AFRM eBulletin – April 2018

Mind Special Interest Group 

This year marks the ten-year anniversary of the Mind Special Interest Group (SIG). It’s been fascinating to follow the emerging literature for mindfulness over the last decade. Last year even saw the launch of the mindfulness journal. One of the biggest challenges for the medical community in searching the scientific literature is terminology, and there is an ongoing call for consensus. If taking a look on behalf of your patients, it’s worth including synonyms such as ‘meditation’ ‘MBSR’ ‘mindfulness based stress reduction’ and ‘body scan’ in your searches, and then delving deeper to determine exactly how the intervention is defined. And whilst noting there are many excellent randomised controlled trials (RCTs), there still isn’t meta-analysis, as outlined very succinctly recently by The Washington Post.

Closer to home, this year the Mind SIG are combining our four teleconferences with education sessions. Our March session focused on ‘Mindfulness – The Theory and Practice’ and upcoming topics include ‘Norman Doidge Retrospective’ and ‘Brain Gut Connection’. We are being joined for these sessions by members of the Rural and Remote SIG, and all rehabilitation physicians with an interest are welcome to telephone in. Please contact AFRM Executive Officer: Anastasia Barabash ( at the Faculty to add your name to our email list.

I attended the ‘Music and Mind’ conference run by the Hunter Medical Research Institute in Newcastle a few weeks ago which proved a fascinating insight into the established and emerging evidence for music, neuroplasticity and rehabilitation. Physician and trainee wellness remains an urgent priority and in April the Mind SIG are running a one-hour yoga session at the Trainee Meeting which will focus on strategies for managing anticipatory anxiety and exam relaxation techniques. It’s first thing on the Sunday morning and will aim to see you feeling more rested than spending an extra hour in bed, so please come along. Absolute beginners to frequent yoga practioners are all are very welcome.

Dr Jane Malone
Chair, Mind Special Interest Group

A message from your President

A very astute man, Richard Whately, once observed in five words that ‘Honesty is the best policy.’

I first heard this advice quite early in life, as my father was applying his hand of correction to my seat of learning, along with advice to the effect that if I did not tell lies to him or anyone else, I would never have to reconstruct memories, as my recollection of events and conversations would always be consistent and truthful. Great advice, which has stood me in good stead all my life since! As my father was a Dublin Irishman, it was perhaps understandable that he would quote Whately, a brilliant but somewhat eccentric 19th century logician, economist and Oxford don, who later became Archbishop of Dublin. Whately helped commence reform of the learning curriculum for the entire Irish school system, a task only finally completed long after his death.

Many years later, I discovered that these five words were only half of Whately’s saying; the full quote is ‘Honesty is the best policy, but he who is governed by that maxim is not an honest man.’ That is, the person who consciously needs to make honesty as explicit policy for life does not have an underlying honest nature. This is well worth thinking about, next time we hear a politician or anybody else for that matter, say those five short words.

As an educational reformer, Whately believed passionately in the importance of curiosity in helping people learn – another of his sayings is ‘Curiosity is as much the parent of attention, as attention is of memory.’ That is, a person who is curious about something naturally has their attention focused upon that question, and learning will follow. Observing my grandchildren, like Jean Piaget, I see this from earliest infant and school days. This continues into the complex learning present in university and post-graduate registrar years. There is little attention at any time without curiosity, because as Whately says, there is poor learning without the focused attention that curiosity brings, and that focussed attention then assures the memory of what we have learned. 

All this explains why trying to learn blocks of facts is such an unrewarding and boring task, unless we are curious as to why and how all that information can be linked together in our own understanding. Put another way, which do we think is the better learning method in relation to a given clinical topic: to try and remember about strokes by trying to memorise Chapter 370 of Harrison’s Textbook of Internal Medicine, isolated from a clinical context; or to remember our experiences of seeing many different stroke patients, and being curious to link the clinical signs we observe, with what is seen in each person’s brain imaging, the therapists’ assessments of deficits, and the holistic plans for their rehabilitation? 

That second kind of learning leads naturally to building ‘mind-maps’, which we construct from our clinical experiences. We construct our individual learning curriculum in rehabilitation, from our registrar years onwards, in taking our individual journey of curiosity and discovery throughout our whole professional lives. Each of our life learning journeys is unique, because of the different patients we see, the teaching we receive, and the reading and reflection we do, but it all builds to a body of competence that can be assessed, both by others and ourselves. 

From the start of our professional learning, it is important for us to explore and know the limits of our own knowledge, with support early on from our teachers and mentors. Apart from knowing enough to practice as a rehabilitation medicine specialist, the mark of professional maturity is that we are aware of the bounds of our knowledge, and avoid practice beyond our level of competence. 

Partial knowledge, without awareness of what else might be needed to balance an incomplete understanding of a situation, can be dangerously misleading, whether in relation to clinical medical diagnosis and care of a patient’s illnesses, or knowing how to balance competing imperatives from different family members in relation to planning for a patient’s care after discharge from hospital. 

One more quotation from Whately drives this home: ‘He that is not aware of his ignorance, will be only misled by his knowledge.’  

