Northern Territory - April 2020

A message from the Northern Territory Regional Committee Chair


We are living in unprecedented times with the COVID-19 situation, which is changing the way we interact with the world around us.  During this time the work of the College has had to adapt, as we all have.

This edition of the eBulletin shares recent College activities in the Northern Territory before the widespread impact of the virus, as well as explaining plans for the immediate future.

As you know, many College events and activities have been affected including moving Congress online and postponing of the clinical exams and the Convocation Ceremony planned for Melbourne in May. All face-to-face committee meetings are now held by videoconference. The situation is very fluid, and more changes may come, however the work of the College goes on, as members and staff adapt to these rapidly evolving changes.

This situation adds additional pressures on us all. Remember you are not alone, and I encourage you to reach out if you need support. 

Here are some options: 

  • The RACP Support Program is there for you; it is free, completely independent and confidential (the College is never told names of who contacts them), available 24 hours and seven days a week.  There is also a wealth of online resources.
  • Doctors Health NT offer a helpline for doctors needing urgent confidential support: call them on 8366 0250.
  • DRS4DRS are recommended by Doctors Health NT and have great online resources.
  • Beyond Blue - Health Service Program provides support for a range of health professionals
  • AMPHEaT - COVID-19 mental health impacts webinar helps you respond to patients with mental health impacts, stress, and coping (Adelaide PHN funded).

I hope you all stay safe during this challenging time.  Your College is here to support you – reach out to one of the Northern Territory Regional Committee members or your Member Support Officer, Lana Rohde from the SA/NT Regional Office.

Dr Rob Tait  MBBCh. FRACP
Northern Territory Regional Committee Chair

A message from the NT Trainees’ Committee Co-Chairs

Welcome to all Northern Territory Basic and Advanced Trainees, and to those visiting from interstate. We are very privileged to be working in such a beautiful and culturally rich part of the country, and I'd like to acknowledge, thank and pay our respects to the traditional owners of the land we live and work on and to pay our respects to the elders, past, current and future.

The role of the Northern Territory Trainees' Committee is to advocate for and support all trainees, particularly related to local issues such as accessing equal opportunities to education and supporting sustainable medicine, cultural training and rural and remote challenges. This year is panning out very differently than expected, and we are facing many medical, societal and personal challenges.

We will continue to address your training issues and will assist in putting forward your concerns to the College about COVID-19 and training implications. Planned local Northern Territory education and information sessions will be made accessible by videoconference. Please get in contact with us if you have particular concerns or questions.

We would like to remind you to continue to find meaningful connections with your patients and colleagues, even if hampered by physical barriers. Look after your own wellbeing with healthy diet, exercise, minimal alcohol and regular communication with family and friends.

If you or your family members require support, the Employee Assistance Program is a great resource, providing free psychology services for all government health employees and their families. The RACP support program Converge is another resource available to you. It is a confidential service available 24 hours, seven days a week, free for Fellows and trainees. Please utilise your GP and other relevant services also. Looking after ourselves will help us to look after our communities.

As a health sector we will see advances in telehealth, learn flexibility in care delivery, and will face resource challenge. Long term, this will make us a stronger profession, improve patient satisfaction, provide more sustainable care and more flexible working conditions. Let's continue to look for the positives in the current climate and continue to support each other and our community in unprecedented times.

We wish you all the best for 2020,
Kirsty and Hannah


Dr Kirsty Neal and Dr Hannah Bills
Northern Territory Trainees’ Committee Co-Chairs

College Bodies expressions of interest open

Expressions of Interest (EOI) are now open across all of our College Bodies for various positions on councils and committees. View listings for more information on the positions on offer.

You are invited to express your interest in the below categories:

College updates

COVID-19 impact on College activities in the Northern Territory

The virus is impacting the world around us in unprecedented ways, and the College has responded, changing the way it operates. The government directives are being followed and as you may be aware, the College has established an expert clinical reference group comprising experts from infectious disease, respiratory medicine, geriatric medicine, public health medicine and occupational and environmental medicine. These clinicians haveprovided advice to the College on the appropriate response given the situation in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

In the Northern Territory, the work of the College has been less impacted than some other jurisdictions, since the SA/NT Regional Office is in Adelaide and many of the services to NT are already provided remotely.  However, these are the changes introduced by the SA/NT Regional Office in response to COVID-19:

  • All College committee meetings and events are now held via videoconference, supported by the staff in the regional office.
  • College staff are unable to travel, so staff from the regional office will not be coming to Darwin for committee meetings or events but joining via videoconference from Adelaide.
  • Our Member Support Officer, Lana Rohde, will not be attending local Grand Rounds and other hospital-based events.
  • The Adelaide office has been closed to members, and all staff are working from home.

