New South Wales / Australian Capital Territory - August 2021
I hope that the past few months have seen you and your family keeping safe and well.
The current COVID-19 Delta strain is placing enormous pressure on everyone in the community and our healthcare system. I am hopeful that a renewed drive and capacity from the Government will increase vaccination rates. The community are increasingly becoming more enthusiastic about becoming vaccinated, which will enable our current situation to turn around by getting the case numbers under control. It will therefore project a visible pathway to normality. The vaccine is our greatest ammunition against the virus and will hopefully enable Greater Sydney and the rest of NSW/ACT to get back on their feet sooner rather than later.
I acknowledge the difficulties our trainees and Fellows are currently facing. Similar to the 2020 cohort, the 2021 cohort trainees have adapted to changes in the workplace, and changes in examination formats, all while dealing with an increasing number of COVID-19 patients and stresses to their own physical and mental wellbeing. I want to thank all trainees who are balancing these challenges and for their ongoing efforts to deliver the best care to the patients they look after each day. I also want to thank the Fellows and supervisors who are also in similar difficult circumstances, who continue mentoring their trainees to the best of their abilities. This collective COVID-19 experience (hopefully once in a lifetime) will no doubt shape us to be better physicians for our future patients.
I would once again, like to thank the Committee members for their flexibility and dedication for planning events during these challenging times. Our How genomics is changing clinical practice webinar was a great achievement, where we were able to present to members nationally. The event was well-attended and an informative experience for the entire membership. Upcoming events for 2021 include continuation of the Medicare compliance series, as well as financial and wellbeing events. We look forward to continuing our work where we increase the value and relevance of membership to Fellows and trainees throughout NSW and ACT.
At the time of writing this, Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour are in lockdown. The upheaval of daily freedom is becoming a regular occurrence. It is important to take this opportunity to once again to remind you that your College is here to support you. Please use our assistance program, Converge if you require support. This is a free and confidential service.
Please contact us if you have a particular area of interest or concern that we can help to address.
Dr Adrian Lee
NSW/ACT Regional Committee Chair
I came into occupational medicine in 2004. I have worked for WorkCare Medical, Health for Industry, Medibank Health Solutions and the Qantas medical department. I became an Occupational Physician in 2018. I work in private practice and with icare.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
I have just joined Injury Care and look forward to the best part coming. I am thrilled to be part of a large collaborative team that has a great vision.
What changes or initiatives do you want to see in the medical community?
I hope to see greater collaboration and more grassroots communication. The medical community would benefit from greater centres of excellence, as well as training opportunities outside the hospital system.
What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?
My greatest piece of advice I've received is to listen…
Thank you to all trainees who have provided feedback to us on the impact COVID-19 has had on your exams and wellbeing. Many of you will have completed your Divisional Clinical Examination or are about to sit it soon. We know how stressful this exam is at the best of times, and the changes to the delivery of the exam only heightens those feelings. Please reach out to the Trainees' Committee for support if you need it and let us know if you have any concerns you would like us to raise with the College.
Since our last update, we successfully held our first meeting with six new members. We also held a successful Basic Training Orientation webinar in May with over 170 registrations. The event saw colleagues and supervisors imparting their most valuable advice and strategies to guide you on your Basic Training journey. If you missed out, you can access a recording on the past event presentations webpage.
Last year we organised the Influence with impact - Continuing your professional development webinar. Since it was such a success, we'll be hosting it again, where you can hear from senior colleagues about developing the non-clinical aspects of being a physician. Please keep an eye out for this event in the coming months, you will receive an invitation soon.
Please email us if you have any concerns you would like to raise. We understand the uncertainty around exams remains and will do our best to feedback concerns and advocate for all trainees.
Dr Zoe Stephenson and Dr Vanessa Wong
NSW/ACT Trainees’ Committee Co-Chairs
In case you haven't met them all yet, please see the below friendly faces of your NSW/ACT Trainees' Committee. There is still one vacant position for a Faculty or Chapter member to join them. If you are interested in joining the NSW/ACT Trainees' Committee, please submit your expression of interest. If you have any concerns or items you'd like to raise, please contact us.
