionals in relation to people with cognitive disability.

Find out more and apply by Monday, 22 November 2021.

Doctors' Health and Wellbeing Curated Collection

Doctors' health refers to the overall mental, physical and social wellbeing which enables you to practise effectively, as well as to enjoy your personal life outside of work. Check out the recently updated Doctors' Health and Wellbeing Curated Collection for the most relevant resources, readings, courses, videos and tools on this important topic. The Collection is thematically structured, so you can search and filter for the resources that suit your needs. 

Curated Collections are developed based on the contributions and peer review of RACP Fellows and other experts. Don’t forget to claim CPD credits for time spent on online learning resources.

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.

Trainee 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.

Bi-National Training Program (BNTP)

NSW Lecture Series

Rehabilitation Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand (RMSANZ)

RMSANZ is the professional body for rehabilitation physicians and trainees in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Australasian Rehabilitation Outcomes Centre

The Australasian Rehabilitation Outcomes Centre (AROC) is the national rehabilitation medicine clinical registry of Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

AFRM contact details 

Member enquiries
Phone: (AUS) 1300 69 7227
Phone: (NZ) 0508 69 7227

AFRM Faculty enquiries (including Council and committees):
Executive Officer
Phone: +61 2 8076 6315

AFRM Aotearoa New Zealand Committee:
Executive Officer DFACs AoNZ
Phone: +64 4 460 8142
AFRM Education and Training enquiries:
Education Officer
Phone: +61 2 82476237

AFRM oral examination enquiries:
Examination Coordinator 
Phone: +61 2 92569673

AFRM training site accreditation enquiries:
Education Officer
Phone: +61 8247 6233

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