Victoria - May 2019

A message from your Victorian Regional Committee Chair

The regional newsletters are a welcome opportunity to keep you up-to-date on the exciting activities happening in Victoria. The Victorian Regional Committee plays a vital role as part of the College. The Committee is instrumental in delivering College policy, events, awards and programs to Fellows and trainees based in Victoria. It is also an important contact point for local Fellows and trainees to engage with and receive support from the College. As a committee we offer a voice to local members in the advocacy to government, health departments, and other stakeholders on issues affecting our members.

This edition Victorian Spotlight section features two articles, one by Dr Natasha Cook who is a nephrologist at Austin Hospital and the other by Drs Joanne Tan and Rahul Barmanray both trainees in Melbourne. If you have a service or member you would like to nominate to be a feature for the Victorian spotlight section, please let us know.

A number of events are also being held in Victoria ranging from Supervisors Professional Development Program (SPDP), RACP Congress 2020 and the Victorian Career Expo. Members are invited to attend these events and share this information through other networks.

The next edition of our newsletter is due to be published in August and we are always keen to publish interesting content and support our Victorian members. If you have anything you would like to contribute, please contact us.

Professor Judy Savige FRCP FRACP FRCPA PhD MSc Dip Mgmt
Chair, Victorian Regional Committee

Fellow in focus - members and services

Are you happy to share the road with your patient?
Physicians ARE responsible for Road Safety

Dr Natasha Cook

As physicians we have capacity to make enormous contributions to road safety by addressing driving fitness with our patients.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t something I thought much about until tragedy affected my family. Together with colleagues from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine and VicRoads, I am sharing my journey about how we can better attend to driving fitness assessment and management of our patients.

It was revealed in court that the driver who left my husband with devastating brain injury through negligent driving, had a plethora of medical conditions associated with his drink driving offence.  Many encounters with health professionals had occurred in the preceding twenty years of severe polysubstance abuse.  Eventually when I returned to work and saw other alcoholics with obvious frontal lobe and cerebellar damage, I started to ask, “are you driving?”  Before long, I started asking the same question of many patients with complex medical problems and was extremely surprised at how often the answer was “yes.”

As physicians we have daily encounters with patients who have a myriad of conditions that affect driving safety, and these can be multiple and severe.  Well-recognised conditions that cause driving impairment include dementia, diabetes, stroke, ABI, epilepsy, sleep apnoea and cardiac disease. Conditions less often considered by health professionals with respect to impact on driving safety, are substance abuse and severe mental illness.  These conditions can be linked and manifest as permanent acquired brain injury as well as acute intoxication.

Our legal obligations as doctors vary from state to state. In all Australian jurisdictions at present, the onus is on the driver to self-notify the state licensing authorities of significant health conditions and impairments.  Medical reporting is discretionary in most jurisdictions and anyone making a report (including a doctor) is protected from legal action if notifications are made in good faith.  However, in SA and NT it is mandatory for doctors to report potentially unfit drivers to the licensing authority. Patients rely on us for this information, so we have an ethical obligation and duty of care to discuss driving impairment risk, for their own safety as well as the wider community.

Furthermore, these discussions need to be documented, and patients and carers made aware of their potential liability in the event of death, injury or property damage arising from driving against advice.  Essential information is contained in state licensing authority websites and the national guidelines Assessing Fitness to Drive.

In my experience, raising the issue of driving risk is well received by family and carers and also sometimes by patients themselves.  This is something we can learn to do well as physicians through collaboration with colleagues in general practice, forensic medicine, allied health and licensing authorities.  The College endorses incorporation of driving risk in the basic training curriculum.

Please contact me if you wish to discuss strategies for continuing education and facilitating partnerships with other stakeholders in this space.  I would also be pleased to attend your institution to present alongside forensic physicians and licensing authorities.

Natasha Cook MBBS (Hons) FRACP PhD
Nephrologist and General Physician, Austin Health


New survey about Victorian doctors’ end-of-life decision-making

Victorian doctors in specialties likely to be involved in end-of-life decisions are being surveyed about their decision-making practices. Researchers from the NHMRC-funded Centre of Research Excellence in End-of-Life Care are conducting a study to determine what sort of end-of-life decisions are being made by doctors, how often these decisions occur and for what sort of patients.

