The President's Message - 4 November 2016

From talking directly with Australia’s Prime Minister, to ensuring our future trainees represent diversity, representing our College means engaging across an extraordinary range of stakeholders.

Representatives of the Committee of Presidents of Medical Colleges (CPMC)  met last week with the Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP.

The meeting gave us the opportunity to promote the role of the CPMC, and we focused first on the Specialist Training Program (STP) and the importance of continuing Federal government support.

In anticipation of the CPMC Summit on Obesity, to be held in Melbourne next week, we talked about this growing problem in our community.
President's Msg 4 Nov
From left: Dr Bastian Seidel (President RACGP), Prof Philip Truskett (President RACS), Prime Minister, the Hon Malcom Turnbull MP, Ms Angela Magarry (CEO, CPMC), Laureate Prof Nicholas Talley (Chair, CPMC), Dr Catherine Yelland, in the Prime Minister’s Sydney office.
Over 60 per cent of adult Australians and 30 per cent of adult  New Zealanders are overweight or obese. This has major consequences for healthcare and for the community as a whole, and we agreed it is a challenge which we must tackle on many fronts.

Later in the week, Linda Smith, our CEO, Helen Craig from the Policy and Advocacy Unit, and I met with the Health Minister, the Hon Sussan Ley MP. We discussed the STP in more detail, and covered Indigenous Health, Evolve, Digital Health, Integrated Care, the role of paediatricians in childhood and adolescent mental health and End-of-Life Care.

Presidents Bulletin_CY and minister_20161028_110128On Tuesday this week in Sydney, Linda and I joined the Presidents and CEOs of other medical colleges to give evidence to the Australian Senate Inquiry into Medical Complaints. 

This hearing was prompted by last year’s widely publicised reports of bullying and harassment across the medical profession, and was a valuable opportunity to brief senators on the many measures the RACP is already taking to address these issues.

Australian Indigenous Doctors Association (AIDA)

Ensuring physician diversity is another important issue for us to address. Māori medical student numbers are now reaching population parity, but in Australia, less than one per cent of doctors identify as Indigenous and  we still have a lot of work to do to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to  complete medical and then specialist training.  

AIDA is an important group advocating for greater numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainees, and better Indigenous healthcare. We were very pleased to support and attend their recent conference in Cairns.

We sponsored a workshop on resilience, using the “Tree of Life” method. We hosted a booth, and our Education Staff answered many queries about physician training.  We also participated in a workshop, attended by all the colleges, where medical students and young doctors could ask staff and Fellows about our programs. 

Our connection with AIDA is an important component in playing our part to improve the health of Indigenous people in Australia and New Zealand.  This includes closing the gap on inequalities in health outcomes, improving access to specialist medical services, and increasing the number of Indigenous doctors who participate in specialist training. 

The RACP is also a sponsor of this year’s Pacific Region Indigenous Doctors Congress (PRIDoC). Dr George Laking (Chair of the Māori Health Committee) will be delivering a presentation “Māori Health in The Royal Australasian College of Physicians”.

Collaboration with other Colleges 

I attended a workshop organised by  the  Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists and the  Australian and New Zealand  Society for Geriatric Medicine on Preoperative Care of Older People. The next week  we participated in  the Australian College of Emergency Medicine  on Integrated Emergency Care for Older Persons. Working with other colleges enhances our central purpose, which is “to serve the health of our people”. 

College Council

Our  College Council met  the day before our  Board meeting in Melbourne in October. Now that we are moving to a smaller skills based board in 2018, it is important that we continue to develop  the Council as the broad representative group in the College, reporting directly to the board.

The Council had most important comments and guidance  on: 

  • governance changes
  • implementation of the College’s Consumer Engagement framework 
  • revalidation 
  • workforce planning and our future Indigenous workforce. 

I thank the chair, Dr Alasdair MacDonald, and all the members for their contributions.  

Dr Catherine Yelland
President, RACP

Recent changes to the Australian Border Force Act 2015 – not an exemption for all doctors

Recent changes to the Australian Border Force Act 2015 exempt some but not all doctors from the compulsory drug and alcohol testing provisions and the secrecy and disclosure provisions of the Act.  

Doctors who provide services to the Department of Immigration as contractors or as employees of contractors are now exempt from those provisions.  

Doctors who provide services to the Department in other capacities are not exempt and the secrecy and drug testing provisions continue to apply.  

Those who have not been exempted include doctors who are employees of the Department or doctors who provide services to the Department as employees of state, federal or foreign governments or agencies. 

While the recent changes appear to be a step in the right direction, the College recommends that members working with immigration detainees seek independent legal advice and are fully aware of the implications before speaking publicly about their experiences. 


RACP Congress 2017 – registrations now open

RACP Congress 2017 marks the beginning of a new era for Congress, a flagship event and meeting place for all physicians. Congress has been the College’s ‘stand-out’ annual event since 1939, bringing physicians together to celebrate medical progress and achievement, shape healthcare policy, accelerate education and training and enhance patient care.