The good news is that you can continue to contact the regional office staff in the same way as always, via email or phone 8465 0970, as they work from home.

Training in regional Australia: A shared experience of moving from a metro acute care hospital

Dr Kirsty Neal, Advanced Trainee, Alice Springs Hospital

Tell us about yourself and why you’re in Alice Springs?

I'm a final year Endocrine Advanced Trainee and have just commenced work at Alice Springs Hospital as an Endocrine Registrar. I didn't go looking for a job in Alice Springs, rather, I stumbled upon the job.

It didn't occur to me that a position outside the main tertiary hospitals on the Eastern (or Western) seaboard would offer a position that would contribute to my training program. I am passionate about Indigenous health, practising sustainable medicine and want to learn different aspects of healthcare delivery that can't be taught in capital city tertiary hospitals. Such as the challenges that face remote and marginalised communities.

My husband and I had to find reasons not to come to Alice Springs. The place is beautiful, with all sorts of outdoor wonders to explore, a diverse cultural richness and an active and supportive community. We have two young girls and are conscious of giving them a rounded upbringing including teaching them different ways of being and living, cultural acceptance and understanding. What better place?

What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?

Effective communication is probably the most rewarding aspect, and also the most challenging part of my role (and hopefully not unique to me).  A major part of our job is listening and educating. We cannot fix everyone, but helping someone understand their condition and effectively explaining management options can make a big difference to patient satisfaction and quality of life. The gratitude from patients when they feel like their concerns are being listened to is very rewarding. I am constantly working on this, even more so now, learning to communicate with our Indigenous community. I am actively learning about Aboriginal history and culture through books, documentaries and local knowledge to better understand, communicate and build relationships.

What is it about your work that makes you want to get out of bed each morning?

I like the variety of consults, the interesting medicine and pathology unique to central Australia and I work with a lot of very inspirational people, both colleagues and patients. I also enjoy developing relationships with patients and as clichéd as it sounds, I like helping people feel better.

What does a typical day at work look like for you? 

Handover at 8am, consults in the morning, clinic in the afternoon (or the other way around). Scattered in between with letter writing, presentations and teaching, and journal clubs. I usually leave work on time.

How do you manage work/life balance? 

I like to prioritise leaving work on time to see my girls. Occasionally this means working after they've gone to bed. My husband and I try to arrange babysitting every now and again to ensure we have quality time together. We aim to exercise five times a week (often taking it in turns, occasionally with barge (aka 'double pram') in tow) and to have outdoor activities on weekends such as bushwalking and playdates (no playdates at the moment, of course). Previously in Sydney I did not have a good work-life balance - I did not see the girls most weekdays as I left for work before they were awake and returned when they were in bed. Moving to Alice Springs has eliminated the three-hour daily commute and I have way more time. I even get an extra hour of sleep, which is pure heaven.

Are there any patient success stories that you can share?

The successes come in the form of developing relationships, trust and rapport with patients. In turn (and in time), hopefully this leads to improved health outcomes and quality of life and strengthens our community and intercultural bonds. This takes time and I have only been here seven weeks. Watch this space.

Alice Springs Hospital celebrates end-of-term differently from other parts of the world

simon articleAlice Springs Hospital celebrates end-of-term differently from other parts of the world. The registrars are caught between the Tropic of Capricorn just 30km to the north, and the cold winds from the south, and this term they decided to celebrate another great experience in Central Australia by wearing cowboy hats and tropical shirts on their last Friday.

As always, it was a great bunch of registrars who all contributed tirelessly to working for our community, in a hospital where over ten languages are spoken on ward rounds every day. Many learned to pronounce organs like the heart in some of the most ancient words still spoken on the planet – loco-loco in Warlpiri for instance, but all of them missed the mighty Todd River which came to life with a bellyful of water the day after they all left.

The new registrars feel like they have been welcomed by all of this rain at least. The old lot departed having all seen first-hand the great challenges of inequity in Aboriginal Australia, and many of them want to return to contribute some more.

Alice Springs Hospital is always looking for the best of the best registrars and has a wide range of basic and advanced training positions in general and sub-specialty medicine. Please contact the DPE if you are interested.

