The President's Message – 1 October 2021
We are living in times of change and with COVID-19, it's been unpredictable. Many factors are converging at the moment to disrupt usual patterns of life and work for all of us. The pandemic, as you know, has been one of those factors moving along with so many other things that are affecting the way we practise. That includes new ways of working, the effects of climate change, and many others. We’re all having to adapt to an uncertain future.
Medical training and lifelong physician learning will have to adapt as well. The RACP can make guesses at what medicine might be like in coming years – up to a decade out. But the best resource to accurately inform us... is you, the membership.
I’m hosting a webinar in early November to seek your advice on the future of the College and as the experts on the frontline, I need your input, more than want. Following the success of our last town hall meeting with Commonwealth Health Minister Greg Hunt, the Minister would like to join us for the discussion as well. Many of the developments we’re anticipating in the near future are exciting, and some are very challenging.
We’re all aware of the impact of artificial intelligence, electronic medical records and indeed, telemedicine – already driving changes in patient treatment. We’ll be asking some fundamental questions of you.
What new or additional skills and capabilities may you require in the next five to 10 years for the future of patient care? What can our College do to ensure future physicians are ready to embrace these developments? Will the role of the physician in society be fundamentally different in ten years? What will the medical workforce look like then, and how do we start preparing now? – today, not tomorrow.
We’re hoping to have some interesting and prominent guest speakers offering their views. But your contributions and insights are what we’re really after.
You are the ones who can see the patterns and trends emerging. You can identify the opportunities and the possibilities – particularly our trainees who have a view for the future that is so much more clear and vivid than many of us have seen. As the old saying goes, none of us is as wise as all of us.
Keep an eye out for further updates and join me and the Minister for a discussion about these important topics on Wednesday, 10 November.
Professor John Wilson AM
It's yours, so make it your own
As you may have seen in the communication sent to you yesterday, the ROC (RACP Online Community) is live. It's a private place for us to network, engage and connect in real time, available exclusively to RACP members and Overseas Trained Physicians (OTPs).
The ROC is ours to:
- ask questions and start discussions with each other in an easy to access online forum
- find other members and connect with them
- expand our professional networks across the membership, or within our specialty, Division, Faculty or Chapter
- keep up-to-date with College announcements
- find out about the latest events, updates and resources
- be informed via a weekly digest email on Thursdays, or opt out if you prefer.
To help you get started, please watch this brief instructional video:
Current members practising in Australia will now have received a direct email inviting them to complete an important survey. Members' safety and wellbeing are at the core of the College’s business, and we are keen to know about the impact of the COVID-19 Delta variant on your workload, workplace safety and on the healthcare system.
The survey is for trainees and Fellows in both private and public practice. The de-identified results will be used as an evidence base for targeted advocacy on member safety, protection, wellbeing and associated matters, as advised by you. The survey is short and to the point, taking nine to 15 minutes.
An internal report will be prepared using de-identified data only and no individuals will be identified at any stage. Summary results will be used to drive our advocacy in the media and to the Australian Government and the Commonwealth and State/Territory Departments of Health.
The deadline to complete the survey is close of business Monday, 4 October 2021. For further information or if you did not receive a link to the survey, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Need some extra support for your journey through Fellowship? Held on Tuesday, 19 October from 7pm to 8.30pm AEDT, the National New Fellows’ Online Forum will help guide final year Advanced Trainees and first year Fellows in the right direction.
At this free online event, you'll receive advice from Fellows who've been in your shoes and will hear about medico-legal issues, CPD requirements and more.
- On the threshold of consultant practice: The nuts and bolts, dollars and sense
- Introduction to CPD: A step-by-step process for New Fellows
- The things I wish I knew when I was new: Hear from a recent New Fellow about what to expect
- Medico-legal issues: The blurred lines between personal and professional in social media case studies and how this directly relates to New Fellows
- Panel discussion: Navigating the next stage of your career, led by experienced Fellows.
Free online event for all trainees
Trainees, you're invited to take some time out to focus on your wellbeing and professional development at the RACP Aotearoa Te Hui-ā-Ataata mō te Waiora o ngā Tauira Mahi | RACP Aotearoa New Zealand Trainees' Wellbeing Webinar. Held on Rātū, 19 Whiringa-ā-nuku | Tuesday, 19 October from 7pm to 9pm (NZDT), you won't want to miss this free online event.
One of the highlights on the program is Dr Susannah Ward's session, Wellbeing tools for life: Strategies for preventing burnout. Hear what she has to say about the event and why you should register in her video.
