The President's Message - 25 September 2015

The President’s Message

The Council met in Melbourne on Wednesday, bringing together representatives from each of the 33 specialty streams, every Australian state and territory, as well as New Zealand, trainees, our two Divisions and Faculties.  

The Chairs of the Trainees, Fellowship, Research, Policy and Advocacy and Education Committees also attended.

One of the major issues discussed was the ongoing role of our seven State Committees. They perform a critical role in representing trainees and Fellows on a range of educational, professional development and advocacy issues.

They are also a valuable channel through which to raise issues and provide feedback to the Council and the Board.

This first Council meeting provided valuable feedback that we need to find ways to make our State Committee Members feel more engaged and to encourage more Fellows and trainees to be actively involved at state level. The Council recognised that lifting engagement from the committees is important and has recommended the formation of a working party to propose solutions.


First regional convocation

It gave me great pleasure to attend our first regional convocation, with 122 new Fellows in attendance, in Melbourne on Thursday evening.  Achieving this important milestone requires immense dedication and hard work, and I want to congratulate all new Fellows on attaining Fellowship. 

I urge you all to continue to seek new avenues for research, learning and service. 

We will hold a further regional convocation in Sydney during December.


New Australian Cabinet implications for health portfolio

As has been widely reported, Australian Prime Minister Turnbull has announced his new Cabinet. There has been a major focus on renewal and an increase in the number of women on the front bench, along with some minor changes in the health portfolio.

The Ministry has expanded to more than 60 roles spread across the Cabinet and outer Ministry, with the titles of the roles providing some insight into the new Government’s priorities. The expansion and terminology suggests there may also be some machinery of government changes. This signals that the Government will likely take several weeks to work through personnel changes and undertake what will be in effect a ‘strategic review’ of policy and priorities. 

Crucially for the RACP, the Minister for Health Sussan Ley remains in the Cabinet post which should mean little change for the current reform agenda, although this will be dependent on alignment with the Prime Minister’s goals and his support. 

Elsewhere in the portfolio, Fiona Nash has had a title change to Minister for Rural Health and WA MP Ken Wyatt comes into the Ministry as Assistant Minister for Health. It is as yet unclear what rearrangement of portfolio responsibilities these moves will create.

We are currently working to expand our understanding of these changes and preparing welcoming communications for Ministers.


Zero tolerance of discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment

There has been a media focus on bullying and harassment in the medical profession over the last month, and I would like to remind everyone of our College’s zero tolerance policy on these sorts of behaviours.

Our professional qualities curriculum outlines the College’s expectations of members. It includes provision of reassurance and support to colleagues, a zero tolerance in the workplace of sexual harassment and discrimination, and respect for and acknowledgement of professional contributions of all others in the workplaces, including office staff and employees.

Some parts of the health sector have problems with discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment. 

In response, our College Board has a Working Party which is conducting an investigation into the effectiveness of the College’s processes to respond to any allegations of bullying or harassment that occurs in the education relationship in the workplace environment involving members of the College. 

The Working Party will also recommend ways the College can strengthen support for our members in these situations and will report to the Board in December.

Laureate Professor Nicholas Talley
RACP President

Changes begin to introduce computer-based delivery of Divisional Written Examinations

A move to computer-based delivery of the College’s Divisional written examinations was the key recommendation of the Board-approved Divisional Written Exam Strategy. One of the first major steps in this process was for the College to invest in a specialised computer system - known as a digital item bank - to allow for online collaboration of question development and creation of the annual exam paper. 

Last week, on Tuesday, 15 and Wednesday, 16 September, exam staff and Fellows from the Adult Medicine Written Examination Committee had the opportunity to train on and assess the capabilities of the College’s new digital item bank, ExamDeveloper. The group experienced firsthand the new electronic method of developing and reviewing questions and securely storing finalised questions and related items. The Paediatrics Written Exam Committee will be given the same training via a webinar in February 2016.

Members of the Written Exams Committees for both Adult Medicine and Paediatrics author and approve the questions that make up the exam each year. Implementation of ExamDeveloper will streamline the exam question development process and provide a secure repository for approved exam questions and materials. Using ExamDeveloper, the College will be able to build a large, high-quality examinations resource which will allow it to provide candidates with more than one opportunity a year to undertake their Divisional written examination.