Dr Simon Quilty

Support for doctors in the Northern Territory from Doctors' Health NT Program

We are working in challenging times and in many ways unchartered territory, things seem to be changing by the hour which adds pressure to an already pressured health system. The team at Doctors’ Health NT are here for the Northern Territory medical community. We understand that respective medical Colleges and other key organisations such as AMA are sharing support information too.

You have access to the following services, which are immediately available:

  • Doctors self-care in a world of COVID-19 – As things become more hectic it remains important to practics some self-care. Medical Director, Dr Roger Sexton has written the five principles of self-care. You can also access information about COVID-19, which will continue to be updated with appropriate information.
  • Doctors only - 24/7 urgent support phone line  – The phone line is operated by experienced GPs located in South Australia who also work with the Doctors’ Health SA program. Medical students and concerned colleagues can also call this phone line. You can remain anonymous, and do not need to disclose your name or where you work.
  • Dedicated Doctors for Doctors team available via telemedicine

  • Psychologist service – we are working on this by a telepsychology option through the Doctors’ Health NT program, and once we have that bedded down more will advise you of this.

  • Thank you if you were one of the doctors who completed our Doctors’ Health Survey last year. We have been using the results of this survey in planning supports and services for the program, however some of our plans are now on hold, but we are keen to do more post-COVID.

The Doctors’ Health NT program is a not-for-profit service for all registered medical practitioners and medical students. All services are for free and all medical records are held in strict confidence by the program. It is purely grant funded and at arms-length, with funds from the Medical Board of Australia and the NT PHN – however no information is provided in reports other than aggregated statistics and it does not state any specific towns other than person contacting program is either regional or remote.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions in relation to the information above. Further information is available on our website and you are welcome to forward this information onto colleagues.

Awards and recognitions

Winners of the Northern Territory Trainee Research Awards 2019

Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 Northern Territory Trainee Research Awards. The Awards were held on 6 December 2019 as part of the Northern Territory's Members Forum, which was held at the Charles Darwin University.

Adult Medicine

Congratulations to the recipient of the 2019 Northern Territory Trainee Research Award in Adult Medicine, Dr Martin Hansen, who presented Morbidity associated with Strongyloides seropositivity: a retrospective case-control study in remote northern Australia.

Martin is a Basic Trainee interested in public health, with a focus on rural and remote communities. He has been working in the Top End for four years across RDH, Katherine and Gove Hospitals.

Paediatric and Child Health

Congratulations to the recipient of the 2019 Northern Territory Trainee Research Award for Paediatrics, Dr Matthew Lynch for his presentation on Endotracheal tube tip positioning in children admitted to a tertiary paediatric intensive care unit: Single centre quality audit.

Matthew was in his final term of training as a Community Paediatric Registrar at RDH and worked in the Top End for the last two years of his training. Prior to that he worked in Adelaide and has had a strong focus on acute care medicine through his Paediatric training.

trainee awardsThe other presenter was Dr Antonia McLean: Blood groups in the Northern Territory of Australia.

A special thanks to our judges: Dr Jane Davies, Dr Megan Brown and Dr Peter Wallis.

Left to right: Dr Jane Davies, Dr Matthew Lynch, Dr Marty Hansen, Dr Peter Wallis, Dr Antonia McLean and Dr Megan Brown

RACP Northern Territory Member Support Officer update

lanaHi, I’m Lana Rohde, your local RACP Member Support Officer. I recently had the pleasure of meeting many new Basic Trainees at orientation events in Alice Springs and Darwin. It was a great opportunity to personally meet you and put faces to names.

New trainees received a RACP goodie bag including useful information, a RACP drink bottle and a USB loaded with many resources to help support their training journey.

Some events for trainees to look forward to include:

As your College contact, please contact me with any questions you have. You can continue to reach me on the same details as always:

Phone: 08 8465 0971

I look forward to (virtually) seeing you at upcoming events,

Lana Rhode.

Upcoming events

Virtual Basic Training Exam Preparation and Panel

You are invited to the Virtual Basic Training Exam Preparation and Panel workshop on Tuesday, 12 May from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. This is a great opportunity to hear tips and advice for managing exam pressures and stress, benefits associated with being assessed and effective study strategies

The session will be held by Dr Simon Rocheleau (Adult Medicine, Royal Adelaide Hospital) and Dr Antonia Chan (Paediatrics & Child Health, Women's and Children's Hospital). The Trainees’ Committee will join our presenters to form a panel to answer all of your questions.


