Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia - May 2022
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May 2022

Issue 31 - May 2022

From the Chair

Cara Miller Hello and welcome to our first newsletter for 2022.

In February I was appointed Chair of the Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia and I am thrilled and honoured to take on the role. I want to thank Mark Marcenko for his encouragement, contribution and great work as Chair for the past seven years.

I am the first woman to serve in the role of Chair for this profession and one of the things that I will advocate strongly for is the role of women in medical radiation practice. Women represent around 70 per cent of our workforce so I encourage you all to put up your hand for roles on the National Board or the Accreditation Committee, and any other leadership roles you might be interested in, whether they be at work, in professional organisations or local community groups.

In this issue we look at the importance of collaboration around student clinical placement and we encourage practitioners to commit to ongoing development of their cultural competence. As part of our commitment to engagement we are setting up an MRP student advocacy and reference group. Read more below.

Cara Miller

Chair, Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia

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Board news

Board priorities and your feedback – catch us at the ASMIRT conference!

Board members have been excited to collaborate on the priorities we need to focus on in the coming year and hope to share this information with you over the next few months. Board Chair Cara Miller will be at this year’s ASMIRT conference, so please seek out our booth if you would like to share your thoughts and say hello!

One priority Cara has identified is empowering women in medical radiation practice. As we’re usually a profession of ‘employees’, it’s important that the organisations we work for find or create opportunities to support women in leadership roles, allowing them a free choice to participate rather than having to sacrifice necessities so they can contribute to the community of practice.

Practitioners being able to share their experience and contribute ideas to improve education and professional practice means community of practice is important. We cannot afford to exclude a large proportion of our profession.

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Clinical placement – collaborating for the future of practice

Recently the Board has been speaking with a range of stakeholders and a common topic of discussion is the impact of COVID-19, particularly on the provision of clinical education, student learning and the flow of graduates to the workplace.

The encouraging theme coming from stakeholders is the collaborative way in which clinical training sites, particularly public hospitals, have worked tirelessly to accommodate student clinical placements at a time when there were extraordinary pressures in those workplaces.

Similarly, education providers adapted quickly to the circumstances and modified program delivery and timing of clinical training blocks so that the maximum number of students could access clinical training. Education providers also managed the significant increase in student welfare requirements resulting from things like movement restrictions or the loss of casual employment, which affected students’ ability to attend clinical training.

The reason these discussions, the work of clinicians and of education partners must be recognised is the impact that they ultimately have on the supply of graduates to the workforce. While much has been achieved through the pandemic, it has also highlighted the need for greater industry engagement and partnership with education providers.

Education providers are required to identify clinical placements for all students enrolled in programs. Organisational policies that limit or restrict the availability of student clinical placements create barriers to enrolment numbers, and ultimately limit the flow of graduates. This has implications for organisations that rely on graduate practitioners to support their workforce model.

We encourage organisations that employ medical radiation practitioners to contribute to the community of practice by maximising the clinical training opportunities for students enrolled in approved and accredited programs of study.

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Making cultural safety an ongoing part of your CPD

The first version of the Professional capabilities for medical radiation practice released in 2013 identified cultural competence as a necessary element of patient communication and collaboration. The 2020 revised version of the Professional capabilities drew upon and embedded the National Scheme’s definition of cultural safety as an essential requirement for medical radiation practice.

Every person has dignity and value. One of the ways that we recognise the fundamental worth of every person is by acknowledging and respecting their human rights. Australian Commission on Human Rights.

Large elements of Australian society are on a path of learning and discovery about the importance of Indigenous culture in healthcare. Cultural safety is an essential part of respecting the rights of patients, building trust and confidence and improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

We encourage you to make cultural safety and developing greater cultural competence an ongoing part of your professional development.

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National exam calibration exercise

A big thank you to the students and recent graduates who participated in the exam calibration exercise at the end of 2021. Students and graduates represented all universities across Australia and the overall results were very pleasing.

Congratulations to all those who took part and thank you for a job well done.

We acknowledge and apologise for the difficulties we had in getting the gift cards to some students and graduates who participated. The Board and Ahpra sent each gift card by registered post, but the impacts of the pandemic on mail delivery systems led to delays and in some cases, registered envelopes went missing and new gift cards had to be issued. 

New National exam guidelines are now in effect

The Board consulted on revised National exam guidelines in April 2021. We noted the feedback from some stakeholders about the importance of validity and reliability of the exam pass mark. In response, the Board carried out a large-scale calibration exercise with final-year students who were about to graduate and become registered for the first time.

The Board considered the results of the calibration exercise and agreed on a minimum of 65 per cent for both Part A (common capabilities) and Part B (division-specific capabilities) in the exam. This pass mark reflects something less than the mean score of registered students, but within one standard deviation of the mean. The pass mark reflects the capability level of the majority of students graduating from approved programs of study.

The Board approved revised National exam guidelines at its April 2022 meeting, and these are now published on our website

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Code of conduct – advance copy available now

An advance copy of the revised Code of conduct is available now and we encourage you to read and be familiar with it before it comes into effect on 29 June 2022. The code sets out our expectations of professional behaviour and conduct for medical radiation practitioners. You have a professional responsibility to apply this code in your practice, helping to keep the public safe.

There will be specific supporting materials developed for medical radiation practitioners and we will let you know when these are released.

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Students and graduates

Want to be part of an MRP student advocacy and reference group?

The Board engages with a range of organisations and professional groups to gather information about things important to regulation of the medical radiation practice profession. One of the voices missing from this engagement is that of medical radiation practice students.

