AFRM eBulletin – 3 May 2019

AFRM Research Entry Scholarship – exercise and pulmonary hypertension

I am first, and foremost, a clinician (actually, I am first and foremost full of wanderlust, an avid ocean swimmer and sort-of triathlete if only my cycling wasn’t so pathetic…. but for the purposes of this article, a clinician). If you had told me 10 years ago I would be doing a PhD, I would have laughed at you. Politely of course but laughed nonetheless. I have never met anyone less likely. So how do I find myself, in my early (depends on how you define early) 40’s, with a host of family and other commitments, nearly two thirds of the way through a PhD? 

It all started with doing what I was trained to do. I was asked to join a team of colleagues made up of cardiologists, rheumatologists and respiratory physicians (in the NSW country town where I was living at the time) to treat patients with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH). I knew nothing about the condition. So, as I had been trained to do, I did a literature search about the condition, and the role of rehabilitation and exercise training in PAH. What I read staggered me – these patients had a larger increase in their six-minute walk test (one of the most widely used outcome measures in PAH) compared to that seen with novel expensive highly-publicised medications that also caused a host of side effects. However, it wasn’t clear if this was a training effect, or if exercise-based rehabilitation actually improved cardiac structure and function. Given the paucity of research in the area, I decided to find out. 

I approached Associate Professor Eugene Kotlyar (PAH cardiologist) and Associate Professor Steven Faux at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney to be my supervisors and began my PhD part-time in 2014. There were many obstacles (trying to obtain funding, ethics, logistics etc) but eventually we got off the ground and are continuing to recruit. 

As is often the case with research, the more research you do, the more questions crop up. Patients with PAH are often fearful of exercise. This may partly be due to the fact that historically, exercise was not recommended in this population due to safety concerns. I therefore developed a qualitative survey to try and understand how patients with pulmonary hypertension felt about exercise, and what exercise their treating physicians recommended. As it seems proportionally few rehabilitation medicine physicians are involved in cardiac rehabilitation, the survey also includes rehabilitation medicine physicians. From my perspective, rehabilitation medicine physicians have the ideal skill-set to holistically manage these patients who have a chronic debilitating, and often fatal disease.

As many of us have ‘survey fatigue’, I decided we needed to capture people ‘on the spot’ with a paper document for my survey. I therefore canvassed as many of our colleagues as I could at the recent Asia-Oceanian Conference of Physical & Rehabilitation Medicine (AOCPRM), ably assisted by Dr Senen Gonzalez (thank you, Senen) and also at the Pulmonary Hypertension Association of Australia & New Zealand’s Annual Scientific Meeting. If you are one of those we accosted, thank you for filling out the questionnaire.

In addition, using RedCap as an online research platform, we disseminated the survey widely with approximately 200 physician responses from around the world; 130 from Rehabilitation Medicine Physicians, and 70 from physicians who treat PAH (cardiologists, respiratory physicians and rheumatologists). If you haven’t yet completed the questionnaire, even if you think it’s not relevant to your field of practice, please do consider responding – it will take you less than two minutes.

None of my fledgling efforts at research would have been possible without the support of the AFRM/RACP – I am the grateful recipient of both the AFRM Research Development Award and the AFRM Research Entry Scholarship in years past. Thank you all for your support.

Dr Karen Chia
AFRM Fellow

A message from your President 

AFRM Council activities for 2019-2020 

Council has recently finalised its Work Plan for the next 12 months. The document outlines some of the activities that we hope to achieve during that time and I thought it would be helpful to give you some information about some of those plans. 

We will be working to increase communication and engagement with AFRM State Branches and the AFRM membership in general as well as with the Rehabilitation Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand (RMSANZ) and Australasian Rehabilitation Outcomes Centre (AROC). 

We will also be continuing our work in the areas of engagement, policy development and advocacy (in both existing and new areas) and looking for opportunities to engage more closely with government and the health and disability sectors and also within the RACP and with the other Faculties. 