Recent Events

CPD Information Session

On 26 and 27 February, there were CPD Information Sessions held at the College SA/NT Regional Office in Adelaide about the new CPD Framework. Members also joined by videoconference from Darwin, Alice Springs and rural NSW.

Dr Rob van den Berg (Chair, SA Regional Committee) was MC and two staff from Sydney head office presented. Michael Pooley from Member Learning and Development talked about the background to the Medical Board’s changes and the resources provided by the College to assist with meeting the new requirements. He spoke about the new category, Reviewing Performance and Measuring Outcomes. He took members through the online MyCPD Interactive Handbook and showed how to access the many resources it contains.

Shona Black, who manages the CPD Unit, answered questions about the type of evidence needed for recording CPD activities. Members took the opportunity to ask questions about their individual situations, and answers were provided by Michael, Shona or Rob.

Since these information sessions, and in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the College has introduced accommodations for those members whose 2019 CPD is currently incomplete. 

In summary, these accommodations are:

  • Late submission and alternative submission fees waived.
  • All records closed 31 March as scheduled, but on 3 April all incomplete records were given a complementary extension until 31 July.
  • The CPD Unit is investigating other ways the College can support members to meet their 2019 CPD requirements.
  • The College is talking with regulators regarding 2020 CPD requirements, and once more is known the College will communicate with the membership.

Northern Territory Basic Training – Orientation

The Northern Territory Basic Training Orientation Session was held at Flinders University on Wednesday, 19 February. For many, it was their first introduction to the College and the opportunity to meet other Basic Trainees from RDH and Palmerston Regional Hospital.

Participants heard from our guest speakers, Professor Bart Currie, DPE Dr Emma Spencer, Dr Bronwyn Carson, RACP Senior Executive Officer for SA/NT Katherine Economides and RACP Member Support Officer for SA/NT Lana Rohde.

Professor Bart Currie was thoroughly enjoyable with his talk on what makes the Northern Territory different, and the difference was evident. He interacted with everyone on a personal level, providing attendees the platform to tell the group where they come from and how they ended up in the top end: Eastern states, Adelaide, Broome and even a few born and raised in Darwin.

DPE Dr Emma Spencer thoroughly explained training requirements and encouraged potential trainees to reach out for help.

Dr Bronwyn Carson delivered a presentation on behalf of Doctors Health NT. She expressed how important it is for doctors to look after their own health and wellness, and to look out for each other.

Following a presentation from Lana Rohde on the College requirements of the Basic Training program, Dr Martin Hansen and Dr Chris Xu of the NT Trainees’ Committee provided the audience with information on approaches to training, hospital-based learning and their experience of what to do and not to do.

At the end of the presentations, trainees networked with their new peers over a light supper and refreshments.

BT 1 BT2 BT3

Supervisor workshops

In February we held a Supervisor workshop in Darwin facilitated by Dr William Majoni. This workshop was well attended and hopefully it will be the first of many workshops this year for Northern Territory members, pending the progress of COVID-19 of course.

SPDP workshops wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for our facilitators who so generously donate their time and efforts. I would like to extend a big thank you to facilitators, Dr William Majoni, Dr Elio Gagliardo, Dr Emma Spencer, Dr Di Howard and Professor Peter Morris, who have supported these events with enthusiasm.

In light of recent health guidelines on the spread of COVID-19, all face-to-face SPDP workshops scheduled for the foreseeable future have been cancelled. Where possible, workshops will be virtual and offered via Zoom. To see all currently scheduled workshops, please visit the SPDP webpage.

If you have completed at least one supervisor workshop in the past and would like to become a facilitator, we have  training coming up this August in Alice Springs (location may be virtual pending the current coronavirus situation). Please email Supervisor Learning Unit to register you interest.

Doctors can access confidential, trusted support for their own healthcare

Finding support for your own healthcare can be challenging. The barriers that doctors experience is unique, in comparison to the general public.

The ability to take time away from a busy professional life, concern for confidentiality and mandatory reporting, as well finding a supportive, experienced doctor for doctors, all impacts on doctors seeking care. The barriers are greater for rural and remote doctors with geographical isolation preventing access to independent medical care.

In South Australia and the Northern Territory, a doctors' only health service exists to remove those barriers in an effort to provide a health and wellbeing program in a supportive environment. Physicians in South Australia and the Northern Territory can access the 24 hours, seven days a week urgent advice line operated by long time experienced doctors for doctors (phone 8366 0250).

For further information visit the Doctors Health NT website.

