October 2018

Issue 20


Chair’s message

Welcome to the Spring edition of our newsletter.

In this edition we speak with Russell Booth, Chief Nuclear Medicine Technologist at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne and Secretary of the Victorian Society for Nuclear Medicine Technology (VSNMT). Russell talks to us about the VSNMT’s work in developing a CT training program for nuclear medicine technologists. He also talks about the philosophy of Choosing Wisely.

We also have a few reminders for practitioners:

  • make sure you renew your registration before 30 November 2018 – otherwise late fees apply
  • the CPD triennium ends on 30 November this year, and
  • supervised practitioners and principal supervisors need to ensure that supervised practice arrangements are approved before practice begins.

Thanks to all those registered practitioners that gave us feedback on the content of the last edition of the newsletter. If you have any feedback, or if there are topics that you would like to see covered in the newsletter, please feel free to contact us at MedicalRadiation.PracticeBoardofAustralia@ahpra.gov.au.

I’m looking forward to seeing some of you at the Regulation and Practice conference in Sydney on Tuesday 27 November 2018. It’s free to attend the conference. Click on our conference page to register.

Happy reading.

Mark Marcenko
Chair, Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia

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News from the Board

Listening to your views — Russell Booth, Victorian Society of Nuclear Medicine Technologists

Portrait of Russell Booth

Russell Booth is Chief Nuclear Medicine Technologist (NMT) at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne. He is also the secretary of the Victorian Society of Nuclear Medicine Technologists (VSNMT) and served for many years on the Victorian Radiation Advisory Committee, the Ministerial Advisory Committee for Allied Health and the RMIT University Program Advisory Committee on medical radiation.

He spoke to the Board about the VSNMT, shared his thoughts on medical radiation practitioner regulation and the importance of the appropriate use of medical radiation services by the public.

Tell us about VSNMT

The VSNMT is a professional organisation representing the interests of nuclear medicine technologists. Founded in 1969, it plays an active role in developing nuclear medicine professionals. The VSNMT advocates for nuclear medicine technologists in healthcare and the broader community and participates in partnerships with government and healthcare providers to deliver quality care to the community. We provide education to students, and are actively involved in partnerships that deliver continuing education for practitioners and encourage dialogue between all diagnostic imaging professionals to continuously improve patient care.

How did you first become involved in VSNMT and what is your current role?

I was encouraged as a very junior member of the technologists’ community to become involved in the issues affecting our profession and enjoyed the chance to contribute.

In my current role I liaise with government and other professional bodies, as well as supporting the day-to-day management and project work of VSNMT. At the moment I am updating the VSNMT constitution and structure with the support of our secretariat. I am also involved with an education sub-group which organises seminars and online learning activities to support members.

Tells us about your experience of working with the Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia

I have worked with the Board since its inception in 2010 and more recently have contributed to the Board’s supervised practice program for graduates. I have a keen interest in the quality of graduates entering the profession and so contributed to the discussion around the program’s capabilities document.

What contribution do you think the Board and regulation of medical radiation practitioners make to patient safety?

I believe the Board has a critical role in ensuring the quality and safety of patient care delivered by medical radiation professionals. The Board has supported our assessment processes ensuring the standard of entry-level practitioners and promoted the importance of continuing professional development (CPD). An important part of this is providing support and guidance for technologists who are returning to work or need to update their skill set.

What do you think is important for good medical radiation practice?

You should always return to the reason why you are doing this job – to provide the best care you can for your patients. Remember to always remain focused on the patient. Part of this is being a lifetime learner. The Board’s CPD requirements are critical for best patient care but also job satisfaction. Practitioners should read the CPD standard and guidelines, understand them and apply them to their work.

What are the top three things the Board and AHPRA should do to bring out the best of the National Scheme?

First, maintain a constant two-way communication with the professions.

Second, ensure the Board is aware of the technological advances coming into profession and how they affect practice. The professional silos are constantly shifting. The Board can lead on how barriers can be broken down and new practices implemented.

Third, ensure education providers are up to date and have a strong relationship with facilities providing clinical experiences. There is significant pressure on clinical centres to provide undergraduate training. I think the Board should consider other strategies such as simulation to enable overseas-trained and return-to-work practitioners with opportunities to update their skills.

Tell us about Choosing Wisely. What is it and why is it important for medical radiation profession?

I am very interested in quality improvement and Choosing Wisely challenges the notion that ‘more is better’ in healthcare. Unnecessary tests and procedures waste time and resources, deliver more radiation, sometimes delay other patients and impose an otherwise avoidable cost on the health system.

Choosing Wisely has gained traction worldwide and is particularly relevant to medical radiation practitioners. The initiative is helping healthcare providers, including practitioners, and consumers start important conversations about improving the quality of healthcare by eliminating unnecessary and sometimes harmful tests, treatment and procedures.

