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Training pathways for the future

The 2012 annual AMA Trainee Forum was recently held in Sydney.  With a theme of ‘Training pathways for the future’, the event provided an opportunity for vocational trainees from across the country to discuss current and emerging issues in specialty education.  More than 40 doctors-in-training attended, including representatives from most college trainee committees.  It was a very successful meeting.

19 Mar 2012

The 2012 annual AMA Trainee Forum was recently held in Sydney.  With a theme of ‘Training pathways for the future’, the event provided an opportunity for vocational trainees from across the country to discuss current and emerging issues in specialty education.  More than 40 doctors-in-training attended, including representatives from most college trainee committees.  It was a very successful meeting.

With a revitalised format, the 2012 Forum featured a keynote address and four interactive policy sessions.  Each of these included presentations from senior doctors, academics and vocational trainees who are recognised for their particular expertise in their relevant area.

Former Chief Medical Officer Professor John Horvath opened the program with an historical perspective on the extent of Commonwealth Government engagement in postgraduate medical education.  He stressed the ongoing importance of the Australian Medical Council’s accreditation framework for specialty education as well as the role of the Medical Training Review Panel (MTRP) in monitoring training numbers.  Questions focused on the need to look at international models for funding quality clinical training, and the potential role of new national agencies in measuring performance in teaching and research.

After a period of useful discussion, the Forum resolved that there was a need to develop key performance indicators for medical training, and called on the MTRP to undertake this work as a matter of urgency.  This is very much in keeping with existing AMA policy.

The first policy session of the day focused on building training capacity, a topic close to the hearts of many trainees.  Professor Simon Willcock (Chair of General Practice Education and Training) and Dr Ruth Kearon (Clinical Advisor, Health Workforce Australia) presented perspectives on the challenges and opportunities brought about by the rapid expansion in undergraduate and prevocational training numbers.

Discussion focused on the need to build supervisory capacity, the potential to use innovation and structural reform within health services to create additional training places, the case for greater training and workplace flexibility, and the need to develop an implementation plan for HWA’s Health Workforce 2025 report (which is yet to be publicly released).

The Forum resolved that the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) needed to take meaningful action to ensure that medical graduates continued to have access to high quality prevocational and vocational training places.  There was agreement that COAG’s decision-making needed to be informed by the analysis and findings of Health Workforce 2025.

In the next session, Professor Richard Doherty (Dean of Education at the Royal Australasian College of Physicians) and Dr Richard Hanney (General Surgeon) presented eloquently on issues and initiatives in academic medicine and surgery respectively.

Subsequent discussion focused on the need for a defined training pathway to clinical academia, and potential solutions to overcoming barriers to undertaking education and research projects.  Time and funding were nominated as particular issues.  After discussion, the Trainee Forum requested that AMACDT develop a position statement around trainee involvement in academic activities, including the case for a defined clinical academic training pathway.

In a change of direction, the third session took an in-depth look at training in overseas settings.  Dr John Kennedy (Emergency Physician) presented a model of remote supervision for emergency medicine trainees in Papua New Guinea, and Associate Professor Rosemary Aldrich (Public Health Physician) spoke about the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine’s new curriculum for global health practice.

Discussion focused on the fact that most placement arrangements were ad hoc, and that there was a need for robust personal and professional support structures, including pre-departure training.

The Forum resolved that all vocational training colleges should work cooperatively to develop models for overseas rotations that are appropriately supervised and supported.  All agreed that placements should adhere to relevant ethical and training guidelines.

Dr Steve Hambleton closed the Forum by acknowledging the contributions of the assembled trainees and speakers to the meeting, and reaffirmed that medical training issues were central to the AMA’s advocacy agenda.

At the end of the day, members of AMACDT attended the AMA NSW Doctors-in-Training Black and White Ball.  It was an outstanding event, and provided an opportunity to acknowledge many of the junior doctors who do outstanding things in their workplaces and communities.

Thanks go to all those trainees and Secretariat members who helped ensure the Trainee Forum was a successful event.  It has certainly helped inform CDT’s advocacy priorities for the year.  For those with an interest in vocational training, a summary of discussions and outcomes is available on the AMA website at http://ama.com.au/node/7515


Published: 19 Mar 2012