At present, there are no up-to-date, representative Australian data describing the frequency and nature of medical end-of-life decisions, and the characteristics of patients about whom such decisions are made. The research aims to provide an evidence base to understand current medical practice in Victoria including the extent to which palliative care is provided to patients at the end of life. Findings from this research will also inform improvements in the quality of end-of-life care.

A sample of Victorian doctors will be contacted from 9 April by the AMA’s Australia Medical Publishing Company (AMPCo) to invite them to complete a survey.  The survey can be completed in hard copy or online.  Participating doctors who complete their survey before 16 May will go into the draw for one of three prizes to the value $100, in fine wine, or a donation to a registered charity of your choice.

If you have any queries about this research, please feel free to contact Dr Rachel Feeney The research team is grateful for the time and insight of the doctors who support this research by completing this survey.

life care

Your Trainees' Committee: Victorian & Tasmanian Trainees’ Committee

doctor-iconThe Victorian Tasmanian Trainees Committee (VTTC) is a forum for Victorian and Tasmanian Basic and Advanced trainees. The VTTC advocates for Victorian and Tasmanian trainees at the state and national levels in a number of domains including training, assessment, education, promoting research, professional development and workforce. It also advocates for trainee wellbeing and provides an unbiased forum for trainees to raise their issues and concerns.

The VTTC has nominated Dr Louise Segan and Dr Davina Buntsma as the new Co-Chairs of the Committee. The Committee encourages trainees to contact us with any issues or suggestions about improvements to the training experience.

If you would like to speak to one of our committee members directly please view the current membership list and contact details. Alternatively, you can bring anything to the attention of the committee by emailing us.


The Victorian Integrated Cancer Services (VICS) Conference 

The fourth VICS Conference will be held from Thursday, 9 to Friday, 10 May 2019 at the Melbourne Convention Centre. It will provide the opportunity for health services, clinicians, researchers and consumers to come together to learn about current and emerging work being undertaken in the cancer sector and build connections across the cancer community.We are pleased to announce the following world-renowned cancer specialists as speakers:
  • Professor Gail Garvey
  • Professor Theresa Wiseman
  • Professor Bernard Rachet
  • Professor David W. Kissane
  • Charlotte Rush
  • Lisa Briggs
  • Dr Belinda Lee
  • Professor Paul Cashin

The AMA Victoria Medical Career Expo

The AMA Victoria Medical Career Expo taking place on Saturday, 11 May at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, brings together hospitals with medical students making the big step into internship, through to doctors in training navigating specialist pathways or redefining careers.

Interested medical trainees can speak directly with RACP members and staff at the event, to learn more about the RACP Training Pathways and have their questions answered.

It is extremely useful to have members from across the various RACP Divisions, Faculties and Chapters available to answer the questions or prospective physician trainees and provide them with resources. We are always looking for Fellows and trainees to represent the College and speak directly to the next generation of physicians at this event for an hour or two. If this is something of interest to you, please let us know. 

Supervisors Professional Development Program (SPDP) workshops

SPDP W 2 – Teaching and Learning in Healthcare Settings: Albury Wodonga Hospital: Saturday, 25 May 2019

Teaching and Learning in Healthcare Settings provides a range of teaching strategies to manage and overcome challenges supervisors face in a complex healthcare setting. These strategies include planning for learning, differentiated instructions for multi-level groups, and using teaching techniques such as questioning. Email us to register

This workshop explores some cultural aspects that may impact on learning, including the hidden curriculum, tribalism and the need for effective role modelling.