The new ‘shared interests’ focus of Congress 2017 is a landmark response to RACP research on the needs and interests of its 22,000 members. We asked you what you wanted and the answer was loud and clear. It is summarised succinctly in the Congress 2017 slogan, Bringing Specialists Together. Sharing Knowledge. Building Skills.

In addition to the regular clinical and specialty sessions for Adult Medicine, Paediatrics and Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Congress 2017 speakers will take an in-depth look at the ‘big issues’ that are relevant to all physicians. 

An expert panel will explore the health implications of obesity in populations across Australia and New Zealand. 

We will take a detailed look at the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and how it affects you and your patients.

And we will add to the conversation about Medicinal Cannabis by looking at the emerging legislation being developed across the region.

We are also pleased to announce that Professor Ross Upshur FRCPC will be delivering the opening keynote address. Professor Upshur is the Head of Clinical Public Health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health in Canada and is a leading bioethicist. His address on ethics promises to be a highlight on the program.

Other speakers include: 

  • Priscilla Kincaid-Smith Oration – Professor Brendan Murphy, Chief Medical Officer for the Australian Government
  • Ferguson-Glass Oration – Emeritus Professor Nortin M Hadler, Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Microbiology/Immunology, Division of Rheumatology, Allergy, and Immunology Thurston Arthritis Research Center (USA)
  • AFRM President’s Oration – Mr John Walsh AM, Board Member, National Disability Insurance Agency

For more information on our speakers and to view the program visit the Congress 2017 website.

 RACP Congress 2017 is an opportunity for you to:  

  • learn about medical breakthroughs 
  • hear the latest clinical updates 
  • attend high energy, cross-disciplinary think tanks 
  • network with global thinkers and healthcare leaders, socialise with peers and forge new professional ties. 

Congress is a valuable learning opportunity and participation counts towards your annual CPD requirements.

Register here

RACP Indigenous prizes and scholarships

The RACP is supporting Indigenous doctors in Australia and New Zealand by offering a range of Indigenous prizes and scholarships. Applications for the following are open now:

RACP President’s Indigenous Congress Prize

This prize is open to medical students, junior medical officers and physician trainees who identify as being of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or Māori descent.  

The applicants must be studying, researching or working in a field of medicine, medical science or medical education at an undergraduate, postgraduate or trainee level.

The prize includes:  

  • return economy airfares from home town to the RACP Congress
  • up to three nights’ accommodation 
  • full Trainee Registration (four days) or Medical Student Registration (four days).

 Visit the link for more details: RACP President's Indigenous Congress Prize.

RACP Indigenous Health Scholarships for 2017

Through its Indigenous Health Scholarship Program, the College annually offers up to eight scholarships to medical graduates and doctors who identify as being of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, Māori or Pacific Islander heritage and who would like to pursue a career as a physician. 

These scholarships cover all RACP training and examination fees for up to four years to the value of $10,000 for each year.

They also include registration, travel and accommodation to attend the RACP Congress and/or other relevant Annual Scientific Meetings.

Applications for the scholarships in 2017 are now open.

For full details and to download the application form, visit RACP Indigenous Health Scholarship Program or contact the RACP Foundation.

IMJ October 2016 issue

The October 2016 issue of the Internal Medicine Journal (IMJ) is now available online. This issue covers: 

  • Approach to autonomic dysfunction
  • Limitations in rapid response systems
  • Health surveillance of occupational divers
  • Goserelin in women with breast cancer 
  • Dementia: consensus-based guidance for clinicians
  • Aplastic anaemia 

The Editor's choice article in this issue is an Original Article by K.Thursky; M. Cotta, C.Chen; M. Tacey; R. James;  K.Buising; C. Marshall - What are the similarities and differences in antimicrobial prescribing between Australian public and private hospitals?

Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health

Read the latest articles including: 

  • Infant and toddler drowning in Australia: Patterns, risk factors and prevention recommendations
  • Pathogen and antimicrobial resistance ​profiles of culture-proven neonatal sepsis in Southwest China, 1990–2014
  • Parent and teacher perceptions of emerging special health care needs
  • Acute encephalopathy: When febrile status more than ‘​fits’ 

 Read the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health (member login required).


International Medical Symposium 2017 – save the date, 10 March 2017

The International Medical Symposium (IMS) 2017 will be held in Melbourne on 10 March 2017.

The program for the 2017 International Medical Symposium will build on previous symposia and focus on ‘Leading change’ in healthcare and the medical profession.

In 2017 the IMS will be hosted by the Australia and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA).

For more information please see the ANZCA website


Revalidation consultation open until 30 November

The Medical Board of Australia is seeking feedback from the profession, stakeholders and the community about the proposed approach to support medical practitioners to maintain and enhance their professional skills and knowledge, and to remain fit to practise medicine.

The Board has adopted the term ‘revalidation’ for this process.