Pictured (from left to right):
Line one: Dr Anika Tungusova, Dr Arupam Raman, Dr Emily Walsh, Dr Lauren Shephard
Line two: Dr Nichola Sandys, Dr Rachel Debono, Dr Stella Watson, Dr Vanessa Wong
Line three: Dr Virginia Wong, Dr Zachary McPherson, Dr Zoe Stephenson
Member of the NSW/ACT Trainees’ Committee
What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
I enjoy resourcing and empowering patients and their families. Whether it is helping them to navigate the bureaucracy and hurdles within our healthcare system, or educating them about an aspect of their illness. Being able to arm people with the knowledge and skills to better tackle the challenges of common or complex illness is so anxiety-relieving for families, and personally very rewarding. Undoubtedly, a large part of my enjoyment of this stems from my time working in a patriarchal low-resource healthcare system where this was socially discouraged.
How have you achieved work-life-balance during COVID-19?
I am very fortunate to work in regional NSW during the pandemic, which is comparatively less affected by COVID-19. The pandemic's had the most significant impact on my work-life-balance while studying for the Divisional Clinical Examination (DCE). The modular format, delays due to ever-changing circumstances, and the restrictions on attending my primary training hospital, all culminated in a higher study workload at home. Being married to another paediatric DCE candidate didn't help either.
What would you like to achieve during your time on the NSW/ACT Regional Committee?
I would like to be a strong advocate for junior medical officers and trainee wellbeing, which is such a broad sentiment and a complex undertaking in a role contained to the limits of RACP as a training body. Ultimately, advocating for trainees as they navigate their progression through training, promoting resilience, highlighting avenues of support before or if they find themselves in times of difficulty, and having the committee work within their local settings to advocate for broader hospital culture change will be instrumental.
What advice can you share with Basic Trainees or junior doctors commencing their training?
Things can seem overwhelming initially. Everything is new and the volume of information can feel insurmountable. Even if it feels like you are not progressing, you acquire so much knowledge and skills gradually and unobtrusively that it's impossible to see your own improvement from your vantage point. Try not to forget that this is only one aspect of your life and not let it encroach on your work-life-balance – but this is easier said than done. Remember that part of your role in the hospital is to receive education and training, as well as to provide it.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I think that the pandemic has instilled in me a new love/hate obsessional relationship with puzzles and paint-by-numbers.
Member of the NSW/ACT Trainees’ Committee
What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
As a medical registrar, I find my role rewarding due to the impact we have on patients and their families. We have the ability to help them navigate on their hospital journey, especially when admissions can be difficult and confusing for families. Palliative care is one area I find particularly rewarding and so important for families who may rely on our guidance.
How do you manage work-life-balance during COVID-19?
Life during COVID-19 brings with it a whole range of emotions and has been difficult for everyone. I have two small children, so it's been particularly difficult during lockdown periods. I am amazed at how home schooling became a way of life and how the community adapted. Some incredible support networks were created in our local area including incentives to keep local businesses afloat. One of these incentives involved my local hospital purchasing food from struggling small businesses, which also ensured we were well-fed during COVID-19 shifts and to boost morale. This gesture helped balance work and home life – taking the pressure off food preparation during a very difficult time.
What do you aim to achieve in your role as a member of the NSW/ACT Trainees' Committee?
I am looking forward to contributing towards trainee wellbeing and support. The NSW/ACT Trainees' Committee has an important role in advocating for doctors in training during busy and challenging periods, often during examination periods and transitioning into Advanced trainee roles. I hope my experience in different roles, especially my time in the Air Force, can provide leadership and experience for doctors in training.
What advice can you share with trainees?
Create good support networks around you to get you through the tough times. Having a study group is one way to do this. Not only will it aid you in your exams, but it can provide an important avenue to debrief weekly events in a supportive and confidential environment.
Applications close Tuesday, 31 August 2021, 5pm AEST
NSW/ACT trainees and New Fellows undertaking post-Fellowship training are invited to submit abstracts for oral presentation at the 2021 RACP Trainee Research Awards. The awards are held annually, with each Australian state/territory and Aotearoa New Zealand selecting one winner from Adult Medicine and one from Paediatric and Child Health. Trainees from all Divisions, Faculties and Chapters are eligible to submit.
The best presenters from each Australian state/territory and from Aotearoa New Zealand are invited to be part of the Research and Innovation stream at the 2022 RACP Congress, with complimentary registration and travel. Abstracts are also published in the Congress supplement of the Internal Medicine Journal or Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health.
For information about application, eligibility, selection criteria and process, the abstract submission guideline, the prize details and a list of past winners please view this webpage. Submit your application by Tuesday, 31 August 2021, 5pm AEST. For queries, email the RACP NSW/ACT Regional Office.
Find out more
Genetic and genomic testing is finding application in an increasing number of medical specialties. Each year, more Medicare item numbers for genetic and genomic testing are introduced, bringing genomics into mainstream medicine. This was recently discussed at the How genomics Is changing clinical practice live webinar, which was held in collaboration with the NSW Health Centre for Genetics Education.
