Dean, Faculty of Radiation Oncology, RANZCR
According to a report released on World Cancer Day, cancer is now the leading cause of death worldwide. As medical professionals providing cancer care, we have huge challenges ahead. The Faculty is committed to working closely with all stakeholders to advocate for increased and improved services. We also need to take any possible opportunity to influence decision making from hospital to government levels, to improve healthcare in Australia and New Zealand.
In March, Professor Gill Duchesne decided to step down as Dean of the Faculty of Radiation Oncology, due to personal reasons. I am honoured to be appointed by the RANZCR Board to fill the casual vacancy until the end of 2014.
Prof Duchesne has made significant contributions to the running of the Faculty and the College by serving on Council/Board since 2001. She has demonstrated dedication to and impeccable leadership in various Faculty initiatives – including the Tripartite Radiation Oncology Practice Standards, the Tripartite National Strategic Plan for Radiation Oncology and the recent Radiation Oncology Targeting Cancer Campaign. The Faculty and the College are very appreciative of Prof Duchesne’s tireless work and significant contributions over the last 13 years at both Victorian and bi-national levels.
I am currently the Head of Radiation Oncology at Liverpool and Campbelltown Hospitals in south western Sydney. I have been on the Faculty Board/Council since 2011, and have been the Chair of the Economics and Workforce Committee since that time. I have had the opportunity to assume leading roles in the Faculty’s Horizon Scanning and the annual Radiation Therapy Innovation Summit, as well as work related to radiation oncology funding and workforce issues.
I look forward to leading the Faculty and working closely with all stakeholders to advocate for optimal patient care that is safe, accessible, efficient, affordable and of the highest quality.
The Faculty, on behalf of the Radiation Oncology Tripartite Committee, hosted an Innovation Summit, as well as a Tripartite Stakeholder Forum in Canberra on 4 February (World Cancer Day). Representatives from the federal and state governments in Australia, cancer peak bodies, consumer organisations and medical professions participated in discussions on contemporary radiation therapy, and implementation strategies for the Tripartite National Strategic Plan for Radiation Oncology (2012 – 2022).
A report on the Forum is available on the RANZCR website: www.ranzcr.edu.au/component/docman/doc_download/3038-2014-ro-tripartite-stakeholder-forum-report. Workforce and quality issues such as the national standards are a major priority for our sector.
The Faculty will continue to engage with governments and stakeholders in the broader cancer arena to advocate for radiation oncology as an essential pillar of cancer control.
Delivery of safe and high quality radiation therapy services is of paramount importance to our patients. The Faculty, through the Quality Improvement Committee, is developing a number of guidelines and position papers on quality matters – including the use of imaging in radiation oncology, delivery of stereotactic body radiation therapy and volumetric delineation. These will become available on the College website over the coming months.
The Faculty’s Horizon Scan Position Paper on Radiation Oncology Techniques and Technologies presents our position on the uptake of techniques used for safe delivery of high quality radiation therapy. This document was recently updated with the latest available evidence and is now available on the College website at www.ranzcr.edu.au/resources/consumers/764-radiotherapy-technologies.
Research and academia as foundations of future radiation oncology practice has been identified as one of the key areas for development in the next decade. The Faculty is committed to providing world class specialty training and promoting research in radiation oncology.
A position statement on Clinical Academic Pathways in Medicine was released by the Australian Medical Association (AMA) last year, and is available at https://ama.com.au/position-statement/clinical-academic-pathways-medicine-2013.
The Faculty council strongly supports the position statement and agrees that there is an urgent need to encourage more junior doctors to choose a clinical academic career path. Federal and state governments, health departments, universities, medical colleges and research institutes must work together to develop a strategy to cultivate and retain a well-trained and skilled clinical academic workforce.
The Faculty has developed a clinician-scientist pathway as part of its training program, which will enable trainees to undertake full-time research activities while maintaining the quality of clinical radiation oncology training. The model of the ‘clinician-scientist’ is becoming more attractive as a means of combining specialist training with a formal research higher degree, and there are a growing number of trainees seeking to engage with this model. Details about this program are available from the RANZCR website at www.ranzcr.edu.au/research/radiation-oncology/research-opportunities
In order to provide trainees with an environment which promotes academic development, the Faculty also recently introduced the Research Mentorship position, to assist those trainees embarking on research for the first time and to promote a culture of research in the profession.
The Faculty looks forward to collaborating with all radiation oncology practices and other stakeholders to promote and foster a research culture in the radiation oncology sector, and to make Australia an international leader in radiation oncology research, to ultimately improve patient outcomes.