Issue 1 • 2021

A message from the Board

Since the last edition of RACP Quarterly your Board met on 30 October 2020 and on 11 December 2020.
Read the highlights of key issues discussed at these meetings.
October 2020 Constitutional Reform – College Council Meeting Constitutional reform was discussed at the College Council meeting on 29 October 2020, and Council members sought to be involved in the process. The Council were advised that they will be engaged on the reform strategy which has a shorter timeframe and the governance model which has a longer timeframe. The governance model is intended to be discussed at the May 2021 Annual General Meeting (AGM). The Council will continue to be involved in conveying its views to the Board on Constitutional reform utilising an established relationship with the membership.
Equity and diversity in the College The Board was advised that there are a series of projects underway including gender equity, workplace wellbeing, Fellows in Focus and NAIDOC Week. In addition, the College is collaborating on a larger project, focusing on women in leadership, which has international visibility.
Computer-based testing contingency and crisis management plans Directors were advised that the computer-based testing (CBT) project is on track, with risks being managed by expert project groups. Crisis plans and a Situational Management Plan have been established providing key contacts, step-by-step processes to address adverse situations, pre-drafted communications including potential triggers, escalation points, owners and tasks. Directors were pleased to see the crisis management plan and suggested a ‘dry run’ be undertaken. Trainees have been actively involved in the project. Should a site become invalid, a candidate’s information will be saved up to the point of any outage. It was noted that when using any technology platform, there is risk of system failure. In addition, extensive testing has been done.
A limited number of trainees will sit the CBT exams in February and May 2021 and further trainees will sit the October 2021 exam. The decision to move all trainees to the CBT model will be based on the outcome of the test sites. The College has been extremely active to minimise risk and keep trainees informed of timelines.
Trainees’ voice The Chair welcomed Trainees' Committee member Dr Hash Abdeen to the meeting. Dr Abdeen reflected on trainees’ experiences. He clearly discussed the fact that there have been many necessary changes to education and assessment at the College in 2020 and 2021, noting the progression of training by the College has been commendable. There has been a major change in culture since 2018. The consultation with the College Trainees' Committee (CTC) has been commendable, having trainees involved in the curriculum and decision making, recognising this is a challenge given the large numbers of trainees. The use of pulse surveys of training has engaged trainees well. Trainees are now happy to progress with online exams, the concerns around COVID-19 and technical failures are understood, with robust contingencies well accounted for. The wellbeing of trainees and plans have been implemented well.
The Board recognised the importance of trainees, being a third of the membership, and expressed their thanks and appreciation for the work of the trainees and their support for the significant change that has occurred. It was relayed that communications have improved, noting the extensive risk and impact of any form of failure on the training pathway. December 2020 Strategic Plan 2021 The Board has released an updated strategic plan for the next 12 months that was developed in consultation with College Council. A longer three to five-year plan will be developed during 2021 and more extensive consultation with members will be included in that process. The College continues to increase the use of measurable outcomes in workplans to improve accountability for members.
Important progress is being made through implementing the Strategic Indigenous Framework, with a leading priority to increase the number of Indigenous trainees and Fellows.
With the IT Roadmap and Online Communities project, a more personalised digital service and more efficient way of connecting members is being developed.
Organisational Values After a highly consultative process with staff, committees and members, Organisational Values have been developed. These will underpin how staff and members who are actively involved in College activities undertake our work.
Constitutional Reform progress update Consultation with members is continuing through 2021, in order to propose constitutional changes to members in 2022. The Constitutional review will also be discussed with the membership at the 2021 Annual General Meeting (AGM). Some changes to the survey have been made in response to feedback from members and the Board.
Board Charter The Board Charter has been amended to address relevant Effective Governance recommendations. The Board Charter is available on the RACP website.
Election Process 2021 Two Member Director positions and the Aotearoa New Zealand President-Elect are due for election in 2021. The successful candidates will take-up their positions at the 2021 AGM in May. The 2021 AGM will be held as a hybrid face-to-face and virtual event for the ease of members who wish to attend. A pre and live question and answer process will be available. Committee Survey – final results The Board is aware that the large number of College committees can add significantly to the complexity of the organisation and is seeking ways to maintain member engagement with the College while streamlining the committee structures. A recent survey has provided valuable information about current issues and will be used to inform the review. A number of issues will be considered including how committees and working parties manage their reporting, and consistency in the roles of different types of groups, for example a reference group as opposed to a working party. The importance of Division and Faculty Councils and Chapter and Regional committees to support their members and deal with their specific issues was acknowledged, as was the importance of engaging with all College Bodies. eG Progress Report #6 The Board is very pleased with the progress in implementing the Effective Governance recommendations and acknowledges the enormous contribution of staff. Ninety per cent of the recommendations have now been completed. The College will provide a program of work to complete the remaining outstanding recommendations and will maintain ongoing reporting to the ACNC until finalisation. Australian Medical Council (AMC) accreditation The College has been re-accredited by the AMC for four years, an achievement we are very pleased with. The AMC particularly noted the College’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. There remain some outstanding issues, and significant elements of educational reform are continuing. Trainees’ voice The Chair welcomed Dr Aritra Ray, Aotearoa New Zealand representative from the College Trainees’ Committee to the meeting. Dr Ray expressed his thanks to the Board, staff and trainees on what has been a tumultuous yet successful year. The trainees are particularly pleased to have the opportunity to progress through examinations, although the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact delivery. On behalf of the trainees, Dr Ray acknowledged that the College showed compassion and respect to others and unity in the face of crisis, key values of the College. Thanks were expressed to the Board for the actions that were taken for the trainees. The Board thanked Dr Ray for attending and were pleased to hear that the College is moving in the right direction. The Board acknowledged that it is important to continually learn so improvements can be made in future years.
Awarding of The John Sands Medal and The College Medal for 2021 The Board expressed its congratulations to the medal recipients:
  • Professor Gregory Crawford – John Sands Medal
  • Professor Roderick Duncan McLeod – College Medal.
Recipients of 2021 Fellowship Committee Medals The Board expressed their congratulations to the award and medal recipients:
  • Associate Professor Gregory Fox – RACP International Medal
  • Dr Allan Kerrigan – RACP Medal for Clinical Services in Rural and Remote Areas
  • Dr David Levitt – RACP Mentor of the Year Award
  • Dr Davina Buntsma – RACP Trainee of the Year Award.
In conclusion The Board is deeply appreciative of the enormous efforts of many trainees, Fellows and staff who, despite the substantial disruptions of COVID-19, effectively delivered a range of important outcomes for our College, our members and the community. In overcoming the disappointment of cancellations and adjustments that COVID-19 required, we have also experienced more rapid change and innovation. An example was the 2020 Online Congress Series which enabled the inclusion of targeted educational sessions on COVID-19 as the pandemic evolved and scientific evidence emerged. The Board particularly acknowledged the expertise and generosity of the Community Board Directors, who bring vital expertise to the Board. The Board remains sensitive to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for us all, especially frontline trainees and Fellows, and is committed to pursuing our longer-term strategic goals whilst making adjustments as necessary for the time being.
Professor John Wilson AM RACP President
© 2021 The Royal Australasian College of Physicians