The President's Message – 19 August 2022
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land. We would also like to pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.
One of our core tasks as a College, is to train the physicians of tomorrow. Our 9,000 trainees across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand are a very important part of our membership. But for those in training, the College can be a challenging place to get to know and to build connections.
With numerous committees and leadership positions, it can be a confusing organisation to navigate when you’re starting a career in specialist medicine. In fact, trainees play an important part in leading the organisation. There’s a trainee representative Director on the Board, Advanced Trainee, Dr Davina Buntsma.
And one of our most important peak committees is the College Trainees Committee. It’s a direct trainee voice to College decision makers, and to the Board, and is a valuable forum for us to hear firsthand from Basic and Advanced Trainees.
To discuss some of the key issues in the College for trainees, I’m joined by Dr Hashim (Hash) Abdeen, a Rheumatology Advanced Trainee in Queensland and Chair of the RACP Trainees’ Committee.
Jacki: Hash, good to see you.
I think it’s probably a good idea for you to introduce yourself and tell us something of your story of how you’ve come to be Chair of the College Trainees’ Committee, and perhaps your pathway as well.
Hash: So my pathway to the College, I started as an intern and then as a physician trainee too. I am very much interested in physician training in adult medicine and I always wanted to be a cardiologist. My journey through the College Trainees’ Committee (CTC) really started regionally. I started with the Queensland Regional Committee, as a Basic Trainee member. I got really involved and interested in the issues that we were discussing. I was interested in the power behind the advocacy of the College and what the College did both at a regional level, and then had the opportunity to come to the national College Trainees’ Committee level.
From there, I kind of just moved up to the Deputy Chair position and then finally have taken over from Dr Davina Buntsma, who most of you will know as the new trainee representative on the Board.
Jacki: Perhaps you can also describe for us where the CTC sits in the College and the connection with the Regional Committees and the leadership that goes on in the different states, territories and of course in Aotearoa New Zealand as well.
Hash: The College Trainees’ Committee is a bi-national committee made up of the Chair, two Deputy Chairs, and an Aotearoa New Zealand Deputy Chair as well. We're made up of basically the all state and territory Regional Committee Trainee Chairs. That's how we feed up into the College's bodies.
We're a committee off the Board, so we have direct insight and input into the Board overall. That gives us really the trainee voice as being strong and central to the College overall.
Jacki: There are a number of issues that our College is looking at, at the moment that have been issues of concern for trainees for some time. Perhaps you can just tell us a little bit about what some of the top issues and concerns are for trainees.
Hash: Thanks Jacki, so more recently, we've obviously been talking about gender equity within medicine and how our College promotes this. Really, that talks to for trainees, the flexible training policy. We're looking at ways of how to better adapt our flexible training policy to make the guidelines for trainees as flexible as possible to get through both their Basic and Advanced Training and looking at other training pathways as well within our College.
Another issue that we're looking into is safe training environments. So we’re looking at how we can better address the issues around bullying, discrimination and harassment in our College.
Jacki: Hash, it's really pleasing, and of course entirely appropriate, that trainees are taking a really important leadership role in some of these issues. But there's also a role for Fellows right across the lifespan of our professional life, isn't there, in engaging in some of these important issues?
Hash: Yeah, I think it's a whole cross-College, both for trainees, all the way to early-career Fellows and senior Fellows. We all have a responsibility to our training and education environments, and I think it's great that the College is encouraging all members of the College to get involved.
Jacki: Hash, I understand why trainees might be particularly focused on specific issues related to their training and particularly the exams and the other assessments that might be required for their training program. But really, what we'd really like to move towards is a situation where trainees really see themselves part of a lifelong profession – engaging in a range of activities, whether it's research, advocacy, or networking more widely.
What's your insight into how the College might support that progressive transformation for the trainees?
Hash: I think the College is really looking at how we can better support our trainees to have a fulsome career as a physician overall. That's why we've been looking at the future of physician training – there is a Working Group looking into this. We're trying to make a well-rounded physician that is best as a community and that has many facets including leadership skills, advocacy skills and research skills that makes a whole clinician.
Jacki: You've also looked to be building networks with trainees from outside the College across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand they might be training in different parts of medicine or even surgery but also internationally. How do some of those connections enrich the life of our trainees and the leadership on behalf of trainees in our College?
Hash: As you highlighted, training pathways across the 16 different colleges that we have in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand really have similar issues when it comes to education training. I mean we're talking about that pandemic and the impacts on burnout and wellbeing of our trainees. Really, this is across the board.
