New South Wales / Australian Captial Territory – August 2017

A message from the NSW/ACT State Committee Chair

Welcome to the second edition of the New South Wales (NSW) / Australian Capital Territory (ACT) State eNewsletter for 2017. 

This has been a busy and exciting year with a number of activities completed and underway. Most recently we held a medicinal cannabis event with guest speakers Dr John Lawson and Professor Jennifer Martin. This was an informative evening with all attendees providing great feedback and engaging in discussion. I thank Dr Lawson and Professor Martin for their time and contribution, and all those who attended.

The RACP has partnered with Converge International offering a 24/7 helpline for all trainees and Fellows. Converge has recently developed an app ‘EAP Connect’ that provides access to information, support, and practical solutions for issues that impact your work, health, and life — directly on your mobile device. To download the app search ‘EAP Connect’ in your app store. 

An event has been planned for our ACT members on Tuesday, 3 October with guest speakers Dr Paul Kelly (ACT Chief Health Officer), Dr Ahmad Farshid (cardiologist) and Professor Christopher Nolan (endocrinologist) who will be presenting on obesity. Please join us for this exciting event and send your RSVP to 

I am excited to announce that the annual NSW/ACT RACP Trainee Research Awards for Excellence will be held on Thursday, 16 November from 6pm. These awards are recognised within the research sector and previous representatives have found the experience to be rewarding. The opportunity to gain experience in presenting research and the confidence built through acknowledgement by Fellows and peers has opened opportunities for further career development for participating trainees. Abstracts close Thursday, 28 September. 

I would also like to welcome two new members, Dr Kim Hobbs and Dr Peter Marantos, to the Committee and thank them for their interest and participation. 

Professor Stephen Clarke 
Chair, NSW/ACT State Committee

A message from the NSW/ACT Trainees’ Committee Co-Chairs

The NSW/ACT Trainees’ Committee has been busy running a number of educational events for trainees over the past months. 

Most recently, the inaugural Paediatric Advanced Trainee Orientation was held in June in Sydney. This event was aimed at Basic Trainees who are soon to become Advanced Trainees and gave practical information about completing Advanced Training smoothly.

We heard from Dr Hala Katf, the Immediate Past-Chair of the Advanced Training Committee in General Paediatrics about the requirements for General Paediatrics and were lucky to be able to have current Chair, Dr Lydia Garside, join our Q&A panel at the end of the evening. 

We also heard from Professor Nick Wood, member of the RACP Paediatric Research Committee, about the research project requirements and tips for undertaking research during Advanced Training. Dr Bec Nogajski gave an excellent overview of getting the most out of Advanced Training. 

We strive to organise events relevant to trainees such as the inaugural Private Practice Forum which will be held later this year.

We are pleased to advised that we have filled our vacancies and welcome Dr Petria Carter as AFRM representative and Dr Jonathan Baird-Gunning as ACT representative.

The NSW/ACT Trainees’ Committee continues to advocate for RACP trainees in NSW and ACT. We encourage all trainees in NSW/ACT to engage with the committee and bring forward any issues, comments or queries to us via email at

Dr Phoebe Stewart 
Paediatric Co-Chair
NSW/ACT Trainee Committee

Dr Rihan Shahab
Adult Co-Chair
NSW/ACT Trainee Committee

Embracing clinical genomics for better health

NSW-wuClinical Genomics is a new and rapidly expanding field, which uses whole genome sequencing to inform patients of their genomic makeup and assist in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

Dr Kathy Wu is Clinical Lead at Australia’s one-of-its-kind Clinical Genomics Unit, based at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney; one of the few in the world that offers publicly-funded whole genome sequencing.

“Our centre is just like a traditional genetics unit, with the additional capacity to offer whole genome sequencing as a mainstream diagnostic tool,” says Dr Wu.

Traditional genetic testing analyses one gene at a time, whereas genomic testing analyses multiple genes, or the entire genome made up of approximately 25,000 genes, at once. 

The Clinical Genomics Unit works closely with the genomic laboratory, Genome.One, a world-class genomic testing facility based at the Garvan Institute, to undertake whole genome sequencing using blood or buccal swab samples. 

Dr Wu’s work involves prioritizing and facilitating genomic testing, with either targeted analysis of a panel of candidate genes, or analysis of the entire genomic sequence, to identify causative variants or mutations. The process takes three months, and the genomic sequence may be stored indefinitely, so that it can be reanalysed in the future as the field continues to evolve. 

Dr Wu says clinicians are beginning to recognise the potential that genome sequencing can offer in terms of improving diagnosis and treatment outcomes, not only for rare diseases, but also for a broader range of diseases which may have novel, previously un-recognised, gene-disease associations. Pharmacogenomics is another potential that can be leveraged using genomic technology, by simultaneously screening for multiple actionable genetic variants that alter individual drug responses across approximately 200 medications.

One example Dr Wu gave was of a young, athletic patient with newly-diagnosed diabetes who was commenced on insulin. Through genomic testing, it was identified the patient had Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY), which is known to respond better to sulfonylurea than to insulin. Since this diagnosis, his endocrinologist changed his treatment from insulin to oral sulfonylurea. This has improved his clinical outcome: his glycaemic control was much improved; and furthermore, unnecessary insulin treatment, that may potentially be associated with morbidity or even mortality, was avoided.