The Board is now seeking feedback about the proposed approach to keep doctors’ skills and knowledge up to date. You can join the consultation in a number of ways

  • have your say in the online discussion
  • take a short survey to provide your views on the approach
  • send your written submission by email to or mail
  • read submissions made by others.

The College will submit a formal response to the revalidation consultation, but we encourage all Fellows to engage individually with the consultation directly through the Board’s website.

Seeking Fellows to improve CPD peer review

A trial to determine the benefits of a multisource feedback (MSF) tool in which physicians receive feedback from peers, colleagues and patients on their professional and clinical behaviour, is open to RACP Fellows for participation.

MSF has been identified by both the Medical Council of New Zealand and the Medical Board of Australia as a way to strengthen CPD processes.

The RACP is seeking expressions of interest from Fellows across all work settings who are keen to test the feasibility and efficacy of MSF, for Australasian physicians. 

The trial will begin recruiting from November, 2016 within RACP settings. On registering your interest you will receive more detailed information to consider before committing to the trial.


The role of women in the future of healthcare NSW – a panel discussion

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) invites RACP members to its Panel Discussion event ‘The role of women in the future of healthcare NSW’ in Sydney, 16 November.

The event will see health professionals discuss and share their views for the future, particularly around the role that women will play in it.

The panellists include some of the leading women in NSW health care including:

  • Dr Ruth Bollard, Chair Women in Surgery
  • Ms Carrie Marr, CEO of Clinical Excellence Committee
  • Dr Sharon Tivey, Medical Women’s Society NSW
  • Libby Davies, CEO White Ribbon Australia​

For more information and to register, see the RACS website, email, or ph +61 2 8298 4500.


Expressions of Interest

EOI: Seeking new members for the RACP’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Committee, closes 14 November 

Are you interested in the health and equity for Australia’s First Peoples? Then apply to be on the College’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Committee (ATSIHC).

The Committee is currently seeking new members with expertise and understanding in the area, who are passionate about making improvements through engagement and reform. 

The ATSIHC has been particularly successful over the last 18 months in advocating for improved access to specialist care to be included in the government’s implementation plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan.

Driving this priority forward, through developing and advocating for a national framework to improve the consistent availability, quality and cultural safety of appropriate specialist care, is the ATSIHC's key focus.

In addition, the ATSIHC is also leading and contributing to other College priorities, including working for a culturally safe health system that understands and recognises the strengths, needs and diversity of First Australians. Also, working to support the growth of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander physician workforce.

The College is about to embark on the development of a new Indigenous Strategic Framework. This will articulate the College’s strong commitment to and clear goals for our contribution to delivering equitable health access and health outcomes, and equitable opportunity for medical specialist training for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and Māori in New Zealand.  

The Strategic Framework will outline the strategies and initiatives that are needed to deliver on these goals, and its development will be guided by ATSIHC and the College’s Māori Health Committee.

Interested RACP members are asked to complete the Expression of Interest form and email, along with your CV as relevant to this position, to by COB Monday, 14 November 2016.​

EOI: Pacific Special Interest Group

Over 80 Fellows, trainees and medical graduates in the Pacific, New Zealand and Australia have registered their interest in joining a Pacific Special Interest Group.  

We are facilitating registrations through an RACP share site which also holds information about the Pacific region, country specifics, availability of Pacific scholarships, and links to cultural competency resources.

If you would like to connect with this growing network contact

EOI: Content Development Working Group – End-of-Life Care Qstream Course, closes Friday 18 November

The Learning Support Unit is seeking to appoint a group of six Fellows and Advanced Trainees to form a Content Development Working Group for the End-of-Life Care Qstream course. 

The course will be comprised of ten case studies focused on end-of-life care. The case studies will be aimed to start discussions amongst Fellows, resulting in a change of practice around end-of-life care.

The role of the Content Development Working Group will be to develop the course content for the physician audience. Key responsibilities of the Working Group will include: 

  • attending a face-to-face workshop to learn more about the Qstream platform, and establish the topics and content of the cases and delegate writing tasks (meeting location TBC).
  • finalising case development via teleconferences and emails following the face-to-face workshop.

Finalising the course content may span over eight weeks via teleconferences and emails following the face-to-face meeting.

Interested Fellows and Advanced Trainees must submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) form and a copy of their CV. You should include a brief supporting statement outlining how your qualifications, experience and interest in educational content development will contribute to the objectives of this Working Group.

Appointed members will be eligible for CPD credits.

The face-to-face meeting date will depend on availability, but will ideally take place in late November/December.

Expressions of Interest close on Friday, 18 November 2016. 

To request an EOI form, or for further information, please contact Rebecca Lewis: or +61 2 8247 6239. 

About Qstream

Qstream is a novel, evidence-based, online delivery methodology in which short case scenarios accompanied by multiple choice or short answer questions, are emailed to participants over a period of time. 

Learning is reinforced over time. Qstream has been demonstrated to significantly improve knowledge retention and have a positive impact on clinician behaviour.

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