December 2019

Issue 23


    Chair’s message

    Welcome to the summer edition of our newsletter, and with it the close of 2019. It doesn’t seem that long ago since I rolled up my sleeves to get into 2019, and here we are looking towards the start of 2020 and a new decade.

    The big news for 2019 has been the release of new Professional capabilities for medical radiation practice that come into effect on 1 March 2020. We started the review in 2018, engaging with a wide array of stakeholders along the way. The result is what I believe to be a balanced, future-focused description of the minimum expectations that the public and the profession have of registered medical radiation practitioners. I urge you to read this and be familiar with the minimum requirements for practice.

    The 2018/19 annual report for AHPRA and the National Boards is available on the AHPRA website, and we have recently published a new Annual report page on our website that provides a summary of the medical radiation practice profession for 2018/19. See the highlights of both reports in this newsletter.

    Each year medical radiation practitioners make big contributions to safe healthcare services for the Australian public. I want to acknowledge the work of all of you, and to those practitioners who will be caring for patients over the festive season, a very big thank you.

    Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2020.

    Mark Marcenko
    Chair, Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia

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    Board news

    Professional capabilities released – to come into effect on 1 March 2020

    As many of you will have seen, the Board released the new Professional capabilities for medical radiation practice (the professional capabilities) on 8 November 2019. This was timed to coincide with World Radiography Day 2019, and its theme ‘Putting patients first’ is very much at the heart of the professional capabilities.

    The professional capabilities have been released now to give all registered practitioners time to become familiar with the requirements. They come into effect on 1 March 2020. If you identify that there are areas relevant to your practice which you need to develop further, then continuing professional development (CPD) is often the best, first course of action.

    The new professional capabilities build upon the previous version. You will notice that there is a different domain order, and different titles for some of the domains. Other changes include:

    • strengthened requirements for recognising and responding to the deteriorating patient
    • obligations for a practitioner to alert other health practitioners involved in the care of a patient when urgent or unexpected findings are identified
    • the introduction of new minimum capabilities for ultrasound (US) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    • improved practitioner capabilities when using scheduled medicines, and
    • an obligation to practise in a culturally safe way, particularly with respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

    The Board will be engaging with practitioners for the rest of 2019 through various conferences and association meetings. In early 2020 we will release details of a webinar information session for practitioners. We will also meet with education providers and clinical supervisors to discuss how the professional capabilities will operate in that sphere.

    All registered medical radiation practitioners have an obligation to practise in way that is consistent with the professional capabilities. To that end, we urge you to take the time to become familiar with the requirements before they come into effect on 1 March 2020.

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    Clinical supervision – the differences between supervised practitioners and students

    Over the past 12 months the Board received some enquiries about the requirements for supervision for students and provisional registrants: what’s different, and what’s the same?

    Similarities

    Students and supervised practitioners have a similar requirement to undergo clinical training with the ultimate goal of demonstrating that they meet the Professional capabilities for medical radiation practice. Students will have specified clinical outcomes that are set by the education provider but aligned to the professional capabilities through the operation of accreditation standards.

    Supervised practitioners work towards the same objectives but under arrangements established by the Board’s Supervised practice program.

    Differences

    Students are not registered practitioners, they can’t be, primarily because they have not completed a qualification which is an essential requirement for registration as a health practitioner. Students:

    • are not on the national register of practitioners
    • cannot use a protected title (such as diagnostic radiographer), and
    • are generally not subject to registration standards, codes and guidelines (students are not required to do CPD).

    Clinical supervisors who are supervising medical radiation practice students are obliged to:

    • ensure the student is supervised at all times (this does not include remote supervision)
    • provide appropriate supervision to ensure patients, other health practitioners and the public are not put at risk
    • provide training and education for students aligned clinical objectives set by education providers
    • assess the student’s competence, and
    • ensure the student is not practising autonomously or independently.

    Clinical supervisors are the critical link in assessing a student’s clinical competence and determining if the student has satisfactorily demonstrated the relevant capabilities of the Professional capabilities for medical radiation practice. The Board and education providers rely on this assessment, as do future users of the health system.