We’re looking at other colleges and talking to other college training committee chairs, looking internationally, to the Royal College of Physicians in the United Kingdom and also the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland, and talking to their trainees and their committees about what they're doing to best support trainees and Fellows as well.
Jacki: There's a lot that we still need to do and achieve, and a lot of work is underway, but that will take continued engagement, leadership and guidance from trainees, particularly in matters that relate to them. But increasingly, we want to see trainees engaging in the wider experiences that the College has to offer.
Hash: Thank you for having the CTC Chair in your message. I think that really signals to us, as trainees, that our voice is important to the College and to the Senior Leadership Team in the College.
Jacki: Thank you Hash and thank you for your time.
If you're a trainee, I'd encourage you to become actively involved in your College. Join the RACP trainees’ Facebook group and start or participate in discussions in the trainees’ forum on The ROC, the RACP Online Community. Use the College Trainees’ Committee to raise concerns or issues, just as Fellows are members, so are you, and the RACP is your College too.
Stay safe and thank you for watching.
Dr Jacqueline Small
To contact the President, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Trainees and first year Fellows, time is running out for you submit your abstract. Don’t delay – there are many opportunities to be awarded
The annual RACP Trainee Research Awards are open, with submissions accepted until Wednesday, 31 August. Winners will be selected from each Australian state/territory and from Aotearoa New Zealand. They will be invited to present at RACP Congress 2023 and have their abstracts published in the Internal Medicine Journal or the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health.
Trainees and new Fellows undertaking post-Fellowship training with the RACP are encouraged to apply.
For information about eligibility, selection criteria, the abstract submission, and applying, please view this webpage. Hurry, submissions close Wednesday, 31 August 2022.
Submit your abstract
The RACP is proud to be part of the Raise the Age campaign, as a member of the campaign’s National Steering Group. Recently, the Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Linda Burney, and the Federal Attorney General Mark Dreyfus accepted a 200,000 strong petition from the Raise the Age campaign, calling for governments across the country to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least 14. The delivery of the petition received wide-spread positive media coverage including in News Ltd publications.
RACP President, Dr Jacqueline Small, recently addressed a meeting of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC). This comprised of Chief Health and Medical Officers nationally, many of whom are RACP Fellows. Dr Small presented the findings of the RACP research report, Climate Change and Australia’s Healthcare systems, and outlined the public policy recommendations of the RACP’s Healthy Climate Future campaign.
Dr Small also recently spoke at the AMA National Conference about the RACP’s climate change and health advocacy in a panel which also featured RACP Fellows, Dr Arnagretta Hunter and Dr Kate Charlesworth.
The RACP has been engaging with members of the new Federal Parliament with an active interest in climate and health. Recently, one of the parliament’s new independents Dr Sophie Scamps put a question to Federal Health Minister Mark Butler in Question Time regarding a national strategy on climate change and health – a key policy recommendation of the Healthy Climate Future campaign, which is endorsed by 10 medical colleges.
The Minister stated he has requested advice from the Health Department on the delivery of this strategy. We will continue to campaign, in partnership with other medical colleges, to ensure the strategy is evidence-based, comprehensive, resourced and timely.
The RACP Board governs the College by acting in the best interests of all members while observing all legal and regulatory requirements and high standards in relationships with regulators, stakeholders, and the community in which the College operates.
The Member Director provides consultative advice and support to the College Board, President, Chief Executive Officer, and the Senior Leadership Team to ensure transparency and fairness in all procedural matters. This position also assists in aligning governance of the College to the College’s Strategic Plan, and in supporting the College President in providing leadership - particularly with respect to College members.
Fellows with demonstrated experience in leadership are invited to submit an expression of interest (EOI) by Wednesday, 24 August 2022.
Read more and submit an EOI
The College submission to the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority’s (IHPA) annual consultation on the Pricing Framework for Australian Public Hospital Services 2023-2024 addresses impacts of COVID-19, classifications used to describe, and price public hospital services. It also addresses adjustments to the National Efficient Price, as well as National Efficient Cost and innovative funding models and service integration.
IHPA has also opened a new public web-based portal, the National Benchmarking Portal (NBP). The portal provides access to insights on public hospital costs and activity data collected by IHPA. It aims to make data more transparent and enhance policy decisions and patient outcomes. Insights presented in the portal allow users to draw comparisons between hospitals, local hospital networks, and states and territories.
For more information, watch the IHPA video on how to navigate the portal.
The Australian Department of Health and the COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce have issued important updates about COVID-19 vaccinations for children.