In 2020, the introduction of item numbers 73358–73363 for whole exome or genome sequencing in children aged younger than 10 years with a suspected monogenic (single gene) condition permitted paediatricians to order genomic tests in consultation with a clinical geneticist. While this new rebate should increase the likelihood of a genetic diagnosis and improve patient management and reproductive planning, the complexities of identifying suitable candidates, explaining the test and obtaining informed consent, along with delivering a potentially complex result with wide-ranging implications for both clinicians and families, can place an increased burden on already-stretched clinicians.
To help clinicians upskill and facilitate easier access to testing, the Centre for Genetics Education has developed the Genomic Testing for Childhood Syndromes and Intellectual Disability page. This site contains a range of resources designed to help busy clinicians prepare for, order and interpret genomic tests.
Of particular value to those with limited or no prior experience in genomic testing is a suite of educational videos, guidance on gaining informed consent, and specific resources to help with result interpretation and delivery (‘when the results come back from the lab’ section). The latter contains fact sheets on non-specific test findings (uninformative result, variant of uncertain significance, incidental findings), as well as links to sources of information about the most common genetic causes of childhood syndromes and intellectual disability.
The most recent addition is a series of diagnosis-specific fact sheets developed by the Centre for Genetics Education in collaboration with the Genetics of Learning Disability (GOLD) Service and a national team of clinical geneticists, paediatricians, genetic counsellors and patient advocates. These fact sheets contain information about the causative gene, clinical features of the associated condition, links to support for the family, and point-of-care guidance for physicians managing affected children.
In addition to these specific resources, the Centre for Genetics Education has a range of general resources about genetics and genomics, including a listing of Clinical Genetics Services, and an extensive selection of fact sheets covering general genetics and genomics as well as specific genetic conditions.
The recording of the recent webinar can be found on the College past events page for your information. It was an informative webinar with a very engaged audience.
Date: Tuesday, 19 October 2021
Time: 7pm – 8.30pm AEDT
Final year Advanced Trainees and New Fellows are invited to the RACP National New Fellows' Forum 2021. This online event will be held on Tuesday, 19 October from 7pm to 8.30pm AEDT. You'll hear about events and resources that will support you on your journey through Fellowship.
Topics will include:
- I'm a New Fellow, what’s next? A step-by-step process for New Fellows, including CPD
- The things I wish I knew when I was new: Hear from a recent New Fellow about what to expect
- Medico-legal issues directly relating to New Fellows
You will also enjoy a panel discussion supported by experienced Fellows to help you navigate through the next stage of your career.
The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) invites you to informal Q&A sessions on My Health Record. Held every Thursday, the sessions are open to healthcare providers and non-clinical staff working within primary care, hospitals and other health settings. Come along with your questions and concerns and ADHA will attempt to clarify any issues during the session. Please submit questions you would like answered in advance of the session.
Date: Held every Thursday
Time: 12pm - 12.30pm AEST
The Neil Hamilton Fairley Medal and the Eric Susman Prize
The prestigious Neil Hamilton Fairley Medal is awarded by the RACP every five years. It acknowledges the outstanding contributions to the field of medicine made by a Fellow or an individual who is not a member of the College. Recent recipients include Professor Alan Mackay-Sim and Professor Roger Reddel. Nominations close Tuesday, 31 August 2021. Details on the selection criteria and nomination process and are available on the website.
Find out more
Nominations for the Eric Susman Prize also close Tuesday, 31 August. This Prize is awarded to a Fellow for the best contribution to the knowledge of internal medicine.
Recipients of these two awards are invited to speak at the RACP Congress.
College Medals and Awards
Don’t miss your opportunity to nominate your colleagues for the annual College Awards acknowledging outstanding contributions and achievements in their respective fields.
Nominations close Tuesday, 14 September 2021 for the following Medals and Awards:
- The John Sands Medal recognises a Fellow who makes a significant contribution to the welfare of the RACP and its members.
- The College Medal is aligned to the College motto hominum servire saluti. It is awarded to a Fellow who makes a significant contribution to medical specialist practice, healthcare and/or health of the community through physician activities.
- International Medal recognises a member who has provided outstanding service in developing countries.
- Medal for Clinical Service in Rural and Remote Areas recognises a Fellow who has provided outstanding clinical service in rural and remote areas of Australia or Aotearoa New Zealand.
- Mentor of the Year Award recognises a Fellow who has made an outstanding contribution to mentoring or provided a high level of support and guidance throughout training.
