Rheumatology trainee selection up for debate at ASM

3 minute read

“Are we getting the trainees we need to service the broader community?” asks panel.

After the official conclusion of the ARA ASM on Sunday comes a session that promises to stimulate discussion and debate on rheumatology trainee selection and workforce issues, and ultimately what makes a ‘good’ rheumatologist.

Featuring Dr Andrew Lim, Professor Michael Shanahan and Dr Arvin Damodaran, the session has something to offer future trainees, as well as established rheumatologists, hospital heads of units and anyone involved in medical education.

Dr Andrew Lim spoke to Rheumatology Republic about what to expect at the session, as well as what prompted it in the first place.

“The big issue with selection processes is: are we getting the trainees we need to service the broader community?

“There has been a lot of discussion on various committees over the years about whether we’re selecting appropriate trainees, not just in terms of what may be considered a ‘good’ trainee but also whether selection of trainees can influence the delivery of rheumatology care to the entire population,” said Dr Lim.

Selection processes are varied, but are largely based on a CV, addressing selection criteria or personal statement, references and an interview, said Dr Lim.

“Obviously there are different needs around Australia – rural and remote needs, do we need more rheumatologists in private settings, do we need more researchers, or rheumatology educators?  And the needs of say Western Australia, which is a geographically vast state, may be different to a smaller state.

“And there may be selection processes that influence the type of clinician you’re attracting,” said Dr Lim.

For example, he said, there’s evidence, based on medical student selection, suggesting that candidates who attended school in rural areas were more likely return to those areas to work in the future – so sociodemographic background may influence the workforce and service delivery to regional areas.

Dr Lim, who has a particular interest in medical education, sits on the ARA Education, Training and Workforce Committee (ETWC) and has previously been on the RACP advanced training committee. He explained that each state has its own selection processes, and in the meeting will talk about the different selection methods utilised.

Basic physician trainees interested in becoming a rheumatologist can learn what each state does, the potential selection methods and what may be required of them in their application for training.

Meanwhile, Professor Shanahan, who currently chairs the RACP advanced training committee, will highlight the issues that need consideration in selection of trainees, and pose questions that can hopefully be addressed with further dialogue.

Dr Damodaran, who chairs the ARA ETWC, will be talking about some of the outcomes of the rheumatology workforce survey (which will be presented by Professor Catherine Hill on Saturday afternoon) and how they may tie in with these training issues.

Some of the discussion points revolve around the need – if any – for a formalised selection process, a state-by-state versus national approach and whether there should be guidance from the ETWC.

“We need to start having these discussions, and hopefully, this may become a permanent fixture at future meetings to refine, and potentially define selection processes,” said Dr Lim.

“So, clinicians that are involved in selection can have these open discussions and try and determine what we actually need– because if we extract some information from the workforce survey about deficiencies in the workforce, this may even influence how we select trainees in the future.”

Sunday 22 June – 1345 WST (1545 AEST) Selection into Training – Selection processes, what makes a ‘good’ rheumatologist, workforce needs and the College perspective. With Dr Andrew Lim, Professor Michael Shanahan and Dr Arvin Damodaran (Sunday sessions are online only).


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