Following on from the development of the AFRM Value Proposition and Narrative, we have developed an accompanying marketing and communications toolkit which will assist us in the process of raising the understanding and awareness of the value of rehabilitation medicine amongst a range of our stakeholders. We will be seeking your assistance with this later in the year. 

In the important area of education, it is likely that we will be commencing a review of the curriculum in the next 12 months and this is another area where we will be seeking the assistance of Special Interest Groups, State Branches and all members. 

Finally, we will be continuing to work to promote and enhance the importance of research in rehabilitation medicine including through mentorship, education and awareness raising.

There is a lot to be done and I hope that many of you will be able to be involved and provide your input and experience to these important activities. 

Professor Tim Geraghty 
President, AFRM

AFRM Annual Training Meeting – presentation slides

The AFRM Annual Training Meeting (ATM) presentation slides are now available on the Trainee Resources page

Please note some presentations were not uploaded due to consent of the speakers. The Faculty office is still awaiting the edits of the recordings of the sessions and will be made available soon.

We encourage you to share this information with your peers.

RACP’s 2019 Australian Government Election Statement 

The RACP’s 2019 Australian Government Election Statement outlines our priority policy areas across the key themes of sustainability, equity and prevention, and spells out recommendations for future-proofing the Australian healthcare system. 

A suite of materials has been prepared to support Australian member advocacy around our election statement and is accessible from the RACP election campaign page. These include letter templates to be used to write to Members of Parliament or to your local newspaper, social media champion kits, and fact sheets on key priorities. 

Please feel free to use these materials to make your voices heard right up to and including 18 May, and to share your experiences with us, whether via social media or by emailing

Tips for the upcoming Fellowship Written Examination

If you’re preparing for the AFRM Fellowship Written Examination on Tuesday, 28 May, don’t forget to check out the tips for the modified essay questions (MEQ) paper to help you in the lead up to exam day.

The RACP exams page also has a number of resources including sample MEQs and answers, sample MCQs as well as the Instructions to candidates.

If you need any assistance in the lead up to your exam, contact the Training Support Unit at We know that the examination can be a challenging prospect. The RACP Support Program is available to any trainee who might benefit from some coaching, counselling and support in the lead up to the exam.

Consultation on RACP revised conflicts of interest policy 

The College is currently undertaking a consultation on its revised Conflict of Interest Policy, which contains significant new revisions and additions. The deadline for feedback is 13 May 2019. If you are interested in providing your feedback to this consultation, please contact

eLearning Module – Cultural Competence

The College has developed a module titled Australian Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori Cultural Competence which is available to all members (login required) via This is a useful module for those wanting a deeper understanding on traditional Australian and New Zealand cultural practices. The module can be completed in your own time and will enhance your clinical practice, particularly when working with Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori communities.

Pomegranate Health Podcast: Medical fitness to drive

Are you a physician concerned about a patient's fitness to drive?

Our latest Pomegranate Health Podcast speaks to a GP, a neurologist and an occupational therapist about how to confront patients about reducing or ceasing driving, and where responsibilities lie in reporting to the Driver Licencing Authority.

AFRM Expressions of Interest – Regional Committees

Expressions of Interest are being sought for several opportunities within AFRM Regional Committees.

The AFRM Regional Committee has been established to:

  • advise the Faculty Council on matters relevant to the Faculty in their region
  • promote rehabilitation medicine in their region
  • respond to new and emerging rehabilitation medicine issues relevant to the Faculty as they arise provided the issue is approved by the Faculty President or Faculty Council prior to work commencing
  • work with other relevant College bodies and staff in relation to training and continual professional development and contributing to policy and advocacy matters
  • the activities of the Committee must be consistent with the College’s Strategic Directions document or any successor document.