ExamDeveloper will be fully implemented in 2016, with Divisional Written Exam Committees using the system to develop the 2017 Written Exam papers. 

An historic day to be in Parliament House

Paediatrician Dr Karen Zwi and I met with Parliamentarians in Canberra last week to discuss the College’s call for the immediate release of all children from immigration detention.

We also called for amendments to the newly introduced Australian Border Force Act to ensure transparency and accountability. 

Our meetings spanned the political divide, but one with Craig Laundy MP was dramatically cut short by the news of Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership challenge. 

Mr Laundy had just undertaken to put our Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health Position Statement directly into Minister Scott Morrison’s hands. 

The College had previously requested a meeting with Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who declined.

Our other meetings included the Opposition Spokesperson on Immigration, Hon. Richard Marles MP, Russell Broadbent MP, Andrew Wilkie MP, Senator John Madigan, and Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.  

We highlighted our position statement as an evidence-based resource for officials to use when preparing for the arrival of up to 12,000 additional Syrian refugees for permanent resettlement under recently announced Government plans.

We welcome that decision.

But we also spoke up for the 1,579 people who remain detained on Manus Island and Nauru. During our meetings with politicians it became clear that the Government has no discernible plans for their future. This uncertainty is damaging to health and must end.  

The College is continuing its strong advocacy for the health of refugees and asylum seekers, especially the 205 children who remain in immigration detention. Of these children 87 are detained in the Nauru centre, while an unspecified number remain in Australia at risk of forcible return to Nauru at any moment.   

We hope to convince the 29th Prime Minister of Australia that a more health-affirming approach to refugee and asylum seekers policy is in all our interests. 

Medical Board of Australia announces next steps on revalidation

The Medical Board of Australia (MBA) has recently released its commissioned research on revalidation. The report includes three alternative models for the revalidation process in Australia for the Board to consider. 

The most demanding of these, Model C, is not substantially different from the annual review process proposed by a number of State Health Departments, or the recertification process of the Medical Council of New Zealand.  

The MBA will appoint a group to provide expert technical advice on revalidation and evaluation, to be chaired by Professor Liz Farmer, as well as a Consultative Committee comprising multiple stake-holders including Colleges.

The Chair of MBA, Dr Jo Flynn is reported as saying that the revalidation process “… will help ensure that the trust and confidence of the community has in the medical profession is well founded”. 

While the College strongly supports this notion, it also recognises that any revalidation must be meaningful and worthwhile for the participants, must not consume undue resource and needs to be readily integrated into clinical activities.

One major challenge is to ensure that the requirements of the many interested parties (physicians, the regulators, the Colleges, hospitals and institutions, Health Departments etc) are met without undue duplication or time-consuming reporting mechanisms.

The RACP Board has also considered revalidation as a way of maintaining the community’s trust in physicians and paediatricians. The College has been engaged in discussion around revalidation for some time and the results of these deliberations along with the proposed changes to CPD, mean that we are in a good position to engage with the MBA in meaningful and constructive discussions on revalidation.

The terms of reference for the MBA Expert Advisory Group and the Consultative Committee, as well as the research, are available on the Medical Board of Australia website.

Join the new Professionalism e-Learning Program (PeP) -  Modern Ethical Challenges 

The contemporary workplace is increasingly complex with physicians and paediatricians regularly challenged by ethical dilemmas, a multitude of cultural dynamics and occasionally, difficult colleagues. The RACP’s online course on modern ethical challenges will provide Fellows with an eLearning opportunity designed to boost professional skills in these areas. The program will run from October to December and will only take five minutes a day, two or three times a week via email.

Fellows participating in the PeP - Modern Ethical Challenges program will receive case study questions, with multiple-choice answers. Questions will explore issues including: 

  • modern ethical challenges (social media, use of smartphone, Facebook, Twitter)
  • cultural dynamics in the workplace 
  • dealing with difficult colleagues/when to report inappropriate behaviour.

The program aims to provide participants with: 

  • increased knowledge of professional behaviours
  • prompts for behaviour change
  • a space for constructive discussions about professionalism in the workplace
  • skills to manage stressful workplace situations.

Program participants will be eligible for CPD credits in Category 3, Self-Assessment Programs.  

To register your interest in the Modern Ethical Challenges program, please email sppp@racp.edu.au.

Please note, we are seeking new participants for this course as the case study content is similar to the Qstream Pilot run in 2014.