Associate Professor Andrew Cole
President, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine

RACP Congress 2018 – ​five weeks to go

RACP Congress 2018 will take place at the International Convention Centre, Sydney, from 14 to 16 May 2018. With only five weeks to go make sure you register now for the pre-eminent event for all physicians in Australia and New Zealand.

The RACP Congress program will pose challenges, share the latest clinical and research updates and encourage delegates to think differently with such sessions as the AFRM George Burniston Oration will be presented by Associate Professor Michael Pollack, Senior Staff Specialist in Rehabilitation Medicine at John Hunter Hospital. Professor Pollack will present on the shifting definitions of health and illness and the role of rehabilitation.

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

Program available for 2018 Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine Annual Training Meeting – Much more than an educational meeting

The full program is now available for the 2018 Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine (AFRM) Annual Training Meeting (ATM) being held on Saturday, 21 to Sunday, 22 April 2018 at the RACP Office, Sydney. 

We look forward to seeing you there, register at If you have any questions regarding the ATM, please contact

AFRM Value Proposition and Faculty Narrative document

Following the roll out of the ​RACP value proposition: Specialists. Together – Educate, Advocate, Innovate in 2016, the College has now embarked on the next stage of the project and is developing value propositions and narrative statements for the Divisions, Faculties and Chapters of the ​RACP.

We are seeking your feedback on the draft AFRM Value Proposition and Faculty Narrative Document

The purpose of this document is to explain, in plain language, rehabilitation medicine and its value to a layperson. The document is a tool for members to use in part to promote the work of rehabilitation medicine physicians. It outlines the practice of the Faculty in the key areas of education, advocacy and innovation within the context of the ​RACP's work. 

The draft document brings together the output from an AFRM Council workshop held in 2017, synthesising and condensing these concepts into narrative taglines, value proposition sentences and paragraphs. 

Please provide any feedback on the draft document to by COB Friday, 20 April 2018. 

AFRM Research Working Group update

Associate Professor Michael Pollack, Chair of the AFRM Research Working Group gives an update on the group’s progress. 

The AFRM Research Project aims to use data from the Australasian Rehabilitation Outcomes Centre (AROC) to help inform and support trainee research projects, and increase the quality of rehabilitation medicine research enabling an outcome that can be published or presented at national or international level conferences. 

Interested trainees can apply through expressions of interest to be part of the project, where they are individually matched to a research mentor whose interests and experience match the proposed research project. 

Currently the Working Group, is finalising the feedback questionnaires and beginning the process of distributing these to the first round of trainees and mentors; to obtain feedback on the AFRM Research Project. The Working Group has commenced planning for the next round of candidates with the assistance of AROC. 

A webpage on the AFRM RACP site is also in development. The page will contain the relevant information on the AFRM Research Project and application process. It is envisaged that the webpage and a one page information flyer will be launched in early May in time for the recruitment process. 

There will be an opportunity at the AFRM Annual Training Meeting which will be held on 21 and 22 April to expand on research techniques and knowledge with key presentations from Frances Simmonds on ‘Using AROC data for research’ and Professor Ian Cameron on ‘Research – how to get started’.

Prior to the webpage completion, for further information regarding the AFRM Research Project and application process please contact AFRM Executive Officer: Anastasia Barabash on

Associate Professor Michael Pollack
Chair, AFRM Research Working Group

$10,000 funding opportunity

Are you thinking of doing further training and getting more technical experience? Do you need funds to develop educational initiatives or present your research at a conference?

Applications are open for the RACP AFRM Education Development Grant for 2018, which supports advancement of rehabilitation medicine knowledge.

Applications close on Monday, 28 May 2018. Visit the RACP Foundation webpage for full details of other awards. For information about the eligibility criteria or application process, please contact the Foundation ​at or phone +61 2 9256 9639.

History of Medicine Session – RACP Congress

Do you have an interest in the early days of the College? Would you like to share your research?

An opportunity exists to speak at the RACP Congress, 2018 in the History of Medicine Session.

You are invited to submit a short abstract (200 words max) for consideration. We look forward to hearing from our historians.

We invite you to submit your abstracts to by Sunday, 22 April 2018.

Trainees' Day 2018 – reduced registration rate

RACP Trainees’ Day and Trainees' Dinner is an opportunity for Basic and Advanced Trainees to network and discuss professional critical topics and training pathways. 

We are pleased to advise that due to the generous contribution from our sponsors Trainees' Day registration rate is now AUD $50. 

We would like to thank our sponsors Westpac, Avant Mutual, Novartis, Professional Transcription Solutions and the NSW Government for making this reduced rate possible. 

Trainees who have already registered will be contacted and will receive a refund equivalent to the difference in the registration rates.

Register and view the program on the Congress website

Evolve posters at RACP Congress 

Evolve will be at RACP Congress to share and promote effective strategies that help implement the Evolve recommendations into everyday clinical practice. To stimulate ideas, discussions and action, there is an opportunity for you to showcase your work on Evolve to your colleagues. There will be no formal Congress selection process or presentation on these posters. If you are interested in being a part of this event, please contact and we’d be happy to support you in developing a poster for display.