    Employment contracts for students

    Where an employer has chosen to establish some form of remuneration for an individual student, those arrangements need to ensure that the role of a student is not confused with the role of a registered practitioner.

    Employers should consider written arrangements that make clear the role of the student, the role of the education provider, the objectives of clinical training, the obligation of the student to be supervised at all times, and the role of the clinical supervisor.

    An employment contract cannot oblige a student to work in a way that is inconsistent with being a student, and this includes working in a way that would otherwise contradict the definition of practice, the title protection or the holding out provisions (e.g. s.113, 116 and 117) of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law) or otherwise directing or inciting unprofessional conduct or professional misconduct (s.136).

    Supervised practice arrangements for registered practitioners

    In contrast, a registered practitioner doing supervised practice:

    • has completed a qualification in medical radiation practice
    • is a registered medical radiation practitioner
    • can use a protected title
    • is bound by registration standards, codes and guidelines, for example must do CPD and must hold professional practice insurance (PII)
    • must practise in accordance with supervision program, and
    • may practise autonomously within the supervision framework.

    A provisional registrant must practice in a supervised practice arrangement approved by the Board. The Supervised practice registration standard applies to supervised practitioners and their clinical supervisors, as do the Supervised practice guidelines and Supervision guideThe purpose of supervised practice is to enable the register practitioner time to demonstrate that they to meet the Professional capabilities for medical radiation practice.

    Clinical supervisors who are supervising a registered practitioner are obliged to:

    • comply with requirements of supervised practice standard, guidelines and program guide
    • ensure supervision is at the appropriate level, including remote supervision
    • provide training and education for the registered practitioner aligned to the requirements of the supervised practice program, and
    • assess registered practitioner’s competence to practise independently.

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    Using social media and when it can go wrong

    Many of us use social media daily, often simply posting pictures or comments that are personal to us that we want to share with others. Social media’s gift is the ability to create connections between people and conversations, but the permanence of our social media footprints means that sometimes it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

    Increasingly we are seeing ramifications for comments that a person has made on social media permeating other aspects of their lives. There have been instances where an employee has been sacked by their employer for comments made on social media, and politicians know well the double-edged sword of social media.

    More recently, media outlets reported the online activity of several registered health practitioners.

    In one high-profile matter Dr Christopher Kwan Lee, a medical practitioner, was suspended for six weeks in April this year after being found guilty of professional misconduct by making inappropriate comments in Singaporean chat rooms. The tribunal found Dr Lee’s comments were ‘disrespectful of women’, ‘racially discriminatory’ and had ‘potential to cause harm to the public’ and as such constituted professional misconduct under the National Law and common law.

    The Board has dealt with notifications about registered medical radiation practitioners in relation to their online activity. In one case a practitioner posted details of medical treatment and diagnosis on Facebook that included information that could identify the patient. By posting this information in a public forum, although it was a ‘closed group’ and neither patient name nor date of birth was identifiable, the practitioner jeopardised patient privacy and confidentiality. These actions were in breach of the Board’s Social media policy and Code of conduct.

    When interacting online, you should maintain professional standards and be aware of the implications of your actions, just as you would if you were interacting in person. You need to maintain awareness when you engage on social media to ensure that your activity online is ethical and professional.

    The National Boards have published a new Social media guide to help registered health practitioners understand and meet their obligations when using social media. See National Scheme news below for more information.

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    Registration

    Have you renewed your registration? Renew online before the end of the late period

    Medical radiation practitioners have until 31 December 2019 to renew their registration. The quickest and easiest way to renew is online.

    Renewal applications received in December will incur a late payment fee in addition to the annual renewal fee. A fees schedule is published on the Board’s website.

    If your application for general registration is received during the following one-month late period you can continue practising while your application is processed.

    If you do not apply to renew your registration by 31 December 2019 your registration will lapse. You will be removed from the Register of Medical Radiation Practitioners and will not be able to practise your profession in Australia.