For more information about the course or to register your interest, please email sppp@racp.edu.au, places are limited. Expressions of interest to participate in the 2015 Modern Ethical Challenges course close at midnight on Monday, 19 October 2015.

Share your views, provide your expert opinion

This week presents the opportunity to provide input on t​wo projects:   

Patient-centred care and consumer engagement

All physicians, clinical and non-clinical, are invited to share their views on how to strengthen relationships with patients, their families and the community to provide better health outcomes.

Part of the collaborative research project being undertaken by peak consumer body, Health Issues Centre and the RACP to develop a college-wide strategy on patient-centred care, this short survey (5-7 minutes to complete) is designed to allow physicians and paediatricians to only answer questions that are relevant to their role. There are also free text boxes at the end of the survey to allow you to contribute further responses.

The survey closes Sunday, 18 October 2015 and results will be made available in early 2016 on the RACP website and in RACP News.

Take the Patient-centred care and consumer engagement survey.

Survey on further education on thrombosis and haemostasis

The Australasian Society of Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ASTH) seeks responses to a survey to determine the level of interest in a course for clinicians and scientists in thrombosis and haemostasis. It is anticipated that the course will be based around the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH) Clinical Core Curriculum. A laboratory curriculum is also in the early phases of development.

Survey responses will provide the necessary background to assist in planning the content, implementation and delivery of the course. No identifiable information will be collected.

The five minute survey will be open until Tuesday, 29 September 2015. For further information on this project, please contact Ms Marg Ross (ASTH secretariat) at asth@bigpond.com. 

Expressions of interest

MBS Review Taskforce calls for College nominations to 28 Clinical Committees - closes 28 September 2015

The College has been requested by the MBS Review Taskforce to submit nominations for 28 Clinical Committees by Wednesday, 30 September 2015.  For further information please visit the Taskforce website

The 28 Clinical Committees being established are:

  1. Allergy and Immunology
  2. Allied health (includes currently funded chronic disease management services)
  3. Anaesthesia
  4. Cardiology (includes cardiothoracic surgery)
  5. Consultation services (includes specialist and consultant physicians)
  6. Dermatology
  7. Endocrinology (includes endocrine surgery)
  8. General Practice (includes health assessments and acupuncture)
  9. General Surgery (includes abdominal, upper gastrointestinal and colorectal surgery)
  10. Gynaecology
  11. Hand Surgery
  12. Indigenous Health
  13. Intensive Care (includes neonatology and emergency medicine)
  14. Mental Health Services (includes psychiatry and GP mental health items)
  15. Neurology (includes neurosurgery and interventional neuro-radiology)
  16. Oncology (includes medical oncology, surgical oncology, radiation oncology, and cancer specific imaging)
  17. Ophthalmology
  18. Optometry
  19. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (includes the Cleft lip and Palate Scheme)
  20. Orthopaedics
  21. Paediatric Surgery
  22. Pain Management
  23. Pathology
  24. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
  25. Renal Medicine
  26. Spinal Surgery
  27. Urology
  28. Vascular Surgery and Interventional Radiology

The intention is for these Clinical Committees to be chaired by an expert from the particular discipline, and comprise specialist experts in the discipline as well as clinicians with expertise relevant to or associated with the committees’ focus.

The Clinical Committees are not age-specific. It is therefore important that the paediatric perspective is represented on each of the Committees that will have relevance to children.

The very tight timeframes involved, and the nature of Taskforce’s approach to establishing these committees, rules out a College EOI process for these nominations. 

If you would like to be nominated to one of the Committees please email racpconsult@racp.edu.au by COB Monday, 28 September 2015.

Please include the following details in your email: name, position/title, organisation, e-mail contact, and clinical interest/expertise.

The College will provide the list of interested Fellows to the Taskforce, who will then undertake their own selection procedure to determine the successful nominees.

Please note that the nominees will not be representing the College or their specialty. It should also be noted that the College’s MBS Review Working Party will not be engaging directly with issues of remuneration.

Please contact racpconsult@racp.edu.au if you would like further information.

Library & Heritage Committee - closes 28 September 2015

Applications are invited from Fellows and trainees who are interested in joining the College’s Library & Heritage Committee.