Medical radiation practitioners have an obligation to have the conversation with other health practitioners and referrers about the justification for imaging, the need to limit radiation exposure or unnecessary examinations. There are various evidence-based recommendations about when nuclear medicine and other medical imaging tests are justified and when they are not.

In hospital settings medical radiation practitioners are often on the front line, particularly with junior medical staff, and can influence decision-making for the better. The VSNMT will be educating members about Choosing Wisely in the upcoming months.

To find out more go to the Choosing Wisely Australia website.

Anything you would like to add?

Yes, I think it is important to remind practitioners to keep up to date with the development of new technologies. These developments illustrate the increasing overlap of each professional group within medical radiation practice.

We have seen this overlap most prominently with the introduction of CT in nuclear medicine imaging. Today many nuclear medicine technologists perform diagnostic CT scans when traditionally these were performed by diagnostic radiographers. Importantly it’s the patient that benefits when both types of diagnostic imaging can be done at the same time.

The catalyst for change has been professional education. With the support of the Victorian Department of Health, diagnostic radiographers, other health professions and educators we developed a pilot program for training practitioners in CT. The pilot was well accepted and now 10 years on the VSNMT program has seen 185 nuclear medicine technologists in Australia and New Zealand complete the online course.

Technology will be a continuing driver of practice in the profession and I believe the Board has a major role to play in how the profession accommodates these advances so each practitioner has the necessary skill set to fully utilise the technology.

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Supervised practitioners — enrol in the program before you begin practice

Supervised practice is an important part of regulating any health profession and it imposes obligations on supervised practitioners and principal supervisors alike.

The Board has provided Supervised practice guidelines that outline the expectations and obligations of practitioners involved in supervised practice while the Supervised practice program guide outlines the program requirements. We expect supervised practitioners and principal supervisors to be familiar with the guides.

Enrolling in the program

Before a program starts, the supervised practitioner must enrol in the Supervised Practice Program using the APSP-91 form. Supervised practitioners must not start supervised practice until their enrolment in the Supervised Practice Program is confirmed by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

Starting supervised practice before receiving Board approval may be in breach of the registration type or a breach of the conditions imposed on registration, and this can have serious consequences for the supervised practitioner.

Supervision plan

Principal supervisors must submit the PDEC-91 form within 28 days of supervised practitioner starting practice, which must include a supervision implementation plan. The supervision plan should identify the following:

  • the area of practice (modality), clinical settings and patient/client presentations that the practitioner will work in and carry out during each quarter of the program, and
  • the elements of the capabilities that will be assessed using case discussions.

For further information, please visit the Board’s supervised practice webpage.

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Appointments to the Accreditation Committee

In July the Board appointed several new members to the Medical Radiation Practice Accreditation Committee (the committee).

‘I would like to thank Professor Marilyn Baird who has held the role of Chair of the Accreditation Committee since it was established in late 2013,’ National Board Chair Mr Mark Marcenko said. ‘I also thank Associate Professor Deb Starkey as an inaugural committee member. Both Marilyn and Deb have contributed significantly to establishing the accreditation arrangements for the profession. I also thank Mr Chin Hwa Chan for his contribution to the committee since July 2017.’

‘We are pleased to have Professor Brian Jolly as the new Chair of the committee,’ Mr Marcenko said. ‘And we are fortunate to have a committee whose combined experience and expertise will lead the accreditation functions for the profession into the next decade.’

The Accreditation Committee members are:

  • Professor Brian Jolly (Chair)
  • Associate Professor Sarah Lewis (Deputy Chair)
  • Dr Daphne James
  • Dr Sharon Maresse
  • Mrs Jane Shepherdson
  • Dr Louise McCall
  • Mrs Allison Dry, and
  • Ms Natalie Pollard.

‘The Accreditation Committee exercises the important functions of accreditation under the National Law for the medical radiation practice profession,’ Professor Jolly said. ‘It assesses whether programs of study and education providers are meeting the accreditation standards and decides whether or not to accredit the provider and program.’

For more information about accreditation and approved programs of study visit the Accreditation page on the Board’s website.

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Research investigating the health effects of radiation exposure for nuclear medicine technologists: invitation to participate

From time to time the Board is asked to help with research projects that are related to medical radiation practice and have a connection to the Board’s role in regulating the profession. We have agreed to provide information in our newsletter about a research project focusing on the health effects of occupational radiation exposure in nuclear medicine technologists. Participation in the research project is voluntary and all information provided as part of the project’s online survey is done so anonymously.