There are however limitations as well as potential harms associated with whole genome sequencing. Dr Wu therefore strongly believes that a multidisciplinary approach, involving genetics professionals, clinicians, laboratory staff, as well as researchers, will address many of these challenges. As clinical genomics continues to evolve, Dr Wu believes that it will offer a broad scope of opportunities for RACP trainees in both the clinical and research settings. 

Dr Kathy Wu is a member of the NSW/ACT State Committee. 

Private practice neurologist driving quality patient care

Historically Australia’s medical industry had fewer regulations, administrative duties and registration requirements for health care workers. Physicians were able to run their own practices, be in complete control and stay on top of the many demands that come with their position.

As the medical industry has evolved over time, the demands placed on physicians have increased tremendously, particularly in terms of the complexity of medical care and administrative duties.
Sydney Neurologist, Dr Ron Granot, recognised these demands but saw private practice as an attractive option for balancing his work and family commitments. 

Despite the expenses and added stress that comes with setting up a practice, Dr Granot says “the autonomy, flexibility and independence were positive factors” that he considered when making the decision to move from the hospital setting to private practice.

Running his own office, setting up the schedule, infrastructure and support systems provided opportunities for Dr Granot to learn new skills in business and information technology, which he likely would not have been exposed to in the hospital setting.

This led Dr Granot to develop his own practice management software to keep up with his administrative duties. He is now able to quickly record notes and turn them into outbound correspondence digitally. 
Dr Granot now has more time to spend with his patients, who he usually sees over a long period of time. He says that continuity of care is one of the most rewarding aspects of private practice and is “part of the joy of practicing medicine and being a physician”.

Coming from the hospital setting, Dr Granot had the perception that private practice would focus primarily on routine and non-urgent care, however, his experience has been quite different.  He sees many unusual, acute and complex cases walking through the door each day, so there is never a dull moment.

“Private practice is extremely busy and hard work but ultimately highly rewarding”, says Dr Granot. 

He encourages physicians who are thinking of going into private practice to consider whether they enjoy working on their own, enjoy a lot of face to face patient contact, and whether they would be comfortable learning new skills to run a small business. 

Dr Ron Granot is a member of the NSW/ACT State Committee.

RACP NSW/ACT Out and about


ACT Medical Careers Expo – Tuesday, 16 May

Approximately 100 medical students attended this event at Canberra Hospital. College representatives met and discussed future training opportunities with potential trainees and it was a great opportunity to discuss their career plans with them. 

Paediatric Advanced Training Orientation – Thursday, 29 June

Trainees entering Paediatric Advanced Training in NSW were provided the opportunity to listen and learn from a panel of Paediatric Fellows and gain insights into Advanced Training at this event. Presenters included Dr Hala Katf, Associate Professor Nicholas Wood and Dr Bec Nogajski, each focusing on different aspects of Advanced Training such as what to expect in training, the RACP College project and making the most of your time as a trainee. 

Australian Medical Students Association National Convention Careers Exhibition – Thursday, 6 July

With over 1,300 tickets sold the 2017 Convention was the largest on record. Medical students from all years of study were keen to learn more about physician training, the entry requirements for Basic Training and the various services offered by the College for trainees. 

Upcoming events

news-tra-2017NSW/ACT RACP Trainee Research Awards for Excellence – Apply today

Apply now. Submissions close Thursday, 28 September

The RACP Trainee Research Awards for Excellence competition is held to select State, Territory and New Zealand representatives to present their research work in Sydney in May 2018. 

Two trainees, one presenting in the field of adult medicine and one presenting in the field of paediatric medicine, will be selected to represent NSW/ACT. 

Representatives will be given the opportunity to present their research in Sydney in May 2018 and will receive the following benefits:

  • return economy class airfares from the place of nomination
  • accommodation for three nights (including breakfast) 
  • complimentary registration including Trainees' Day (if still a trainee)
  • Congress Gala Dinner or Paediatrics & Child Health Division Dinner.

Trainees from all RACP Divisions, Faculties and Chapters are eligible to apply. Abstracts should be submitted to using the abstract template.

All members are invited to attend the NSW/ACT competition which will be held on:

Date: Thursday, 16 November 2017
Time: 6pm
Cost: Free
Venue: RACP Sydney, Fairley Room, Level 9, 52 Phillip Street, Sydney
Registration: To register your attendance please email 

Go to the RACP Trainee Research Awards for Excellence page for more information, including abstract submission information.

New cancer clinic opens in Sutherland Shire

The Southside Cancer Care Centre was officially opened on Tuesday, 25 July. The Centre offers oncology treatment as well as complementary services including an onsite compound pharmacy and pathologists.

The Centre is also participating in two clinical trials. One is an international trial, with RACP Fellow Professor Paul de Souza FRACP, which will determine if there is added benefit in giving a combination of two immounotherapy drugs rather than one (the trial is open to patients with advanced or metastic solid tumours). The second trial pertains to bladder cancer, with Dr Patricia Bastick, and is being run in conjunction with the University of Sydney to look at the benefits of certain drug combination.

Sutherland Shire has the second-highest cancer incidence rate of all cancers across the Sydney basin.
Mayor of the Sutherland Shire, Cr. Carmelo Pesce, The Hon. Scott Morrison MP, Mr Tony Noun Chairman of Cancer Care Associates, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC Governor of New South Wales, Mrs Hurley, Mr Damien Williams Chief Operating Office of Cancer Care Associates, cancer patient Mr Roderick Haynes, Dr Paul Downe, Mrs Roderick Haynes, Professor Paul de Souza FRACP and Ms Angela Whittingham, Centre Manager​.

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