Evolve resources
For the latest Evolve resources to help implement the recommendations in your daily work, visit  

Updated Physician Readiness for Expert Practice (PREP) Program Requirement Handbooks now available

The new PREP Program Requirements are now available on the relevant Basic Training and Advanced Training specialty web pages.

Basic Training
The 2019 Basic Training Program Requirements apply to all trainees registered in a PREP Basic Training program in 2019. Program requirements for 2020 will be released in line with the revised Basic Training Curricula.

Advanced Training
The 2019–20 Advanced Training Program Requirements are available on the new Advanced Training specialty web pages. The 2019–20 Requirements apply to all trainees registered in a PREP program in 2019 and/or 2020.

PREP trainees and their supervisors should familiarise themselves with the updated program requirements for their specialty. It is the responsibility of the trainee to ensure that they are following the correct guidelines for each training year.

New publication from the Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine (AFRM): Rehabilitation medicine physicians delivering integrated care in the community –  Early Supported Discharge programs in stroke rehabilitation: an example of integrated care

This discussion paper focuses specifically on rehabilitation medicine physicians and uses early supported discharge for stroke rehabilitation as a detailed example of the contribution they can make to the delivery of high quality integrated care in the community.

It contributes to the College’s priority stream of integrated care and will be used by the College and AFRM to advocate to both the Australian and New Zealand Governments regarding the importance of specialist physicians in delivering better integrated care for patients in the community.

Rehabilitation medicine physicians delivering integrated care in the community –  Early Supported Discharge programs in stroke rehabilitation: an example of integrated care is available via th​e RACP website and through the Faculty Policy & Advocacy webpage.

Interested in being featured in Women's Agenda?

Women’s Agenda is an online publication for career-minded women that’s looking to feature more women in medicine, and cover issues relevant to women pursuing careers in health. They regularly run Q&As and profiles on a wide range of different women. If you’re interested in potentially being featured, you can contact the Marketing and Communications team at You can check out the publication online:

Perth Children's Hospital cleared for opening

The State Government has confirmed WA's Chief Health Officer has given the all-clear for the hospital to open, following nearly three years of delays.

For full article please visit the abc website.

Japan lays groundwork for boom in robot carers 

Japanese government wants to increase acceptance of technology that could help fill the gap in the nursing workforce.

For full article please visit The Guardian's website.

New healthcare advice: Benzodiazepines will not help low back pain

Australians seeking relief from low back pain are being urged not to use benzodiazepines (minor tranquilisers) as part of their treatment, according to recommendations released by Choosing Wisely Australia.

Five new recommendations around pain management, including for low back pain and chronic non-cancer pain, have been developed by the Faculty of Pain Medicine of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists.

For full article please visit the Choosing Wisely website.

CPD credits registration date

Due to a technical issue with the MyCPD platform a small number of Fellows were unable to register their CPD credits before the due date – 31 March 2018.

Impacted Fellows have been individually contacted and have been given an extension until Monday, 9 April to complete their 2017 MyCPD record.

If you have any questions the CPD team can be contacted using the following details.
Australia -, +61 2 8247 6201
New Zealand -, +64 4 460 8122

AMA Public Health Awards 2018 – call for nominations 

The AMA is seeking nominations of people or groups who have made an extraordinary contribution to health care and public health. Recipients will be invited to attend the 2018 AMA National Conference in Canberra in May 2018, where the awards will be presented. In the year following the presentation of the awards, recipients will have the opportunity to participate in interviews with interested media, and engage in AMA supported activities promoting their work in their field of expertise. 

Nominations are sought in the following categories: 

  • AMA Excellence in Healthcare Award
  • AMA Woman in Medicine Award.

More information regarding the awards and the nomination process may be found on the AMA website. Nominations close COB Monday, 23 ​April 2018.

AFRM ​training resources

Bi-National Training Program (BNTP) 

The AFRM conducts the BNTP on the last Wednesday of every month from February to November. These training sessions are broadcast across Australia and New Zealand. The BNTP sessions use Zoom conferencing to provide trainees with Rehabilitation Medicine knowledge and information. These sessions are not intended to prepare trainees for the AFRM Fellowship Examinations. 

View session dates

To join the video conference on the day, follow this link to the Zoom Software.

The meeting ID: 389 913 1497 

Email the RACP events team at or call +61 2 8247 6240 to arrange equipment testing. Ensure you do this as soon as possible to avoid any last-minute disruptions.

Important note: Please ensure that you turn your webcam off before you join the session. Due to the nature of the recordings if you connect to the videoconference with your webcam on you will appear on the screen. If you join the session late, the videoconference room will indicate that it is locked and will not allow you to connect, in this instance please call RACP events team +61 2 8247 6240.
This information will also be available on the AFRM Training Resources Page

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 Education and Training enquiries:
Name: Kathleen Walker, Education Officer
Phone: +61 2 8076 6350

AFRM Oral Examination enquiries:
Name: Irene Atsiaris, Examination Coordinator 
Phone: +61 2 9256 5422

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