- Trainee of the Year recognises a trainee who has made an outstanding contribution to College, community and trainee activities.
Successful nominees are presented a medal at the RACP Congress and receive full Congress registration, return economy airfares and up to three nights’ accommodation. Full details are available on the RACP Foundation webpage.
Find out more
Gerry Murphy Prize
AFPHM Advanced Trainees are encouraged to submit an abstract for the 2022 Gerry Murphy Prize. Trainees across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand will receive the opportunity to present on public health issues at regional competitions hosted by the AFPHM Regional Committees. The best presenter from each regional event will go on to compete for the Gerry Murphy Prize at the Population Health Congress 2022. Applications close Thursday, 30 September 2021.
Find out more
John Snow Scholarship
The John Snow Scholarship provides opportunities for medical students to increase their appreciation of public health medicine as a medical specialty and potential career path. Medical students currently enrolled in Australian or Aotearoa New Zealand medical schools are encouraged to apply.
Selected representatives from each region across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand will be invited to present at a virtual event hosted by the Faculty in 2022. They will also receive $250 cash and online registration to the Population Health Congress 2022. The overall winner will receive $1,500 cash. Please see the website for further details. Applications close Tuesday, 12 October 2021.
Find out more
RACP Trainee of the Year 2021: Dr Davina Buntsma
The RACP Trainee of the Year prize recognises a trainee who has made an outstanding contribution to the College, the community and/or trainee activities. The 2021 recipient is Dr Davina Buntsma, a dual Advanced Trainee in general paediatrics, as well as adolescent and young adult medicine. She has a strong interest in Indigenous health. Dr Buntsma completed her training through the Royal Children’s Hospital, Western Health, the Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Royal Darwin Hospital.
Dr Buntsma is recognised for her significant contribution and impact in supporting and improving education and training as Chair of the College Trainees’ Committee, among other roles at the College. She is motivated by a desire to support junior doctors and believes the College has a powerful responsibility for physician trainee education, wellbeing and leadership development.
Nominations for the RACP Trainee of the Year prize are open now and close on Tuesday, 14 September. Full details on the nomination process are available on the Foundation webpage.
Find out more
Practicing rural and remote medicine offers opportunities, career progression and a lifestyle simply not available in Australia’s big cities. You can watch a fascinating new series of short videos In our Own Words, about the critical role our Fellows and trainees fulfil in providing healthcare to small towns, the regions and remote Australia, via the Specialist Training Program (STP).
The STP is a funding initiative of the Australian Government Department of Health. There are around 900 STP-funded training positions across Australia, managed by 13 medical colleges. The RACP currently manages around 380 positions.
With funding from the Commonwealth Department of Health, we’re increasing awareness and understanding of the Program. Our members tell their own stories, what it has meant to them and the communities they serve.
We will be releasing these to you weekly over the coming months. The videos will be available on the RACP website, where we have created a new mini-site information about the program.
Your College, your voice. We’re listening
There’s still time to share your thoughts about the College via our Member Satisfaction Survey (MSS).
Please complete the survey and have your say so we can understand your overall satisfaction with the College and identify areas for improvement. The survey closing date has been extended by two weeks and will now close on Monday, 30 August 2021. The survey should take no longer than 15 minutes. This is your chance to tell us how we’re doing and have your say.
The survey is being conducted by EY Sweeney, an independent contractor. They will provide aggregated results back to us and any individual comments are not identified as coming from a specific member – your survey responses are anonymous.
How you can access the survey
On Tuesday, 27 July, you should have received an email containing the survey link from firstname.lastname@example.org. You should also receive a reminder email from them today, 13 August. If you didn’t receive these emails, contact us. Further information about the survey is available on the RACP website.
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In this webinar, trainees and supervisors impart their most valuable advice and strategies to guide you on your Basic Training journey. The event was presented by the NSW/ACT Trainees’ Committee and hosted by RACP NSW/ACT Regional Office.
The Supervisor Professional Development Program (SPDP) is a high-quality training program for educational supervisors who supervise trainees in accredited positions. The College Education Committee (CEC) has determined that all supervisors must complete at least one SPDP workshop by the end of 2021, and the remaining two workshops by the end of 2022. Once completed, you will be referred to as RACP Approved Supervisor.
Frequently asked questions
What workshops do I need to complete?
Please contact us and we will look into your records for you
Do you have any exemptions to this mandate?
