South Australia – August 2017

A message from the South Australian State Committee Chair

As a State Committee we have committed to promoting the RACP Trainee Research Awards for Excellence and I would seek your assistance in encouraging and helping trainees to present applications at this meeting on Tuesday, 21 November 2017.

This is where we demonstrate how we value this aspect of training as well as coming together in Fellowship. Please encourage trainees to present and I hope to see many of you in November.

Education, training and supporting professional development are the cornerstones of our College. Whilst we are supported with an organisational structure, it is our engagement as Fellows and trainees which determines both our success and what makes our College strong for us.

The landscape of the practice of medicine and clinical training has changed dramatically over the last few decades and will continue to change. The College continues to be proactive in seeking to meet these challenges, and is reviewing selection into training, accreditation of training sites and assessment.

The success of our training programs will be determined by many things and how we as Fellows meaningfully engage and lead these changes will be crucial. We can all be involved in teaching supervising, mentoring and supporting each other in our professional development. Can I commend to those who have not done so to participate in the Supervisor Professional Development Program workshops.

Dr Rob Van Den Berg
Chair, SA State Committee

Reflections on my first year in private practice – Dr Rabin Bhandari FAFRM

sa-bhandariI finished my training in December 2013. My first full year of private practice started nearly four years ago. These were my reflections from December 2014. 

My first year in private practice was mostly good. The first few months I was very worried that I wouldn’t have the money to cover my rent at home, since my wife wasn’t working and we had just welcomed our second child. I had to do lots of mailouts to potential referrers, phone calls to set things up, visit my bank manager to get business accounts opened, design and print business cards, and invest a lot of the money I had saved up as a registrar. I also had to work out which practice software to use (and swoon at the extortionate costs), as I had resolved to go as paperless as possible. 

With hindsight, there have been a couple of things that made it easier for me to set up my practice and be relatively successful: thankfully, I had a mentor, who took me under his wing at his already-established practice; and (more importantly) I enjoy outpatient and clinic consulting. I suppose the driver of all of this was the fact that if I hadn’t pursued things, I wouldn’t be earning. Necessity and desperation were the sherpas of my private practice ascent.

As opportunities have arisen, I have said yes to everything, including travelling to do weekly (bulk-billed) clinics in the industrial outskirts (and beyond) of Adelaide. I am now in the enviable position that I have kept myself to a few sessions per week in order to maintain the household, take care of the kids, do the errands, etc while my wife returns to full-time practice and preparation for her own tilt at specialist exams.

One of the ongoing annoyances is that because I see so many outpatients, I have a lot of dictation and letter-checking to do. I cannot believe how long I held out (five months!) typing my own two-page letters back to the referrers. Also, I still do my own book-keeping.  Because MYOB looked too difficult to learn in ten minutes, I cobbled together excel spreadsheets, and I am a bit too ashamed to go to a real book-keeper or practice manager.  Eventually, as I start to value my time a bit more, I am sure I will delegate this too.

I feel that as part of training, especially when we consider the relative glut of new Fellows coming through, and the paucity of the traditional public staff specialist jobs, we should really have some sort of mentoring of Advanced Trainees in the world of private practice. PREP stands for Physician Readiness for Expert Practice: practice is more than just assessing and managing patients, research, teamwork, and the administration of a public medical ward or unit. I estimate that very few of the new Fellows in the next few years will be primarily working in research or public medicine units.

I am happy to discuss these issues, particularly with the new Fellows and Advanced Trainees. Please feel free to contact me via the RACP SA office if you would like a chat. 

Medicinal cannabis – Patient Access Pathway in South Australia

The South Australian State Committee Chair, Dr Rob ​Van ​Den Berg, met with representatives of SA Health recently to discuss the Patient Access Pathway for medicinal cannabis in South Australia.

The RACP made a submission to the Patient Access Pathway discussion paper consultation (PDF 116KB), which expressed concerns about the lack of a robust evidence base and clinical testing for medicinal cannabis. 
The Patient Access Pathway that has been developed is aligned with the existing legislated requirements for Schedule 8 medicines (noting one medicinal cannabis derivative, cannabidiol, is a Schedule 4 product and can be prescribed as such). Under the pathway, patients in South Australia can be supplied medicinal cannabis products prescribed by their medical specialist and dispensed by a pharmacist.
A section 18A authority from the Drugs of Dependence Unit (DDU) is only required for treatment longer than two months, or before commencing treatment where the person is already prescribed a Schedule 8 drug (for a period exceeding two months) and for any person the medical practitioner reasonably believes to be dependent on drugs.
Medical practitioners can contact the DDU on 1300 652 584 to discuss the specific authority requirements or email
Until medicinal cannabis products are registered medicines in Australia, Commonwealth approval is also necessary via the Therapeutic Goods Administration (Email: Phone: 1800 020 653)

Detailed information about the SA Health patient access pathway, the approval process, product information, evidence base and FAQs are available on the SA Health website.

Upcoming events


Recent event: Basic Trainee Lecture Series Seminar – 24 and 25 June 2017

The SA Trainees’ Committee held another successful Basic Trainee Lecture Series Seminar at the RACP office in Adelaide in June.

At the event 30 Basic Trainees had the opportunity to be involved in five informative and entertaining lectures by well-respected and experienced facilitators:

  • Professor Sepehr Shakib – pharmacology, statistics and epidemiology 
  • Dr Tina Marinelli – antibiotics 
  • Dr Tiffany Hughes – immunology 
  • Professor Eric Haan – genetics

Feedback from the attendees confirmed that the subjects were of great benefit, as access to these topics is limited within hospital training.

In addition to the lectures, Dr Anna Balabanski spoke about her experience being a competition participant and being selected as the South Australian representative RACP Trainee Research Awards for Excellence for 2016.  She gave an insight into what the research awards were about, her experiences throughout the submission process and presenting at the RACP Congress in 2017.

The SA Trainees’ Committee would like to thank the facilitators for donating their time and to the trainees for committing their time to attend. 

Combined Directors of Physician Education and SA State Committee Meeting – 18 May 2017

This meeting brought together the South Australian and Northern Territory Directors of Physician Education (DPE) and members of the SA State Committee to discuss local issues around the role of DPEs and how the Committee and DPE’s can work together to advocate on items that require College support.  

Guest speaker, Associate Professor Grant Phelps, President of the Adult Medicine Division presented on the challenges around communication and member engagement, gave an overview of the role of State Committees and the need for DPE involvement. 

Dr Marie-Louise Stokes, Director of Education provided an update on the Education Renewal Strategy along with additional information from Jen Wright from the Trainee Support Unit.

It was agreed that there would be benefit in holding combined meetings twice a year.

Royal Colleges Annual Golf Day 2017

The 2017 Hood Sweeney Royal Colleges Golf day is being held on Friday, 3 November, at the Royal Adelaide Golf Club. Registration opens at 11.30am with an early lunch prior to a 12.30pm shot gun start. The game will conclude at 6pm followed by refreshments and prize announcements.

Register online.

South Australian RACP Trainee Research Awards for Excellence – Submit your abstract by Friday, 13 October

news-tra-2017The 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 South Australia. 

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.

All members are invited to attend the South Australian competition which will be held on:

Date: Tuesday, 21 November 2017
Time: 6pm
Cost: Free
RACP South Australia
Level 2
257 Melbourne Street
North Adelaide
RSVP: To register your attendance please email

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

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