- National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce updates
- Spikevax (Moderna) vaccine for children six months to five years old
- Rollout of COVID-19 vaccination for children aged six months to under five years
- COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged five to 11 years
Eric Susman Prize
The Eric Susman Prize is presented by the College for the best contribution to the knowledge of any branch of internal medicine (adult medicine and paediatrics). Nominations close Thursday, 15 September 2022.
The deserving Fellow will have demonstrated an outstanding and lasting contribution in the areas of research, teaching and/or clinical medicine. Details regarding the application process and selection criteria are available on the website.
College Awards and Medals
If you know someone deserving of recognition for their outstanding contributions and achievements, now is the time to nominate them for these prestigious College Awards:
Nominations close Friday, 30 September 2022.
Full details are available on the RACP Foundation website. You may also email the RACP Foundation with enquiries.
COVID-19 continues to challenge our profession. It’s important we understand its impacts on physician training so we can support our trainees and educators. Tell us about your recent training experiences through one of the following surveys.
Physician Training Survey (PTS)
Trainees in Aotearoa New Zealand along with educators across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand are invited to complete the Physician Training Survey (PTS)*. On 23 August 2022, you will receive an email from external research provider, Big Village, with your unique survey link.
Medical Training Survey (MTS)
Trainees in Australia are invited to provide their feedback through the Medical Board of Australia’s Medical Training Survey (MTS). This survey is now open and can be accessed via the link at the end of the Ahpra re-registration process.
Why you should participate
The RACP and training settings use survey results to build on successes and prioritise areas for improvement. Your anonymity is protected through reporting thresholds. Sufficient responses allow results to be anonymously reported to training settings and specialty training committees - every response counts.
The RACP works closely with training settings where there are concerns about workload, wellbeing, and workplace culture and requests local leaders to demonstrate how the concerns are being addressed.
For information about the survey, visit the Physician Training Survey or the Medical Training Survey webpages or contact the Training Survey team at email@example.com.
If you have any concerns or complaints about the conduct of the research study, you may contact the Executive Officer of the Ethics Committee, at SLHDfirstname.lastname@example.org or on +61 2 9767 5622.
*The Physician Training Survey has been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) – Concord Repatriation General Hospital of the Sydney Local Health District 2019/ETH12472.
Dr Sean George is a volunteer Supervisor Professional Development Program (SPDP) facilitator who has been an integral part of the SPDP roll out for many years. He has a particular passion for teaching supervisors through the SPDP 3 – Teaching and Facilitating Learning for Safe Practice workshop.
Why do you facilitate SPDP workshops?
I found the SPDP 3 workshop very useful when I did it several years ago. I noticed that by facilitating this workshop, I could continue improving and changing for the better. As we have busy lives, knowing how best to incorporate education and assessment into the daily routine is very helpful.
What is the most enjoyable part of your role as an SPDP facilitator?
I enjoy this workshop as its interactive and the different experiences around the room are amazing. I learn a lot from each interaction and come away with a richer experience.
Why do you think your colleagues should complete the SPDP workshops?
This workshop is a start to exploring how we can teach our trainees and assess them better. It results in deep reflection on our current practices and helps us to make positive change. I believe this workshop really opens your mind to the possibilities and variety of methodology to make the trainee experience so much more worthwhile.
We would like to thank Dr George for his continued support with the SPDP program.
About the SPDP
SPDP workshops provide supervisors with an opportunity to share their expertise with other supervisors and enhance and strengthen their supervisor skills. Register for a virtual, face-to-face, or online Supervisor Professional Development Program (SPDP) workshop.
The Australian Medical Council (AMC) and Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ) as accreditors of the College, require RACP supervisors to be trained. As such, the College Education Committee (CEC) supports the SPDP as the College’s supervisor training program.
The CEC has determined that all supervisors are required to:
- complete SPDP 3 by the end of 2022
- complete or claim exemption from SPDP 1 and 2 in line with your training setting’s next accreditation cycle (after 2022).
For more information, email the Supervisor Learning Support Team: email@example.com.
Episode 84: The ASD Odyssey
The average age at which autism spectrum disorder is detected four-years-old, though signs are often present well before that. Even where families and GPs may have concerns early in a child’s development, it can take one year or more for a consultation with a paediatrician to become available.
There are similar waiting lists to see other allied health and sub-specialists who may contribute opinions to a diagnosis. There is some inconsistency as to what kind of supporting documentation is required to access support services at different layers of government. The Autism Cooperative Research Centre published a national guideline with 70 recommendations to streamline this process and improve equity for families from different backgrounds and living in different parts of the country.
