Articles and Case Studies

Report: AMA 2012 National Conference

17 Sep 2012

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) held its annual National Conference in Melbourne on 25-27 May. The conference was a milestone event for the AMA as it celebrated its 50th anniversary of being established since it became independent from the British Medical Association in 1962. Dr Andrew Perry Reports.

In keeping with its ethos of supporting the medical profession MDA National was heavily involved in this significant event for the AMA. We provided two speakers for the academic program and sent a large delegation consisting of members of the Mutual Board, President’s Medical Liaison Council (PMLC) and senior employees.

MJA, MDA National Prize for Excellence

MDA National President A/Prof Julian Rait awarded the 2011 MJA, MDA National Prize for Excellence in Medical Research – an award that honours the authors of the best original clinical research article published in the Medical Journal of Australia each calendar year. You can read more about the winners here.

The conference’s theme was “Leading in Medical Care” and this was explored through a combination of plenary and break-out sessions.

Leading for Difference

The first day commenced with the session “Leading for Difference” and featured Dr Christine Bennett, former Chair of the National Health and Hospital Reform Commission who reflected on how medicine has developed, likening its evolution to the transformation from a solo cowboy to a race car pit crew. This was followed by the Hon. Jim McGinty as Chair of Health Workforce Australia who put forward the view that the medical training pipeline needed to be organised and controlled by one organisation. He said currently there is a mismatch between graduating doctors and the amount of doctors we need, with the number of interns gaining registration being out of kilter with available specialty training places.

In what has become an annual tradition, and one which is often the highlight of the conference, the Health Minister, the Hon. Tanya Plibersek, and Shadow Minister the Hon. Peter Dutton, took to the stage to give their take on Australia’s health system and the role of the AMA and doctors within it – as well as vigorously critiquing the performance and credentials of both their own and the other speaker’s political party.

Global Health on our Doorstep

Other plenary sessions included “Global Health on our Doorstep” where three perspectives were provided on this issue including the health needs of Australia’s refugee population, how, where and why Australia’s foreign aid is being spent in the area of health, and the changing nature of global health issues with mental health and chronic disease becoming more of a challenge for aid agencies like Medecins sans Frontieres.

Health and the Environment

The session “Health and the Environment” featured former Australian of the Year Professor Tim Flannery who said medical systems had to prepare for the challenges that will eventually arise from climate change, such as developments in infectious diseases and increases in heat stroke.

Additional sessions included “The AMA and Indigenous Health”, “Mental Health, where to from here?”, “e-Health” and “MBBS vs MD”.

The keynote address was delivered by a highly distinguished international guest, Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham PC KBE, urologist and former UK Health Minister under Tony Blair who contrasted the UK’s health system and reform agenda with that of Australia. He also shared some anecdotes about what it was like to work as a politician with a medical background, including the time he successfully defibrillated an opposition politician out of cardiac arrest during a session of parliament.

Professionalism in the Workplace

In addition to these plenary sessions there were a number of breakout sessions, two of which featured MDA National speakers. In a panel session entitled “Professionalism in the Workplace” Dr Sara Bird, Manager, Medico-legal and Advisory Services, gave the perspective of a medical defence organisation on the issue of professionalism including how to help maintain it and what can happen if unprofessional behavior is alleged to have occurred.

In a separate session this author delivered a workshop on “How to be an effective meeting participant”.

All in all the conference was a very informative and enjoyable event with MDA National able to make a significant contribution to the occasion.

Dr Andrew Perry is an advanced trainee in emergency medicine and a Member of MDA National and our President’s Medical Liaison Council (SA).



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