Find out more and register
The NSW Public Health (COVID-19 Vaccination of Healthcare Workers) Order 2021 dated 26 August 2021 directs certain health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The College wrote to The Hon Brad Hazzard MP, Minister for Health and Medical Research requesting clarification as to how this applies to specialist physicians. Specifically, we stated that 'all staff who work for NSW Health or in a private health facility, including private hospitals and day procedure facilities, will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to ensure the safety of staff and patients in public and private health facilities across NSW' and that 'these staff will need to obtain their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 30 September 2021 and be fully vaccinated by 30 November 2021'.
The College sought clarity regarding whether these requirements applied to all specialist physicians and all their staff including those in private practice, and how these staff could access the vaccination in an expedited way for them to meet the vaccination deadlines.
NSW Health has provided a response to the College:
The Public Health (COVID-19 Vaccination of Healthcare Workers) Order 2021 directs that certain healthcare workers can only work as a healthcare worker if they receive one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 30 September and two doses by 30 November (unless they have a medical contraindication certificate).
This includes specialists and other staff working in a licensed private health facility, being a private hospital or day procedure centre. At this stage, the Order does not include private primary care providers however the public health orders are kept continually under review and amended as appropriate.
The Order helps protect the public and the private hospital system by ensuring that staff are vaccinated, which reduces the risk of staff contracting COVID-19 and transmitting COVID-19 to other staff, patients and visitors. This, in turn, will assist in reducing the risk of healthcare disruptions caused by staff contracting COVID-19.
Priority Pfizer vaccination appointments are available for all healthcare workers through NSW Health Local Health Districts (LHDs) vaccination teams. COVID-19 vaccination is also available through GP clinics, participating pharmacies, and NSW Health vaccination clinics. Anyone in NSW aged 18 and over can book a vaccination appointment through the Vaccine Clinic Finder.
Please visit the NSW Government website for further information and updates.
We draw your attention to an important extract from the Victorian Coroner’s Findings into the anaphylaxis death of a young person. Please be aware of the coroner’s recommendation directed to RACP members, as outlined below.
Coroner Bracken recommended that, in order to reduce the risk of harm associated with food allergies and anaphylaxis RACP members be aware of the dangers and consider referring all patients (especially children and young persons) who present with food allergies to a specialist immunologist or immunology clinic such as that at the Royal Children's Hospital for assessment and management of such allergies.
Read the case findings
Opportunities with RACP Foundation
The RACP appreciates the value and experience Indigenous and Māori doctors can provide to the health sector and communities in treating Indigenous and Māori health issues. The RACP Indigenous Health Scholarship Program provides funded pathways through physician training. Applications are now invited for 2022 Indigenous Health Scholarships. The closing date is Tuesday, 30 November 2021.
The RACP President's Indigenous Congress Prize is open to medical students, junior medical officers and RACP trainees who identify as Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or Māori. The selected applicant will receive support to attend the RACP Congress 2022 to gain educational and networking opportunities and exposure to career pathways within the College. Please encourage anyone you know who is eligible to apply before the deadline on Friday, 31 January 2022.
The Australian and New Zealand Association of Neurologists (ANZAN) is offering an annual Scholarship that provides support to an RACP Advanced Trainee who identifies as Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or Māori and is undertaking the Advanced Training Program in Neurology. Applications close Tuesday, 30 November 2021.
For further information on all of these opportunities please see the Indigenous Scholarships & Prizes webpage.
The Australian Digital Health Agency is hosting a series of upcoming new virtual classroom sessions. Tailored specifically for specialists, practice nurses and practice managers, the virtual sessions use an online training environment to demonstrate the core features of My Health Record in either the Genie or National Provider Portal environments.
The sessions are designed to be interactive where participants are encouraged to ask questions and raise any issues.
Understand how to:
- save time by accessing overview summary documents including medicines, immunisations, pathology and diagnostic imaging
- find documents relevant to your clinical practice e.g. discharge summaries
- understand how to view the available Medicare information.
View the list of available session times and register for a session:
Register for a Genie session
Register for a National Provider Portal session
Despite living through unprecedented times, it's important for us to step back, and find time to focus on networking and professional development. The RACP South Australian Annual Scientific Meeting (SA ASM) will be held in-person on Saturday, 30 October at the Adelaide Convention Centre. You'll enjoy a phenomenal list of speakers, so secure your ticket today.
New evidence that will change the way you think about pain
Pain is a wonderfully complex, yet often frustrating, phenomenon. As health professionals, we typically do an excellent job at treating the area that hurts. But our jobs become infinitely more difficult when this doesn’t work. What do we do when patients don’t respond?
Associate Professor Tasha Stanton is the Osteoarthritis Research Theme Lead for IIMPACT in Health, University of South Australia, Adelaide and an NHMRC Australian Fellow. Watch her video about her session, exclusive to the SA ASM.