Exemption from SPDP 1 and 2 is only possible for supervisors who have both relevant education, skills and experience. All supervisors must complete SPDP 3, including those granted exemptions from SPDP 1 and 2. SPDP 3 focuses on work-based assessment and the content is specific to the trainee assessment process. Find out more and access the exemption application form on this webpage.
Where possible, workshops will be virtual and offered via Zoom. To see all currently scheduled workshops, please visit the SPDP webpage.
If you have three workshops to complete, why not do one workshop every six months and spread them out over the 18 months? For any questions, please email us.
Find out more
A new online learning resource on ethics and interactions with industry has been developed to help RACP members conduct and maintain ethical relationships with industry. The resource supplements the RACP’s Guidelines for ethical relationships between health professionals and industry and aims to assist physicians in identifying, assessing and managing conflicts of interest through engaging video scenarios and discussion questions.
Each College Learning Series (CLS) lecture must pass clinical review before it is uploaded. To assist with these reviews, we are currently seeking PCHD Advanced Trainees and Fellows. Interested members are invited to email CLS@racp.edu.au for further information and to apply.
Episode 71: Voluntary assisted dying – What have we learned?
In 2017, Victoria was the first state in Australia to pass voluntary assisted legislation and has been followed by Western Australia, Tasmania and now South Australia. Aotearoa New Zealand passed its End-of-life Choice Bill two years ago and it will go live in November. This podcast draws on the experience of some very committed Victorian clinicians who share the lessons they've learned over the last two years about practical implementation of voluntary assisted dying (VAD).
The presenters were recorded at RACP Congress 2021 held in May. Palliative care physician, Dr Danielle Ko, explained how Austin Health has prepared and supported its healthcare staff through this shift in practice. Palliative care physician Dr Greg Mewitt described the challenge of consulting remotely with patients in regional Victoria. Professor Paul Komesaroff reflected on some other points of friction in Victoria’s law as it stands and the practicalities of medical practice. And Professor James Howe talked of his work as a neurologist in a Catholic healthcare institution, and how tensions over assisted dying had been resolved.
- Dr Danielle Ko FRACGP FAChPM (Clinical Ethics Lead, Austin Health; VAD Review Board, Safercare Victoria)
- Dr Greg Mewett FRACGP FAChPM DRCOG (Ballarat Rural Health; Grampians Regional Palliative Care Team)
- Professor Paul Komesaroff FRACP (Alfred Hospital; Monash University)
- Professor James Howe FRACP (VAD Review Board, Safercare Victoria)
- Dr George Laking FRACP (Auckland City Hospital; RACP President Aotearoa New Zealand).
Do you want to be among the first to find out about more Pomegranate Health podcasts? Subscribe to email alerts or search for ‘Pomegranate Health’ in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Castbox, or any podcasting app. RACP Fellows can claim CPD credits for listening and learning via MyCPD. For a transcript and further references please visit our webpage.
The results of the 2020 Physician Training Survey are now available to RACP members through an interactive reporting dashboard. You can access the dashboard through your MyRACP login.
View the Physician Training Survey 2020 Summary Report for an overview of the key findings for all physician trainees and educators and how they compare to those from 2018.
The survey results indicate that most trainee and educator respondents were satisfied with their overall training experience in 2020 and would recommend their workplace training setting to others. However, it is evident that last year, service provision took priority over education compared to previous years and educational opportunities were reduced. Ongoing issues regarding workload, wellbeing and workplace culture were highlighted once again, with increased rates of burnout, bullying, harassment and discrimination. While some of the concerning findings may be temporary impacts of COVID-19, the results highlight ongoing systemic issues that need to be addressed.
Through the Physician Training Survey, the RACP:
- supports individuals by providing confidential support to respondents who raised wellbeing concerns through the RACP support program
- drives improvements in training settings by providing feedback and identifying settings with results that indicate potential concerns and asking the training setting’s executives to respond to the feedback
- informs systemic change by using results in the development of strategic approaches to improve physician training and the culture of medicine.
We thank all trainees and educators who took part in this important activity.
About the Physician Training Survey
Eligible RACP trainees and their educators were asked to reflect on their training experiences during term three in Australia and quarter four in Aotearoa New Zealand. Twenty-one per cent (n=1675) of trainees and 17 per cent (n=907) of educators responded to the survey. The survey explored topics aligned to the Training Provider Standards. We also sought feedback on the impacts of COVID-19 on training.
The survey is independently administered by research company ENGINE, ensuring we receive anonymous survey data only. Data is not reported where there are less than five participant responses.
Further details about the Physician Training Survey are provided on the RACP webpage. If you have questions regarding the Physician Training Survey, please email us at email@example.com.
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