The online survey has been developed as part of Samantha O'Brien's Higher Research Degree at the University of Newcastle. Samantha is supervised by Associate Professor Helen Warren-Forward and Dr Daphne James. The research has been approved by The University of Newcastle Human Research Ethics Committee (H-2018-0087).

The aim of the research is to:

  1. Investigate the health effects of chronic low-level radiation exposure in nuclear medicine technologists.
  2. Investigate attitudes, perceptions and beliefs of Australian nuclear medicine technologists with regards to occupational radiation exposure.
  3. Investigate the lifestyle factors of Australian nuclear medicine technologists.
  4. Assess the health and medical conditions of Australian nuclear medicine technologists.

The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete.

To read the participant information statement for this research study please go to: www.surveymonkey.com/r/nmthealthsurvey

There is a ‘continue’ option at the end of the participant information statement for those who wish to complete the survey. If you would like more information please contact Samantha O'Brien (email: samantha.a.obrien@uon.edu.au, phone: 0423491903).

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National Scheme news

AHPRA to conduct pilot audit of advertising compliance in early 2019

A pilot audit to check health practitioner compliance with advertising requirements will be conducted by the AHPRA in early 2019.

The pilot audit has been modelled on the well-established approach to auditing compliance with core registration standards and involves adding an extra declaration about advertising compliance for two professions when applying for renewal of registration in 2018. (The National Law1 enables a National Board to require any other reasonable information2 to be included with a renewal application.)

The National Boards for chiropractic and dental are taking part in the pilot audit.

When applying to renew their registration, chiropractors and dental practitioners will be required to complete a declaration about their advertising compliance. The pilot audit will not delay a decision on the application for renewal.

Random audits of advertising compliance will advance a risk-based approach to enforcing the National Law’s advertising requirements and facilitate compliance by all registered health practitioners who advertise their services.

Regulatory Operations Executive Director Kym Ayscough said the audit for advertising compliance would provide opportunities to extend the current action under the Advertising compliance and enforcement strategy launched in April 2017.

‘This pilot audit will potentially improve compliance with advertising obligations across the entire registrant population, not just those who have had an advertising complaint,’ Ms Ayscough said.

‘It will also provide opportunites to become more proactive in preventing non-compliant advertising by registered health practitioners.’

The audit will be carried out by AHPRA’s Advertising Compliance Team from January 2019 and will involve a random sample of chiropractors and dental practitioners who renewed their registration in 2018.

‘One of the audit’s main objectives is to analyse the rate of advertising compliance for those practitioners who advertise and who have not been the subject of an advertising complaint in the past 12 months,’ Ms Ayscough said.

Other objectives of the audit are to:

  • inform the evaluation of the compliance and enforcement strategy
  • establish the rate of advertising compliance within the professions, and
  • address any non-compliance with advertising obligations identified during the audit.

A pilot audit report addressing the above objectives and including data analysis and recommendations will be prepared for National Boards to consider the pilot outcomes and implications for future compliance work.

For information about your advertising obligations see AHPRA’s advertising resources page.


1 The Health Practitioner Regulation National La, as in force in each state and territory
2 Section 107(4)(e) of the National Law

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New results format for OET English language test; registration standards remain unchanged

AHPRA and the Medical Radiation Practice Board have started accepting an updated format of test results for the Occupational English Test (OET).

All National Boards have a registration standard for English language skills, which require applicants for initial registration to demonstrate English language skills to be suitable for registration. The OET is one of the English language skills tests accepted by the Medical Radiation Practice Board.

The English language level being tested by OET remains the same. Test takers are not being measured differently, with the only change being the way the OET scores are described. As such, the National Boards’ English language skills registration standards referring to OET have not changed. Rather, updates have been made to internal systems and relevant application forms to accommodate and reflect the new numerical scale. You can read more in the news item.

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Call for applications for appointment to AHPRA Agency Management Committee

The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme) regulates over 700,000 registered health practitioners and 160,000 registered students. It also accredits over 740 approved programs of study delivered by more than 330 education providers.

Applications are now sought for appointments to the governing board of AHPRA. Multiple vacancies exist for:

  • members with expertise in health and/or education and training, and
  • members with expertise in business and administration.

Applications are also sought for the role of Chair.

For information on the role, eligibility requirements and to download the application form, visit http://www.ahpra.gov.au/About-AHPRA/Agency-Management-Committee.aspx.

All appointments are made by the Ministerial Council for up to three years, under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory.

For enquiries, please contact statutoryappointments@ahpra.gov.au.

Please send applications to statutoryappointments@ahpra.gov.au by 5pm AEDT on Monday 29 October 2018.

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Keep in touch with the Board

  • Visit the Medical Radiation Practice Board website 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 online enquiry form.
  • 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 22/01/2019