RACP Online Learning
The new Quality and Safety in Rural Australia self-paced online course has been designed to get you thinking about the unique factors and challenges of practising healthcare in rural Australia. It investigates, in a practical way, how quality and safety may differ in rural Australia and offers some useful information and resources to assist you to deliver the best care in these settings.
Developed by experts including RACP Fellows, this adaptable course features a mix of in-depth content, video scenarios, reflection and discussion activities and recommended supporting materials.
Medflix is home of our extensive collection of powerful and engaging educational videos. The videos have been designed to support members with their lifelong learning and professional development needs and cover a range of clinical and professional topics. To be notified via email when new videos are added to Medflix, subscribe today and receive the latest updates.
Two new PhD research scholarships in Practice Analytics are being awarded through The University of Sydney. The scholarships are currently open for applications until 21 October 2021.
Each scholarship will provide the following benefits for up to 3.5 years for a PhD recipient:
- Stipend allowance of $40,000 per annum
- Education allowance of $5,000 per annum
- Project Travel allowance of $5,000 per annum
The scholarships will support two postgraduate research students at the Faculty of Medicine and Health to undertake research in practice analytics.
Find out more and apply
The 8th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium is offering its full program of more than 60 research presentations, poster sessions and high-quality keynote speakers on a virtual platform on Wednesday, 6 to Thursday, 7 October 2021. The theme of the virtual symposium is ‘Connecting research, practice and communities’ – bringing together researchers with policymakers and other stakeholders to shape the future of rural and remote health research.
Learn more and register
Lung Foundation Australia, in collaboration with Cancer Australia, has developed accredited clinical learning eModules, based on Cancer Australia’s Investigating symptoms of lung cancer: a guide for all health professionals. The eModules use clinical scenario-based learning to increase confidence among health professionals to recognise symptoms and signs of lung cancer and support early and rapid referral of symptomatic patients into the multidisciplinary diagnostic pathway.
Sign up for the modules
Episode 73: Communicating a pandemic
There are many layers of public health interventions that can reduce the rate of transmission of the novel coronavirus. Social distancing, mask wearing, lockdowns and vaccines each nudge the reproduction number down. But you need all of them working together to make a significant impact, and that means you need the community on board.
In this podcast, we discuss the challenges and strategies around communicating public health messages to the public during a time of such high anxiety. Dr Jessica Kaufman is a Research Fellow in the Vaccine Acceptance, Uptake and Policy Research Team at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute who presented her work to the RACP Congress in May. She outlined the principles and clarity, transparency and consistency that are needed to win the public’s trust when tough social restrictions need to be adhered to.
We also hear an interview with Professor Allen Cheng FRACP, who’s played this game harder than most. As Deputy Chief Health Officer of Victoria, he advised on implementation of the lockdown that brought Melbourne’s second wave to a halt after four long months. If being part of fun police wasn’t enough responsibility, he also co-chaired the COVID-19 Group at the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation which had to weigh up the suitability of the AstraZeneca vaccine as reports of rare side-effects and death were emerging in real time. He describes the fine balance between providing enough information for the public to be able to make informed decisions.
- Dr Jessica Kaufman (Murdoch Children's Research Institute)
- Professor Allen Cheng FRACP (Alfred Health, Monash University, ATAGI, TGA)
Do you want to be among the first to find out about more Pomegranate Health podcasts? Subscribe to email alerts or search for ‘Pomegranate Health’ in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Castbox, or any podcasting app. RACP Fellows can claim CPD credits for listening and learning via MyCPD. For a transcript and further references please visit our webpage.
The September 2021 issue of the Internal Medicine Journal is now live on the RACP website (login using RACP login credentials). You can now access full journal issues as PDFs using the link to the digital editions on this page. This month’s Editor's Choice is a review titled The impact of subclinical hypothyroidism on health-related quality of life: a narrative review.
Other highlights from the issue are:
- Subclinical hypothyroidism and quality of life
- Demystifying machine learning
- Genetic variant interpretation
- Australian Aboriginal people’s perspectives on biobanking
- Alcohol misuse and critical care admissions
- Online mental health training program.
The early view of the October edition of the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health is now live on the Wiley Online Library website.
Highlights from the issue include:
- Can I breastfeed my baby with Down syndrome? A scoping review
- Impact of the coronavirus pandemic on anorexia nervosa and atypical anorexia nervosa presentations to an Australian tertiary paediatric hospital
- Pharyngotonsillitis in adolescents: Remember herpes simplex virus
- Influenza vaccination among caregivers and household contacts of children with congenital heart disease before and during COVID-19 pandemic
- Microcephaly in Australian infants: A retrospective audit
- Potentially unrecognised pain in children: Population-based birth cohort study at seven years of age.
Read other RACP eBulletins: