Northern Territory — November 2018

A message from your Northern Territory (NT) Committee Chair

As I look back on 2018, I continue to be inspired by the work of the NT Regional Committee members and the wider cohort of NT Fellows and trainees.  This year we had a changeover of committee and we are fortunate to have had some solid foundations laid by past members, and a new and passionate committee to continue the great work.

The Committee is currently developing its workplan for the next two years.  With new members come new and fresh ideas and I look forward to exploring these over the coming weeks.  The Committee will continue to advocate in existing key areas and we have an ongoing commitment from the NT Health Minister to meet periodically throughout 2019.  As always, a priority for the Committee is education and the ongoing support of our trainees.

This year also saw the formation of the NT Trainees' Committee.  Chaired by Dr Rosie Rock and Dr Madeleine Venables, the Trainees' Committee has been instrumental in delivering several educational events such as Basic Training Orientation, a Basic Trainee Lecture Seminar, a Trainee Research Workshop and they also supported the Flinders University Careers Night.  The committee has highlighted within their work plan areas of advocacy such as the inclusion of Indigenous health topics in the curriculum and College Learning Series.

Recently, we hosted the 2018 NT Annual Scientific Meeting, themed Vulnerable Populations, in Darwin. The event was also streamed live to Fellows and trainees attending in the R.E.D. Centre at Alice Springs Hospital. 

The event began with two workshops; one on advocacy and one on arts in medicine.  The ASM program was outstanding with international and local expert speakers, in addition to the RACP Dean, Professor Richard Doherty, and Australasian Chapter of Sexual Health Medicine President, Dr Catherine O'Connor. 

The ASM also included presentations for the Trainee Research Awards and the Gerry Murphy Prize.  All presenting trainees did an outstanding job and congratulations to the winners.

The NT Committee Working Party is to be commended for producing yet another highly informative and successful ASM.

I look forward to an exciting year ahead and thank Fellows and trainees for their ongoing support.

Dr Rob Tait
Chair, 
NT Regional Committee

Engaging event examines vulnerable populations

Vulnerable populations were the focus of engaging presentations fronted by impressive local and international guest speakers at the 2018 Northern Territory Annual Scientific Meeting (NTASM) in Darwin on Friday, 26 and Saturday, 27 October.

Hosted by Dr Rob Tait, Chair of the RACP NT Committee, the event presented perspectives on healthcare from near and far, before returning home to focus on current issues in the Territory.

Visit our website to see photos from the event and read a comprehensive report, along with recaps of adjunct events, including:

Launch of new partnership to eliminate chronic Hepatitis B

Dr Jane Davies, Infectious Diseases & General Medicine Physician at Royal Darwin Hospital, and Senior Clinical Research Fellow at Menzies School of Health Research is leading an exciting project to eliminate chronic hepatitis B (CHB) from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the NT.

Dr Davies, also a member of the RACP NT Regional Committee says “we have the necessary tools in place to achieve elimination of CHB: an effective vaccine, effective antivirals, and long-term relationships between project partners and Indigenous communities.”

The Hep B PAST (Partnership Approach to Sustainably eliminating Chronic Hepatitis B in the NT) project has recently been awarded a $5.2 million grant by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and is supported by the NT Department of Health, which has contributed more than $3.2 million dollars over five years.

The partnership also includes Katherine West Health Board Aboriginal Corporation, Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation, the NT AIDS and Hepatitis Council and the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM).

Launched on 10 September by NT Minister for Health, the Honourable Natasha Fyles, the project has two overarching aims:

  1. to improve health literacy about HBV amongst indigenous communities, people living with HBV and primary healthcare providers
  2. improve the cascade of care for individuals living with CHB in the NT. 

Read more

Group Photo Hep B PAST Partners
A Group Photo Hep B PAST Partners

Dr Jane Davies and NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles
Dr Jane Davies and NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles

Physician in focus – Dr Richard Budd

Doctor Richard Budd began working as a respiratory and general medicine physician at Katherine Physician in focus - Dr Richard Budd Hospital in November 2016. Originally from the United Kingdom, Dr Budd completed his specialist training in South Yorkshire and is undertaking his PhD thesis on immune function in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). He works with two other physicians in Katherine to provide comprehensive general medical services to the Katherine Region.

The RACP NT team caught up with Dr Budd to learn more about his work. 

What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?

There are several aspects to my role that I love. Firstly the pathology in the Katherine region is incredibly interesting and varied. My ward round this morning involved managing multiple different cases including an acute myocardial infarction, seizure disorders with poor compliance, possible dermatomyositis, advanced rheumatic heart disease, an exacerbation of COPD, severe sepsis in a lady that receives dialysis but had missed two of her regular sessions and palliation of a patient with metastatic lung cancer. As the wet season approaches we then start to see more infectious disease.

