Busy times

9 Nov 2016

The AMA Council of Doctors in Training (CDT) meets in person three times a year to discuss issues affecting the 30,000 or so doctors-in-training across the country. The last weekend of October was the last face-to-face meeting of the year for us, and in a solid sign of productivity, the number of pages in the agenda was greater than the millimetres of rainfall over the weekend. I try every meeting not to die from some horrible disease as I trade 38ºC days for 8ºC days. So far, so good. CDT is comprised of representatives from every State and Territory, as well as the training colleges and observers from other stakeholder bodies. We talk about issues affecting medical students, all the way through to new fellows, and our end of year meeting always has a focus on the bigger picture. 

The agenda was dominated with issues of medical education and training. It’s been a curious year for pre-vocational medical education, with a huge amount of attention placed on internship while the government has refused to renew funding for the Confederation of Prevocational Medical Education Council (CPMEC). We took this opportunity to revamp our entire suite of prevocational medical education and training standards, to shore up how we believe pre-vocational medicine should work in Australia. 

We also look at the vocational end of the spectrum, by laying out clear standards on examination and assessment, to help to clarify the muddy waters around assessment policies. We examined the current situation around trainee disputes, and we’ve also endorsed best practice guidelines for complaints management processes. Equity continues to take on a bigger presence within CDT, and we continued our work on equal opportunity in the workforce, as well as support for Indigenous trainees and progression to fellowship. Top it all off with a conversation on the prospect of revalidation in Australia, and you have an awful lot to cover in such short time! 

Doctors’ health, wellbeing and safety forms another major arm of CDT’s work plan. The Doctors Health Advisory Services continue to reach State agreements, ensuring that doctors and medical students all over Australia have clear access to confidential medical services in their times of need. One of our major pieces of work this year, the National Code of Practice on Flexible Work Arrangements, has been completed. Once it is accepted by the AMA Federal Council, we hope to use it to drive change around flexible work in Australia, in a similar fashion to our work on safe working hours. Of course by now you would have seen the Safe Hours Audit. A huge thank you to all of you who completed the audit. Your information helps us drive the change that is so essential to a safe and healthy medical workforce. 

Finally, we looked at matters of engagement and communication. We’re busy organising our National Trainee Forum in March next year, as well as our Leadership Development Dinner at the AMA National Conference in Melbourne come May. We’ve created a new membership group to focus on the way the AMA integrates with and understands members, in the hope that we can make the AMA more relevant to doctors-in-training than ever before. We’re also continuing to develop the CDT Network, to make it easier for members to receive news directly from CDT and become involved at a national level. 

All that in only two days makes for a mammoth meeting, which wouldn’t be possible without the staff at the AMA and our two Deputy Chairs, Dr Chloe Abbott and Dr Kate Kearney. My thanks to all involved, including the trainee representatives from all the involved training colleges. There’s a busy road ahead with a lot of projects to get across the line over the coming years, but with the team we have at the table I know it’s possible. If you want to be more involved in any of the work done by CDT, please touch base with your State doctor-in-training representatives or give me a yell at cdt.chair@ama.com.au

Until next time,



Dr John Zorbas


AMA Council of Doctors in Training