We are preparing to deliver Congress 2020 to you online

So you can still learn from each other, engage with experts and your peers and contribute to the conversation we are now preparing to deliver Congress online. RACP Congress 2020 Balancing Medical Science with Humanity online program will explore the theme and deliver shared sessions and selected stream sessions for you to access from your computer or device.

You will be able to watch orations, interact with experts through webinars and listen and contribute to panel discussions via podcasts.

Details about the sessions and how you can access the program will be announced soon.

Pomegranate podcast: The art of telehealth

COVID-19 has left few people around the world unaffected, and health practitioners are among those at the top of the list. Their daily and intimate service to the public inevitably puts them at risk of catching the virus, while social distancing precautions can compromise the work they do. Dreadful as the viral disease is, the bigger consequences of the pandemic may be on the disruption to routine healthcare.

Consulting patients by video or phone can be a way to keep healthcare ticking over, but many doctors are nervous as they adopt it for the first time. In this podcast we go over some of the bureaucratic and tech support questions that clinicians have been asking during the current crisis. We also discuss the art of building trust with new patients, and conducting a physical examination through telehealth.

The guest speakers are oncologist Sabe Sabesan and paediatrician Michael Williams, who’ve been pioneering telehealth outreach to rural and remote Queensland for more than a decade.

Listen now

Discover your online learning options today

We understand you’re busy and on-the go, so discover our quality online education. Access a range of online learning courses, resources, lectures, curated collections and podcasts which have all been developed by members, for members. The interactive nature of our online learning resources enable you to learn from your peers. Accessible anywhere and optimised for mobile on-the-go learning, RACP Online Learning Resources are free for members and count towards CPD requirements

Access today

End-of-Life Q Stream

Fellows can claim CPD credits by completing the Online Professionalism Program (OPP)

Looking for another effective avenue to claim CPD credits? We recommend considering OPP. OPP is an evidence-based, spaced online learning program. The program has been demonstrated in randomised trials to improve knowledge acquisition, boost retention, change on-the-job behaviours and improve patient outcomes.

OPP delivers short and practical case studies right to your inbox, and feature multiple-choice questions. These case studies are created by a Working Group whose experience is in the relevant field or topic. Each multiple-choice question takes about five minutes to complete, with an opportunity to re-attempt each question if answered incorrectly.

These questions are framed in clinical scenarios and are designed to encourage critical thinking. Each question links to a discussion forum for participants to engage in conversation about each case study. This is in acknowledgement that there is not always a right or wrong answer.

On 16 March 2020, the RACP’s Continuous Learning team launched the End-ofLife Care OPP Course to over 40 participants. The End-of-Life Care Course is designed to enhance physician’s skills with end-of-life and advance care planning.

The End-of-Life Care Course is comprised of 11 multiple-choice questions which will take participants three to four weeks to complete. Participants can claim CPD credits (one credit per hour) in Category 1: Educational Activities, for the time they spend on this resource.

If you are interested in the current End-of-Life Care course or future OPP courses, please register your interest by emailing

Insurance implications of genetic testing survey

In 2017, Monash University surveyed health professionals regarding their knowledge, experience and views regarding the life insurance implications of genetic testing. In 2019, policy in this area changed, and we are keen to understand whether, and if so how, things have changed. You are eligible if you are a qualified health professional (other than a general practitioner) working in Australia or Aotearoa New Zealand who has direct contact (by telephone or in person) with clients who are considering genetic testing.

Please complete this important survey. It should not take longer than 10-15 minutes to complete, and can be anonymous. The findings of this project will contribute to a policy response to the Australian government regarding the current situation, and your participation will assist with gathering critical data in this space. For any queries regarding this research, please contact Jane Tiller

Complete the survey


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the opening hours of the SA/NT Regional Office?

Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. This is unchanged as staff work from home due to COVID-19 measures.

Where is the SA/NT Regional Office located?

The SA/NT Regional Office is currently closed to members and staff are currently working from home. However, the address is: Suite 7, Level 2, 257 Melbourne Street, North Adelaide SA 5006

What is the contact number for the SA/NT Regional Office?

You can reach our office on 08 8465 0970 or Member Services on 1300 697 227.

Where can I park at the SA/NT Regional Office?

Two hour street parking is available in Melbourne Street and all-day parking opposite the Old Lion Hotel (fees apply).

How do I book a meeting?

Although the office is currently closed due to COVID-19, we can assist you with booking virtual meetings. Please email us or call 08 8465 0970.

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