    More information

    Latest workforce data released

    The Board’s latest data report covers the period 1 July to 30 September 2019. The profession continues to grow, with an increase of 392 registrants since the previous year’s report for the same period. Highlights include:

    • There are 16,718 registered medical radiation practitioners in Australia, of whom 16,210 have general registration. 
    • There are 278 practitioners with provisional registration, two with limited registration and 228 with non-practising registration.
    • The registered workforce by gender is 68.1 per cent female and 31.9 per cent male. By division, there are 13,025 diagnostic radiographers, 1,195 nuclear medicine technologists and 2,481 radiation therapists.
    • Of those with dual registration, 15 are diagnostic radiographers and nuclear medicine technologists and two are diagnostic radiographers and radiation therapists.

    For more information, visit our Statistics page.

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    National Scheme news

    Annual report 2018/19 released – one in 17 working Australians on the national register

    The latest report on the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme) is packed full of data and descriptions of what National Boards and AHPRA do and how we work in partnership. While its most attentive readership is Health Ministers and their staff, the report is also a useful source of information for a wider audience: board members, other regulators, registrants, students, overseas-trained health professionals, employers, education providers, consumer groups, patients and the broader community.

    Registrant growth across the professions

    It’s quite startling to realise that one in every 17 working Australians is a registrant in one of the regulated health professions in the scheme. At over 744,000 registrants, this is a huge and growing workforce.

    Australia now has over 740,000 registered health practitioners across 16 professions, with paramedicine becoming a nationally regulated profession this year. The number of registered practitioners has continued to grow and in 2018/19 the National Scheme experienced an increase of 5.9% in the total number of registered health practitioners.

    For medical radiation practice there are more than 16,700 registered practitioners, with a growth rate of 2.6% for 2018/19.

    Notifications data and management

    In 2018/19, across the National Scheme 12,445 practitioners had a notification made about them (1.7% of all registered health practitioners). The top three reasons for a notification made were clinical care (46.3%), medication issues (10.7%) and health impairment (6.5%). The annual report also shows AHPRA directly received 9,338 concerns (notifications) about registered health practitioners and closed 8,979.

    For medical radiation practice, in 2018/19, there were 51 notifications nationally. In NSW 21 notifications were received and processed by the Health Practitioner Councils Authority (HPCA), while in Queensland two notifications were received by the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO). The remaining 31 notifications were received and managed by AHPRA.

    This year, AHPRA continued working on improving how it manages notifications. This includes connecting people who have made, or are the subject of, a notification to services to support them through the process. The 9,338 notifications received by AHPRA represents an overall increase of 14.3% in notifications for the year. AHPRA reported that more matters were closed more quickly and reduced overall timeframes for dealing with notifications.

    In 2018/19 AHPRA put in place a new national operating model for practitioner registrations. The implementation of the new model took longer than expected and resulted in some registration applications being delayed. To address this, AHPRA has invested more resources and further streamlined the model, along with improved communications with employers, professional groups and applicants.

    The Board is working with AHPRA to ensure registration performance meets stakeholder expectations and is an important ongoing focus of its work.

    More information

    For a closer look at medical radiation practice please visit our new Annual report page on our website.

    To view and download the full 2018/19 annual report, visit the AHPRA website.

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    Social media guide for health practitioners

    The National Boards and AHPRA have published new guide to help registered health practitioners understand and meet their obligations when using social media.

    The guide reminds practitioners that when interacting online, they should maintain professional standards and be aware of the implications of their actions, just as when they interact in person.

    The guide does not stop practitioners from engaging online or via social media; instead, it encourages practitioners to act ethically and professionally in any setting.

    To help practitioners meet their obligations, the guide also outlines some common pitfalls practitioners may encounter when using social media.

    Community trust in registered health practitioners is essential. Whether an online activity can be viewed by the public or is limited to a specific group of people, health practitioners have a responsibility to behave ethically and to maintain professional standards, as in all professional circumstances.

    In using social media, health practitioners should be aware of their obligations under the National Law, their Board’s Code of conduct, the advertising guidelines and other relevant legislation, such as privacy legislation. See the article in this newsletter for further tips.

