Trainee News - June 2017

College Trainees' Committee Chair Update

Dr Tina Marinelli

Trainee health and wellbeing remain at the forefront for the College Trainees' Committee (CTC), and it is currently involved in developing a strategy dedicated to these issues with the RACP. I recently attended the JMO Wellbeing and Support Forum held in NSW, which was attended by delegates from various training colleges and representative groups. I was heartened to witness the attendees’ passion and commitment to providing trainees with a safe, happy and supportive working environment.

At the forum I also gained greater clarity about the issues that contribute to trainee health and wellbeing. One speaker aptly described the series of “repetitive micro-traumas”­­ – including unforgiving rosters, exam stress, inefficient systems and technology, social isolation, financial hardships, mental health disorders and fatigue – that can build up and affect even the most resilient of doctors. It became clear to me that there is no single solution that can improve the health and wellbeing of doctors, rather it requires a truly multifaceted approach. We need – along with training networks, the Government, the Colleges and our peers – to commit to prioritising trainee health. After all, we are in the business of healthcare, and that includes our health as well as that of patients.

In addition to this vital work, the members of the CTC hope to address issues that matter to trainees, and make clearer the workings of the RACP. We are currently discussing ways in which we can do this and welcome your feedback. If you have a question that you would like answered, or an issue that you would like us or your regional Trainees' Committee to address, please get in touch with us or contact your local RACP representative.

A Good Day for Trainees

Dr Tianhong Wu

The RACP Trainees’ Day 2017 was held the day before Congress on Sunday, 7 May at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Approximately 70 trainees from Australia and New Zealand registered for the event. Trainees came from the Adult Medicine Division, Paediatrics & Child Health Division and all Faculties and Chapters, and from different stages of training.

Professor Richard Doherty, the RACP Dean, opened discussions by highlighting the use and limitations of current methods of collecting and analysing workforce data, and its implications for trainees. This was echoed in the Priscilla Kincaid-Smith Oration given by Professor Brendan Murphy at Congress the following day. Professor Murphy identified the future workforce as a major healthcare challenge in Australia. These discussions are ongoing and show the high level of engagement by the College in training and career pathways for future physicians, and it is vital for trainees to be a part of the dialogue.

The rest of the day featured a diverse range of programs relevant to training, wellbeing, clinical practice and physician engagement with the community. Three experienced clinicians led an interactive workshop on the theme of medical care towards the end of life and its limitations, an issue that many trainees at different stages in their training find challenging. Dr Amanda Sillcock, a  Fellow of the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, enlightened us on the little-known effects of mobile device screens on the human circadian rhythm, as well as the general effects of sleep (or the lack thereof) on health. A reminder for  trainees as well as the patients for whom we care.

All of the sessions were excellent and unique in theme and delivery. Participants gave glowing reviews of a session on the clinical leadership skills needed by junior registrars, and a session on cognitive bias in clinical decision-making. The audience was equally inspired by the two energetic and engaging trainees, Dr Linny Phong and Dr Kudzai Kanhutu, who presented on their perspectives and experiences as leaders, change-makers and influencers; as well as a presentation from Dr Suman Majumdar FRACP, who embarked on extraordinary journeys in global health.

Trainees’ Day concluded with a dinner at Munich Brauhaus alongside the Yarra River, where attendees connected through their unique yet common experiences as physician trainees, over Bavarian fare.

Trainees' Day 2017 at a Glance:

  • Approximately 70 registrations.

  • Nine sessions, including  four concurrent sessions.

  • Four sessions focusing on aspects of clinical practice.

  • Two sessions on leadership, community health and global health.

  • Two sessions on practical skill building.

  • One session on the future prospects of training and the workforce.

  • One social dinner.

  • ​Plenty of inspiration, discussion and connections.

RACP Trainees’ Day 2017 was made possible due to the generous sponsorship from Avant and Sanofi.


Five reasons to find a mentor

Dr Susannah Ward

1. Sometimes you just need to phone a friend.

It’s a relief to speak with someone you trust about tough issues. As doctors we often need support that our colleagues are not able to provide. Ideally, a mentor is someone you feel comfortable talking to about what’s on your mind. 

