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The Quarterly 2014

Research through partnership


Modern medical practitioners commit to life long learning and this means they are well placed to develop and communicate new knowledge. In the physician competency framework 1, doctors are expected to demonstrate a lifelong commitment to reflective learning, and to the creation, dissemination, application and translation of medical knowledge 2 . Medical managers as they exercise their work activities are always critically appraising information ahead of decision making.

In 2012, the RACMA trainees commenced a new training program to enhance health services research (HSR) skills in problem definition, data collection and analysis, and situated this in the everyday work context of the medical manager. This training program is designed to expose trainees to the research process including the ethics and governance of research activity. Three years on the Research Training Program is well underway 3. In June 2014 the first six candidates gave an oral presentation at their Communications Workshop in Melbourne. The feedback from candidates and assessors was very positive. Candidates presented their work (‘in progress’ and completed) and reflected positively on the formative feedback received throughout the past year.

Since the research training program commenced, the research working group has identified the need for an advanced pathway for those senior trainees who possess significant Health Services Research capability. Systems are now in place for the application of advanced standing; by those trainees who may be enrolled in the standard pathway or an accelerated pathway.

HSR is typically defined as multi-disciplinary research activity which has an emphasis on improving health services. The Health Services Research Association of Australia and New Zealand (HSRAANZ) makes the important distinction between HSR and single-discipline research in that it seeks to understand dimensions of health services from multiple perspectives. As such, RACMA trainees are encouraged to draw on research and theoretical frameworks from a variety of disciplines including medicine, nursing, allied health, psychology, sociology, political science, management science and health economics.

In parallel with this training program, the RACMA Board has been considering a strategy to support and strengthen research and publication about medical engagement, leadership and management. Compelling questions and research about medical engagement, leadership and management, and the relationships between these factors and the quality of care, are emerging in a new field of research. In recognition of the benefits of collaborative HSR, the Board has recently endorsed a collaborative venture with the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, under the direction of Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite. Deepening our understanding of healthcare quality in Australia (DUQuA). DUQuA is an NHMRC grant-funded research project based on similar research conducted recently in Europe, the main goal of which was to study the effectiveness of quality improvement systems in European hospitals 4. DUQuA will be conducted in many hospitals where RACMA Fellows work. In this way the research aims to link RACMA Fellows and Candidates with hospitals, supporting one another in research activities including providing guidance on completing ethics applications and facilitating data.

There will be opportunity for RACMA Candidates and Fellows to explore aspects of quality in the hospital setting using validated tools to benchmark performance. This partnership will enable Candidates and Fellows to benefit from the expertise of health services researchers through the provision of a deeper understanding of the real world challenges faced in establishing and successfully executing a research project, the potential to publish in peer reviewed journals, and to make a difference to the quality of care delivered to patients in Australia. An additional ‘bonus’ for Candidates is that they may simultaneously undertake their research-based case paper requirement in the Fellowship Training Program. Further career benefits for Candidates include:

  • Credit for UNSW Master of Health Management research methods*
  • Provision of research training and ongoing support from experienced academic researchers, including a comprehensive research guidance package
  • Assistance in developing a research question
  • Mentorship by a RACMA Fellow in your hospital
  • Access to data collected about your hospital, including national benchmarking results
  • Insight into processes for conducting a large healthcare research project.

For interested Fellows career benefits include:
  • Participation in a major research project undertaken in your hospital, including as a Local Principal Investigator on the Site Specific Assessment ethics application
  • Mentorship of a RACMA candidate in your hospital
  • Access to data collected about your hospital, including national benchmarking results
  • Insight into processes for conducting a large healthcare research project
  • Involvement in potential spin-off research projects undertaken in conjunction with the larger study, including the possibility of collaboration on peer reviewed publications.
  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points.

As a RACMA candidate or a RACMA Fellow your participation in the DUQuA project as a Medical Research Clinician will help contribute to the improvement of healthcare in Australia. This study will produce:

  • Outcomes that are relevant and important for improving hospital performance and the delivery of safe, high quality care in Australia
  • New ideas for future research partnerships to further our understanding and progress for improving the Australian healthcare system.

For further information about the project, please visit duqua.org.

*Any Candidate wishing to explore this ‘bonus’ is advised to discuss how this might work for them with the College AND WITH the DUQuA research team. There will be an opportunity to do this at the 2014 annual conference in Sydney in September. It has also been agreed by UNSW that credit may be available.

RACMA Research Working Party

1 Frank, J. and D. Danoff, The CanMEDS initiative: implementing an outcomes-based framework of physician competencies. Med Teach, 2007. 29(7): p. 642 - 647.
2 The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. CanMEDS Physician Competency Framework 2005 [cited 2012 February 20]; Available from: http://www.royalcollege.ca/public/canmeds/framework.
3 MacCarrick, G.R., Owen,K., Hearder,R., Preparing Evidence based Future Medical Leaders: An Australasian perspective. Asia Pacific Journal of Health Management 2014. 9 (1): p. 14-17.
4 Groene, O., et al., Investigating organizational quality improvement systems, patient empowerment, organizational culture, professional involvement and the quality of care in European hospitals: the 'Deepening our Understanding of Quality Improvement in Europe (DUQuE)' project. BMC Health Serv Res, 2010. 10: p. 281.

The Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators
RACMA Research Working Party, , p703
www.racma.edu.au /index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=703&Itemid=406