    This guide replaces the Social media policy on National Boards’ codes, guidelines and policies pages and is available in the Advertising resources section of AHPRA’s website. The guide will be updated as needed.

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    Safety of older Australians at centre of new regulatory agreement

    Older Australians will be better protected as the result of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed recently by AHPRA and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the commission).

    The MOU underpins the positive and collaborative working relationship that already exists between AHPRA and the commission. It will ensure that information can be appropriately shared between the two agencies when there are concerns in aged care.

    It will support the commission raising concerns about the health, performance or conduct of registered health practitioners working in aged care. In a reciprocal arrangement, AHPRA will disclose information to the commission if it has concerns about the care and safety of someone receiving Commonwealth-funded aged care services.

    Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson PSM said the commission was pleased to work with AHPRA to support the timely sharing of information and two-way communication to help both parties better fulfil their statutory mandates.

    AHPRA will also work with the commission to ensure that all aged care employers use our online national register to check that health practitioners working in aged care are appropriately registered and meet required registration standards and codes of conduct.

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    Social research results: understanding perceptions about the National Scheme’s work

    The National Boards and AHPRA have released results from a social research project aimed at helping us understand perceptions about us and our work.

    The aim of the social research was for National Boards and AHPRA to better understand what the community, regulated health professions and our stakeholders think and feel about us, particularly in areas of understanding, confidence and trust.
    The National Boards and AHPRA are using insights gained from the project to better understand how registered health practitioners view what we do and to inform how we can improve our engagement with both the professions and the community.

    The National Boards and AHPRA has released a report of results from the project which included a short, anonymous survey of a random sample of registered practitioners from across 15 of the 16 regulated health professions. (Because the practitioner survey was conducted before paramedics joined the National Scheme the report does not include survey results for this profession.)

    The anonymous survey of practitioners was done simultaneously with an anonymous survey sent to a random sample of members of the public across communities in Australia. Both surveys were managed by an independent consultant. We invite you to take a look at the results.

    The social research results are available on the AHPRA website. The National Boards have also published profession-specific reports based on the results of the online survey of registered health practitioners.

    To help inform our future work to ensure the public has access to a safe registered health workforce, we are surveying practitioners and the community again in 2019.

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    Updated logos for National Boards and AHPRA

    The National Boards and AHPRA are in the tenth year of implementing the National Scheme.

    The National Scheme started in July 2010, initially regulating 10 health professions. Since 2012, five more health professions have joined the scheme, the latest being paramedics in December 2018. (Nursing and midwifery were officially recognised as separate professions under amendments to the National Law last year.) We now regulate over 744,000 practitioners across 16 health professions

    This growth in the number of regulated health professions was pivotal to refreshing the AHPRA logo, which also lists the National Boards and is used to represent the National Scheme.

    The bold but simple design of the new AHPRA logo aims to serve us well into the future. It still has a key element of the old logo, namely the map of Australia, but is better suited to digital platforms (websites, social media) and for use across a variety of other materials.

    Most importantly, it will not need updating as the old logo would if Health Ministers decide public safety would benefit from other health professions becoming regulated.

    The National Board logos reflect the ongoing partnership between the National Boards and AHPRA in our shared role of protecting the public.

    Both logo designs also include ‘AHPRA’, now with just an initial capital: ‘Ahpra’. This helps people to pronounce our name correctly and distinguishes us from other regulators with similar acronyms.

    The new logos will be rolled out over coming months.

    As we say goodbye to the old logos and welcome the new, thanks for your patience while we complete this transition.

    New Logo

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    Keep in touch with the Board

    • Visit www.medicalradiationpracticeboard.gov.au for the mandatory registration standards, codes, guidelines and FAQ.
    • Visiting the website regularly is the best way to stay in touch with news and updates from the Board.
    • Lodge an enquiry form via the website by following the Enquiries link on every web page under Contact us.
    • For registration enquiries, call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9275 9009 (for overseas callers).
    • To update your contact details for important registration renewal emails and other Board updates, go to the AHPRA website: Update contact details.
    • Address mail correspondence to: Mark Marcenko, Chair, Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

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      Page reviewed 11/12/2019