In this podcast, we hear from a GP and paediatrician working in regional practice about how this can help their patients receive early intervention in the critical developmental years. In part two, we get a response from the RACP's Chair of the Chapter of Community Child Health. about underlying structural challenges including the paediatric training curriculum and the NDIS.
- Dr Jo McCubbin FRACP (Fitzpatrick House, Sale, VIC)
- Dr James Best FRACGP (Junction Street Medical Centre, Nowra, NSW)
Listen to podcast
To be among the first to find out about the latest Pomegranate Health podcasts, subscribe to email alerts. You can also search for ‘Pomegranate Health’ in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Castbox, or any podcasting app. RACP Fellows can claim CPD credits for listening via MyCPD. For a transcript and further references, please visit our website.
The RACP offers an extensive collection of online learning resources designed to support members with their professional development and lifelong learning needs.
Assessing and diagnosing autism – an online course
This short online course is relevant for any key clinical professional supporting individuals and families through autism assessment and diagnosis.
The Implementing a National Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in Australia course explores the recommendations included within the National Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders. It delivers a consistent overview of the entire clinical pathway and deeper dives that highlight the role of key clinical professionals, from initiating a referral to sharing findings.
The learning framework and module objectives guide you through the Guideline recommendations, while allowing for self-directed and flexible learning. Also included are essential downloadable resources, such as templates, case study examples, and quick reference guides, to support future guideline implementation. You can also build skills by completing self-evaluation and reflection questions throughout the modules.
This course is ideal for clinicians interested in implementing a best practice, evidence-based approach within their clinical setting. Access it via The Resourceful Physician on RACP Online Learning.
Medical Standards for Driving Curated Collection
Physicians have a responsibility to ensure safety on our roads and assess fitness to drive in accordance with Australian and Aotearoa New Zealand national medical standards. This new Curated Collection provides a library of resources on medical standards for driving and how to effectively assess fitness to drive.
Don’t forget to claim CPD credits for time spent on RACP Online Learning.
A College partner, the Obesity Collective is a platform for committed individuals and organisations from across Australia to take on the obesity challenge together, with empathy and a whole of society perspective.
The Collective recently promoted a University of Sydney systematic review on the influence of mass media in weight stigmatisation and the media interventions to reduce stigma. The Collective has released a short insights video.
In July, the Collective produced a succinct position statement on whether obesity should be classified as a disease, concluding that obesity is heterogenous and involves a wide range of biological and environmental drivers. The Collective will continue to raise awareness of the science and reality of obesity through a social media campaign, ‘The Reality of Obesity’. Follow the Collective on Facebook and Twitter for more on the campaign.
RACP trainees and Fellows can now also register for the International Congress on Obesity in Melbourne. Held from 18 to 22 October, this is a valuable opportunity to link in with reputed speakers in the field.
You are invited to take part in the Practitioner Perspectives on Gender Diverse Identity Study, which explores the attitudes and beliefs around gender diversity within the healthcare community.
By agreeing to participate in the study, you will be asked to take part in an online survey that should take approximately 20 minutes to complete. To thank you for your time, you will also be invited to attend a webinar about how gender-diverse identities develop and evidence-based recommendations for practice. Recordings of the webinar and slide packs will be made available for practitioners who are unable to attend. For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Register for the study
The ROC (RACP Online Community) is a secure online forum and series of communities exclusively for all RACP Fellows and trainees. If you haven’t used this type of platform before, think of it as a virtual town hall for the entire College and a series of different online common rooms for different Divisions, Faculties and Chapters. Download the app from the App Store or Google Play, or log in via MyRACP.
Join the discussion on these trending topics:
You can also use the Member Directory in The ROC to connect with your peers.
Log in to The ROC
Webinars and online courses
- The Therapeutic Goods Administration statutory advisory committee vacancies webinar: Wednesday, 24 August
- The South Australian Physician’s Roundtable: Planning together for the next pandemic: Tuesday, 13 September, 6.30pm ACST
- The Population Health Congress 2022 and additional AFPHM events: Wednesday, 21 to Friday, 23 September
- Financial wellbeing webinar: Boost your financial health: Saturday, 24 September, 9am to 12pm AEST
- Financial wellbeing webinar: Succession and wealth legacy (keeping your money in the family): Thursday, 20 October, 7pm AEST
- The National Health Workforce Summit: Thursday, 27 to Friday, 28 October
Save the date
- New Fellows Forum: Thursday, 13 October, 7pm to 8.30 pm AEDT
- The RACP Health Reform Summit: Wednesday, 19 October, 9.30am to 4pm AEDT
Find more events
Read other RACP eBulletins:
Join the conversation in the ROC