For further information please visit:

Register to participate in the new ethics eLearning resource

Ethics lies at the very heart of what it is to be a physician and is as relevant now as it was when first discussed two and a half thousand years ago. The ethics eLearning resource focuses on the sorts of ethical issues that are a constant feature of healthcare, and it also addresses some of the ideas that underpin ethics, such as the relationship between ethics and the law and the difference between ethics and rights.

The aims of this resource are to:

  • encourage discussion and broaden thinking about the main ethical issues facing physicians
  • encourage reflection on appropriate courses of action in situations that may be ethically challenging
  • challenge participants’ understanding of, and attitudes towards, ethics
  • model ethical practice
  • and help participants reflect on their own and their profession’s ethical commitments.

eLearning@RACP is free for RACP members and counts towards Continuing Professional Development requirements.

If you have questions about eLearning@RACP please email

Get the latest electrical devices with member advantage in Australia

The Good Guys Commercial are your answer to accessing the latest and the best in smart devices, toasters and barista-style coffee machines for your home and much more, right at your fingertips.

Member Advantage has taken out the guesswork and made it easy for you to access these time-saving offers, all in one place.
Through your benefits program, get member-exclusive pricing on over 4,000 products with 24/7 online shopping and flexible delivery options*.

To find out more, visit your RACP Member Advantage website or call 1300 853 352.

*Terms and conditions apply. 

Read RACP Quarterly online

Articles in the March/April 2019 edition include:

  • Blood stem cell therapy brings hope to people living with Multiple Sclerosis
  • Massive funding injection giving hope to people with Parkinson’s
  • Physician burnout – a crisis in healthcare
  • Innovative approach aiming to reduce obesity in Māori communities 

International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine – 2019 registration 

The International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (ISPRM) serves as the global agency for physical and rehabilitation medicine (PRM). ISPRM aims to 'continuously improve PRM practice and facilitate PRM input in international health organisations with the goal to contribute to optimal functioning and quality of life of people experiencing disability'. 

In order to receive the benefits of your 2019 membership and to access the members’ area of the ISPRM website use code: AFRM19#2 

The same code can be used to register for the congress when asked for ‘membership number'. 

The ISPRM members’ area on the website is currently under construction, however you can still register for the congress

Due to the transition process with ISPRM Central Office, all AFRM members will have to register anew. Old passwords and usernames won’t work to renew membership.

Should you have any issues registering please contact ISPRM directly via

Free breakfast special offer for RACP members with Millennium Hotels

Be it corporate travel to Auckland, a conference or event in Wellington, a unique cultural experience in Rotorua, a romantic winter getaway in Queenstown or a well-deserved family holiday in the sparkling Bay of Islands, there is a Millennium, Copthorne or Kingsgate hotel to suit your travel need. With staff that are committed to providing a high standard of service and value, you’ll always enjoy a stay at a Millennium Hotels and Resort New Zealand hotel.

To warm you up this winter, take advantage of Millennium’s tasty deal exclusively for RACP members – get free breakfast each morning of stay per guest when booking along with 20 per cent off The Flexible Rate*. 

As they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and whether you’re a muesli fan or a toast and marmite person, we’ve got you covered. 

To find your special promotion code, visit your RACP Member Advantage website or call 1300 853 352 or +64 800 453 244 for more information.

*Available at 13 hotels across New Zealand and valid for bookings made between 8 April 2019 and 31 May 2019 for stays between 8 of April 2019 and 30 September 2019. Offer is subject to availability. T&C’s apply.

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 – Wednesday and Saturday sessions

Rehabilitation Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand (RMSANZ)

RMSANZ is the professional body for Rehabilitation Physicians and Trainees in Australia & New Zealand.

AFRM contact details 

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

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

AFRM NZ Committee
Lauren Darrah, Executive Officer DFAC’s NZ
AFRM Education and Training enquiries:
Name: Lia Iliou, Education Officer
Phone: +61 2 8076 6350

AFRM Examination enquiries:
Examination Coordinator 

AFRM training site accreditation enquiries:
Name: Sonia Tao, Education Officer
Phone: +61 8247 6233
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