The population I serve has a high disease burden complicated by some of the highest rates of homelessness in Australia. The actual population of the Katherine region is small but the land mass is large. To work here I have had to problem solve very complex medical and social issues with the support of partners in primary care and a number of non-government organisations (NGOs) based in the region. This leads to a wonderful collaborative approach to complex problem solving which is very rewarding.

The collaborative work I do is further enhanced by my outreach work to remote communities in the Katherine Region. I conduct outpatient appointments within my patients’ local clinics. This has dramatically improved attendance and engagement with the individuals I care for, but has also helped me to better understand the context of the social challenges of the population I serve. The visits to communities has allowed me to forge closer ties to primary healthcare staff and with my patients.

Finally, I feel privileged to work with aboriginal Australians. I have had the pleasure of continually learning about the culture of the local aboriginal people who speak over 30 different languages in the Katherine region. I am constantly learning about the complexities of health beliefs, traditional healing, spiritual beliefs and family dynamics. Many people who I see in regards to their chronic disease management have been kind enough to talk to and educate me about aspects of their culture while the hospital itself strives to provide regular cultural training to its staff.

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

The team, the people and amazing medicine. What job can you travel over tropical Australia by plane to do your outpatient clinics and practice such exciting medicine?

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

I tend to work a rotating pattern between inpatient care in the Katherine Hospital and then providing outreach general medicine and respiratory services to the Katherine Region.

My hospital days start with an 8am handover and ward round with my junior doctor and medical student team. We have a rolling education program for the mixed medical and surgical ward as well as regular education sessions for students and medical staff. There are regular MDT meetings that address complex discharge issues and while providing the inpatient care I have two outpatient clinics a week.

When I am out of hospital and on outreach I am often at the airport around 7.30am to then fly over tropical bush to get to isolated communities. Here I will see new referrals and follow up patients already known to myself. We travel with a specialist nurse and sonographer to enhance the services we can provide to our communities.

How do you manage work/life balance?

I make sure I take advantage of leave and use it to travel. I also enjoy the beautiful scenery and opportunities to hike, swim and canoe around the Top End. During the dry season there’s the perfect weather to take advantage of the outdoors as well as art and music festivals in indigenous communities. The wet season may be more hot and sticky but provides amazing weather that I can enjoy while sitting on my veranda watching lightning storms roll in of an evening. I make sure I exercise regularly which helps me to feel refreshed and focused when I’m at work.

Are there any patient success stories that you can share?

I feel the real success has been in engagement with individuals in our communities. Over the last two years myself and my physician colleagues have managed to provide general medical outreach services to the majority of our remote communities. By providing continuity of medical staff we have managed to build a degree of trust with our patients. Our DNA rates are improved and patients are more willing to come to hospital and stay for the duration of their treatment. This may seem a small thing but it is something I am very proud of and is a testament to the hard work of our doctors and nurses, the staff within our outpatient department as well the Specialist Outreach Services NT (SONT) who organise and fund our travel.

A Message from the NT Trainees Committee Co-Chair

This has been the inaugural year for the RACP NT Trainees’ Committee. We have seen membership grow throughout 2018 and exciting new ideas come to fruition. 

The committee was formed to advocate for local trainees and provide support and networking opportunities. 

There have been several successful events, including a Welcoming Night, Basic Training lecture series and Research Workshop. The ASM saw the Trainees' Committee hosting RACP Dean, Professor Richard Doherty, at a networking breakfast for NT trainees.

The committee is in a strong position heading into 2019 and welcomes new members, ideas and feedback.

Thank you from your co-chairs and training committee. 

Dr Madeleine Venables
Adult Medicine Co Chair

Interactive research workshop for Trainees

The NT Trainees’ Committee presented the Trainees' Research Workshop on Wednesday, 29 August at the Flinders University Building Royal Darwin Hospital Campus. 

This interactive workshop was facilitated by Professor Peter Morris and attended by 10 trainees.  Professor Morris delivered an informative workshop providing practical skills on developing research proposals, structuring the research and providing advice on research questions.  Our sincere appreciation to Professor Morris for giving his time to deliver a great workshop.

Vacancies on the NT Trainees' Committee

Paediatric, adult medicine, rehabilitation, occupational medicine and public health trainees are invited to join the NT Trainees’ Committee.

This is a fantastic opportunity to get involved with postgraduate medical education and represent the RACP.

Meeting five times per year, the committee is responsible for addressing educational and wellbeing issues that affect trainees across the NT.  They organise several annual educational events for trainees and are always looking for new ways to support and assist trainees.

Being a committee member is not a time-consuming commitment and is very manageable while you are preparing for exams. There is also the opportunity to extend your involvement to the national level on various working-groups and committees. No prior experience is required and applicants from all stages of training are welcome to apply to join the committee.

For further information contact one of the Co-Chairs of the NT Trainees’ Committee:

To apply to join the committee, email the RACP NT team

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