Until the recent developments in Victoria, I thought Australia had fared better with COVID19 than many other countries. Luckily, and with good management, Tasmania seems to have recorded almost no new cases for a considerable period. Some aspects of business and life seem to be starting to go back to normal, but we need to “Prepare for the Worst and Hope for the Best”!

Many people are highlighting the value is a “reset” in relation to life and business for the future. Relevant to OEM is the experience of “working  from home” and use of technology. While COVID19 has caused loss and tragedy for individuals and business, let’s not miss the opportunity is has created to make improvements to our lives.

In Tasmania we have now have two trainee Occupational Physicians (officially Registrars in Occupational & Environmental Medicine), Dr Troy Crowell in the South and Dr Carlin White in the North.

TFOM will co-ordinate Training Days for the trainees, liaising with organisations to arrange visits and facilitate engagement with a range of organisations and workplaces relevant to workplace health and safety. More about that in future newsletters.

Carlin has put together his observations about becoming a trainee.


OEM Training

Now effectively halfway into my training it is a good time to reflect on the process thus far. The easiest way to do this is to contrast and compare it to Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) training for General Medical Practice.

GP training:

  • Approximately 30-40 registrars in Tasmania when I trained
  • Application process was very easy, and all candidates underwent entrance exam to determine their suitability to train.
  • Training process was coordinated and run by a private company (GPTT) on behalf of theRACGP
  • There was a local GP registrar coordinator, with monthly face to face meetings (for Launceston this was one coordinator to 4 registrars)
  • The GP coordinator was paid by GPTT and conducted all of the examinations during the training process. i.e. not the host practice
  • Practices employing registrars received funding of $7,000 per year/registrar
  • The Model of General Practice meant that registrars were paid a % of Medicare billings, to assist their living and training.
  • The Final Examination was run by the college

OEM training:

  • Currently there are only 2 trainees in Tasmania
  • As a constructive observation the application process to join RACP training program was substantially more difficult. Many of the required documents related to hospital training, and there was no clearly identified organising person/body handling my application. I was left with the impression that Occupational Medicine was a bit of an ‘orphan’ that wasn’t as important as hospital doctors.
  • There is no local training body equivalent to GPTT
  • There is no practice funding for medical businesses to host registrars
  • Previously Tasmanian trainees were part of an Australia wide regional training network, now we are part of Victoria
  • Examination of candidates during training is up to their individual coordinators
  • The Final examination is run by College

I think we can see from comparing and contrasting the two training models one simple factor seems to become apparent. The relative paucity of suitable and sustained support. This lack of support is not just for the trainees but also for those trying to train registrars.

I really think if the college wants registrars to continue to be trained in Independent settings (for example in real-world occupational medicine businesses, quite separate from corporate IME businesses) then the issue of lack of financial and education support needs to be addressed.

With the above noted there certainly are some very positive benefits to OEM training over that of GP training. Namely the freedom of the curriculum allows for a more tailored approach suiting the work environment, and the strengths/weaknesses of the registrar.

GP training on the other hand was very rigid with the teaching sessions aimed at getting everyone to a minimum standard.

If anyone would like to learn more about Registrar experiences please do not hesitate to contact me through the Tasmanian Foundation for Occupational Medicine Board Members

Carlin White

Registrar Occupational & Environmental Medicine

Editor’s Note

Thanks Carlin. This is what TFOM is all about. TFOM hopes to raise funds to support trainees financially and through facilitation training opportunities. COVID19 has set back out fundraising, but we are hoping to move forward again soon.

Peter Sharman

Secretary & Newsletter Editor