  • Outline the challenges supervisors face in the healthcare setting
  • Identify the strategies supervisors can use to maximise teaching opportunities
  • Evaluate personal attitudes, beliefs and behaviour and its influence on supervisory practice
  • Assess workplace culture issues that can affect education experiences

SPDP W 3 Work based Learning and Assessment: Footscray Hospital: Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Work-based learning and assessment is a complex and necessary part of physician training. The challenges of undertaking work-based learning and assessment amidst the complexities of the healthcare environment are many and varied. This workshop offers techniques and solutions to these challenges that will help supervisors in their vital role. Email us to register


  • Discuss the purpose and importance of work-based learning and assessment
  • Analyse the process of planning for learning and assessment
  • Identify the challenges and solutions associated with work-based assessment in a complex environment
  • Draw on evidence of learning and achievement to determine overall performance and progression

Host a SPDP face to face workshop

Contact your local Member Support Officer or the Supervisor Learning Support (SLS) unit for assistance in organising a workshop at your local site or upcoming specialty Annual Scientific Meeting.

Contact Supervisor Learning Support if you are interested in hosting a SPDP workshop.


Become a SPDP online course / face to face workshop facilitator

SPDP workshop facilitators are RACP Fellows who are interested in medical education and facilitating skill-based workshops with their peers. They plan, manage and provide guidance for SPDP workshops to ensure each workshop is:

  • credible - physicians are best placed to facilitate training for their peers
  • focused on supervisor needs - ensure relevancy to supervisors from all training programs
  • accessible and flexible - flexible and adaptable workshop design which can be held at ASM and in local settings.

Basic Training Orientation recap

BT OrientationAs the voyage begins into the first three-year Basic Physician Training Program, RACP Victoria hosted its annual Basic Training Orientation morning on Saturday, 16th March.

The session was a great success with 55+ Basic Trainees attending. The morning started with a healthy breakfast followed by presentations from the RACP Member Support Officer, Kerrianne Singleton, Dr Anastasia Castle of the Victorian and Tasmanian Trainees Committee, Dr Dov Degen, DPE of Maroondah Hospital and Dr Jessica Fairley from the Alfred Hospital.

Each presenter offered expert advice to the trainees on navigating through the program and providing trainees with the knowledge to not just survive the challenges of study and working, but thrive in it, recognise new opportunities and propel their career forward.

One of the most important presentations of the day was Physician Health and Wellbeing presented by Dr Degen. Dr Degen is an active mental health advocate for SANE Australia and beyondblue. Dr Degen spoke openly and honestly about his own struggles with mental health as well as providing some excellent advice on how to recognise issues not only within yourself but within your colleagues, family and friends. 


Applications for RACP Foundation Research Awards 2020

Applications for Research funding for 2020 offered through the RACP Foundation opened Wednesday, 1 May 2019. Upwards of 50 awards with a total value of $2.5M are available across the different categories: 

Most awards are open to Fellows and trainees across Australia and New Zealand. Please refer to the RACP Foundation website for information on specific eligibility requirements for each award.

Do you want to be kept updated about awards? Email the RACP Foundation to sign up for updates.

Trainee Research Awards

The Trainee Research Awards provide a wonderful opportunity for trainees to present their research at a regional event. Trainees selected at each regional event will have the opportunity to present at the RACP Congress 2020.

Last year’s selected Victorian representatives presented at the Research and Innovation Showcase at the RACP Congress 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand:

Dr Jessica Fairley 
Topic: Magnesium status and therapy in cardiac surgery: A systematic review and meta-analysis focusing on arrhythmia prevention

Dr Natalie Morgan 
Topic: A whole-of-country analysis of antimicrobial stewardship resources, activities and barriers for children in hospitals in Australia

Applications for this year’s Trainee Research Awards are open from Monday 1 July to Friday 30 August 2019. Please send your abstract submissions or inquiries by email to

RACP Ethics e-Learning Resources

The RACP has developed a suite of eLearning resources available to members covering a range of topics related to ethical behaviour and decision making in a professional context.

Topics covered include:

The learning package is structured to provide a comprehensive overview of both conceptual and applied ethics in a real-world context which will assist members in their daily practice both in the public and private sectors.

The modules include:

  • Introduction to ethics
  • Ethics in professional practice
  • Ethical Issues in healthcare: Decision making capacity and consent. Legalities of consent.
  • Continuous engagement with ethics

Additional resources related to both professional and clinical ethics are provided throughout the learning package and are available through the RACP Curated Collection. In addition to being a valuable reference resource the eLearning module is eligible for CPD credits, with a certificate of completion available.

For any queries on Ethics related issues please contact:

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