We are working with an education provider to help students to establish and maintain a students’ advocacy and reference group. The Board will meet with the student group on a regular basis, usually twice a year, to discuss aspects of the profession and the experiences of students.

If you are a student in an approved program of study and you are interested in joining the student group, please email us at [email protected].

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Latest workforce data released

The Board’s latest quarterly registration data has been released. The report covers 1 October to 31 December 2021. At this date, there were 18,879 registered practitioners (including 286 on the pandemic response sub-register): 14,827 diagnostic radiographers, 2,737 radiation therapists and 1,300 nuclear medicine technologists. 

For more details, including registration data by principal place of practice, age and gender, visit our Statistics page.

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National Scheme news

The 2021 pandemic response sub-register gets a boost

More than 20,000 health practitioners are now on the 2021 pandemic response sub-register after practitioners on the 2020 sub-register opted in to extend their temporary registration.

The 2020 sub-register was established in April 2020 to provide a surge health workforce to support the COVID-19 response. Inclusion was voluntary and practitioners could opt out at any time. The temporary registration of practitioners on the 2020 sub-register expired on 5 April 2022. In September 2021, Ahpra and the National Boards established a new sub-register (the 2021 sub-register), enabling recently retired practitioners from 12 regulated health professions to return to practice for up to 12 months.

There are now 20,750 health practitioners with temporary registration to support the COVID-19 response. They are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, dental practitioners (all divisions), diagnostic radiographers, medical practitioners, midwives, nurses, occupational therapists, optometrists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and psychologists.

All practitioners on the 2021 sub-register can work to the full scope of their registration (subject to any notations). Their registration expires on 21 September 2022. However, if governments alert Ahpra and the National Boards to significant changes in need, the sub-register may stay open for longer.

For more information, see the pandemic response sub-register and FAQs for practitioners. There are also FAQs for employers.

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Facilitating access to care in a COVID-19 environment

Ahpra and the National Boards recognise that registered health practitioners have led the remarkable public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and commend them for their sustained efforts.

National Boards expect all health practitioners to facilitate access to care regardless of someone’s vaccination status. People cannot be denied care if steps can be taken to keep the person, health practitioners and their staff safe.

Good practice involves keeping health practitioners, staff and patients safe. Some practitioners may be considering how best to do this while also facilitating access to care in the current COVID-19 environment.

Ahpra and the National Boards have developed guidance to help support good practice in this context. The guidance reinforces existing codes and guidelines and other publicly available information and does not introduce new or different requirements for practitioners.

National Boards expect practitioners to first comply with public health orders in their state or territory. The principle of safely facilitating access to care should then guide decisions about treating people in a COVID-19 environment.

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What’s the point of protected titles?

Recently, there’s been some debate about protected titles and how they work to protect the public. Ahpra and the National Boards provide the following guidance to help inform the discussion.

What is a protected title?

In Australia, the titles of registered health professions are 'protected' by law. This is important because they can act as a sort of shorthand for patients and consumers. When someone uses a protected title (for example, ‘medical radiation practitioner'), you can expect that person is appropriately trained and qualified in that profession, registered, and that they are expected to meet safe and professional standards of practice.

The protected titles under the National Law can be accessed on the Ahpra FAQs page.

Health Ministers recently consulted on whether ‘surgeon’ should be a protected title under the National Law, and in what specialties it should apply, or if other changes should be made to help the public better understand the qualifications of medical practitioners. For more information on the consultation, visit the Engage Victoria website.

Read the news item for more details on this topic.

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Senate Committee tables its report

The Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee has tabled its report on the inquiry into the Administration of registration and notifications by Ahpra and related entities under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.

Ahpra actively engaged with the inquiry, with representatives of Ahpra, the Agency Management Committee and Community Advisory Council all appearing. There were public submissions and stakeholder appearances.

We will consider the recommendations directed to Ahpra and National Boards and contribute to the Australian Government response, as requested.

The report is available on the Inquiry web page.

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Latest podcasts tackle big subjects

Ahpra releases fortnightly episodes of the Taking care podcast, discussing current topics and the latest issues affecting safe healthcare in Australia. You can access these on the Ahpra website or listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking care’ in your podcast player. Recent episodes include:

Health practitioners’ role in eliminating family violence – a survivor’s story

The first episode of Taking care for 2022 is a powerful and honest conversation about family violence and the role of health practitioners in helping survivors.

Tackling the blame culture to improve patient safety – is it possible?

What is the best approach to support a practitioner’s professional practice to ensure patient safety? How do we regulate when honest errors occur in a workplace environment?

What needs to change to make cosmetic surgery safer for patients?

A consumer shares her good and bad surgery experiences, and consumer advocates Maddison Johnstone and Michael Fraser join CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland to share some of the red flags for consumers and contemplate what a safer system could look like.

Alan Kirkland is on a panel for the independent review into cosmetic surgery commissioned by Ahpra and the Medical Board of Australia. More information about the review is on the Ahpra website.

Two voices from LGBTIQA+ communities

In this episode, we hear stories of people in LGBTIQA+ communities and their experiences and challenges accessing healthcare. They offer their advice for others experiencing the same and about what practitioners can do to better support these communities.

Keep an eye out for new episodes fortnightly.

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Keep in touch with the Board

  • Visit our website for the mandatory registration standards, codes, guidelines and FAQs.

  • 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 9285 3010 (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: Cara Miller, Chair, Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

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Cara Miller
Page reviewed 27/04/2023