The Library & Heritage Committee has been established to review and provide direction on the ongoing management and maintenance of all College owned heritage and library assets, including an annual review of strategy, policy and guidelines, quality assurance of library asset management undertaken by the College and guidance as to retention or removal of heritage and library assets. Please see the Terms of Reference for further information.

For further information, or if you are interested in joining, please send a completed EOI application form and CV by 5pm, Monday, 28 September 2015 to library.heritage.committee@racp.edu.au

NSW/ACT State Committee - closes 9 October 2015 

The NSW/ACT State Committee is seeking applications from Fellows resident in the ACT who are interested in becoming the ACT Representative on the Committee. The term of this position will be until re-elections in June 2016.
 
The committee provides a forum for the views of NSW and ACT members and works to advance the interests of NSW and ACT members in key matters such as education, training and assessment of trainees; continuing professional development; and policy and advocacy.

More information on the NSW/ACT State Committee, including the by-laws of the Committee, is available.

Fellows interested in applying for membership of the NSW/ACT State Committee should submit their EOI form to racpnsw@racp.edu.au by 5pm (AEST), Friday 9 October 2015. 

South Australian Medical Education and Training Professional Medical Colleges Committee - closes Friday, 9 October

Applications are invited from South Australian Fellows and Trainees of the College interested in representing the College on the South Australian Medical Education and Training (SA MET) Professional Medical Colleges Committee (PMCC).

SA MET is accountable for improving the quality of education, training and welfare for trainee medical officers within South Australia. The PMCC focuses on the education and training of vocational trainees.

Further information is available in the PMCC Terms of Reference.

The successful nominee to this committee will be appointed for a three year term and is subject to the College Code of Conduct.

Please send your completed EOI form and CV to racpsa@racp.edu.au by COB Friday, 9 October 2015. If you have any questions please contact racpsa@racp.edu.au.

Medicines Australia Code of Conduct Committee, closes 30 October 2015

Applications are invited from Fellows and trainees who are interested in representing the College on Medicines Australia Code of Conduct Committee.

Medicines Australia has now completed the review of the Medicines Australia Code of Conduct to develop Edition 18. The Code review primarily considered the inclusion of further measures to provide transparency about payments or other transfers of value from pharmaceutical companies to healthcare professionals.

Edition 18 of the Code of Conduct allows for a panel of three physicians nominated by The College to be appointed to the Code of Conduct Committee for a period of three years.

Please see the Code of Conduct for further information.

​Please send your completed EOI application form and CV to racpconsult@racp.edu.au by COB Friday, 30 October 2015. If you have any questions please contact racpconsult@racp.edu.au

Conferences and events

NSW Advanced Trainee Forum - ‘Transitioning from Trainee to Consultant Physician/Paediatrician’, 7 October 2015, Sydney

The evening will feature engaging presentations from recently admitted Fellows and includes a panel discussion to answer questions on admission to Fellowship and job opportunities. 

As well as providing useful information, this is an opportunity to expand your contacts and network with other Advanced Trainees, Fellows and college staff.

Venue: Scot Skirving Lecture Theatre, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital 
Date: Wednesday, 7 October 2015
Registration: Email the NSW State Office at racpnsw@racp.edu.au

Medical Ethics in the Shadow of the Holocaust, 15 November 2015, Sydney

The University of Sydney Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine and the Sydney Jewish Museum present a seminar for medical and health practitioners, students and scholars. Topics include:

  • panel discussion: the relationship between the profession and the State
  • euthanasia in its contemporary context
  • medical ethics: Nazi doctors and Jewish doctors
  • evolution of medical codes of ethics
  • contemporary eugenics
  • examination of the medical profession and genocide
  • medical ethics and extreme adversity
  • historical overview of medicine under Nazism.

A certificate of completion will be provided for CME points.
For more information, contact Ilana McCorquodale at imccorquodale@sjm.com.au.

Venue: 148 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst NSW
Date: Sunday, 15 November 2015, 9.30am – 4.30pm
Registration: Please see the Sydney Jewish Museum website or phone +61 2 9360 7999
Cost: Early Bird Admission: $175 (until Wednesday, 30 September); General admission: $195; Members discount: $160; Student concession available on request - contact imccorquodale@sjm.com.au. Admission includes a light lunch.

Nominations for the following awards will be closing soon

The Eric Susman Prize
Howard Williams Medal

Please visit the RACP Foundation pages for further details about each award and to download nomination forms.

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