2. Our cognitive biases can get in the way of perceiving reality.

An external perspective can be very enlightening and help you see a situation clearly. Calling on a mentor can provide you with neutral advice from someone who has your best interest at heart, even if they say something that you may not want to hear.

3. Supervisors are not mentors.

We all have mandatory training supervisors but they won’t necessarily fulfil the role of a mentor. A supervisor supports a trainee by helping to plan and facilitate learning opportunities, and providing feedback on progress and achievement; a mentor should be familiar with the work and career of a trainee and able to serve as an adviser and role model. Mentors can support your wellbeing and improve your training experience.

4. Medicine is stressful.

It’s common to find medical training stressful and no-one expects you manage the stress alone. A mentor can help guide you through the stressors of training and steer you to success. 

5. Expect the unexpected.

Few trainees float through training unscathed by challenges. You may not feel that you need a mentor right now, but identifying a suitable mentor will make sure you have support in place if unexpected challenges arise.

If you would like to further explore trainee perspectives on the issues and benefits of the mentoring relationship, check out Episode 7 of the RACP's Pomegranate Health podcast.

Did you know the College offers an award to mentor of the year? Find more information on how to nominate your mentor.

Preparing for computer-based testing: Divisional Written Examinations 2018 

The RACP is moving to computer-based testing for the 2018 Divisional Written Examinations to provide a modern, secure, robust and reliable service. Details about these improvements were sent to members in April 2017. In response to initial feedback from members, we have now published a series of FAQs to help trainees prepare for the new examination format.

RACP Awards and Prizes

RACP Trainee Research Awards for Excellence

The Trainee Research Awards for Excellence competition is held annually to acknowledge trainee research in the fields of adult medicine and paediatric medicine, and is open to all trainees in the Divisions, Faculties and Chapters. Submissions will be accepted from different regions at different times, so please check when your region will be open. 
Read more about the Trainee Research Awards for Excellence.

Jameson Investigator Award for Research Related to Indigenous Health Issues

The Jameson Investigator Award for Research Related to Indigenous Health Issues is awarded to the best oral research presentation made at the Queensland State Committee Research Presentation evening.
Read more about the Jameson Investigator Award for Research related to Indigenous health issues.

Gerry Murphy Prize

Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) trainees are invited to apply for the Gerry Murphy Prize. Regional finalists will represent their region in a national competition. 
Read more about the Gerry Murphy Prize.

Adrian Paul Prize

Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine (AFRM) trainees are invited to apply for the Adrian Paul Prize, awarded annually for the best scientific work in the field of rehabilitation medicine submitted as part of the Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine (AFRM) training program. 
Read more about the Adrian Paul Prize.  

T C Butler and F R T Stevens Prize

Tasmanian trainees are invited to apply for the T C Butler and F R T Stevens Prize, awarded for work related to medical or clinical conditions or illnesses that affect vulnerable groups, which has been completed in Tasmania. 
Read more about the TC Butler and F R T Stevens Prize.   

RACP Foundation Awards

The following awards recognise Fellows and trainees for excellence and outstanding contributions or achievements. Nominations are now being accepted for:

The John Sands College Medal  
RACP Medal for Clinical Service in Rural and Remote Areas 
RACP International Medal
Howard Williams Medal
RACP Mentor of the Year
RACP Trainee of the Year

RACP Research Development and Study Awards

Research Development Scholarships
Research Entry Scholarships
Education Development Grants Round 2

Visit the RACP College and Congress Prizes page for more information.

Now available: new eLearning resources

We have recently launched a series of new resources on our eLearning portalPhysician Self-Care and Wellbeing, Creating a Safe Workplace, Training Support, and Methamphetamine. These multimedia resources are grounded in real life experiences of trainees and supervisors to ensure their relevance and real world applicability. You can follow your own path through the resources and set your own pace, so sign up and learn at your leisure.

Read more about the new resources


Coming soon: the new Learning Needs Analysis tool

This September, the RACP will introduce the new and improved Learning Needs Analysis (LNA) tool, which we have developed in response to user feedback. We have selected this launch date to minimise the impact of the change on trainees, given ​your rotation schedules and submission trends. Details about the improvements and how to use the tool will be sent to you closer to the time. 

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