Issue 32 – May 2023
Welcome to our first newsletter for 2023. It’s been a productive start to the year for the Board and I hope also for you.
The Board will have a booth at the Australian Podiatry Conference 2023 in Brisbane in June, and we look forward to touching base with podiatrists who are attending. Please stop by and have a chat, Board members will be available to answer any questions you have about our work, including the codes, standards and guidelines.
In this edition, we share updates to our resources to support those of you who are working towards endorsement for scheduled medicines under Pathway B. We also have timely reminders about your continuing professional development and your infection prevention and control obligations, and advertising. And we launch some new resources to help you best manage health records.
You may have already noticed that our website has recently had a refresh. Have a look at our homepage to check out the new design.
Chair, Podiatry Board of Australia
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If you’re working your way toward an endorsement for scheduled medicines via Pathway B, you can now access our updated resources to help you understand what’s required.
There’s no change to the requirement that the evidence in your portfolio be clearly presented, labelled, signed where required, and accompanied by an evidence matrix to show which piece of evidence demonstrates what competency.
Importantly, note that if you’ve already completed some of your clinical studies using the old template, you can still submit them in that format. Any studies you develop from here on should be completed in the new format.
The updated FAQs answer a few new questions including:
We encourage you to have a look at these resources on the Endorsement for scheduled medicines page.
Last, a reminder that you must complete your period of supervised practice within 12 months. If you are unable to complete it within this timeframe, we may grant an extension of time in exceptional circumstances. The Board’s policy on when an extension may be granted is published on the Endorsement for scheduled medicines page and an application form for an extension to the period of supervised practice is available on the Forms page of our website.
Continuing professional development (CPD) is an important part of providing safe and effective podiatry services. It is how we, as registered health practitioners maintain, improve and broaden our knowledge, expertise and competence, and continue to develop the personal and professional qualities required throughout our professional lives.
The ongoing CPD cycle involves:
We encourage you to use the professional capabilities to reflect on your practice and plan your CPD activities for this year.
Our Continuing professional development (CPD) learning plan can also help you with planning your CPD. You can find it on the CPD resources page together with the registration standard and guidelines and other resources.
It is important that your CPD is relevant to your scope of practice and if your registration is endorsed for scheduled medicines, this includes activities relevant to your endorsement.
Effective infection prevention and control is central to providing quality healthcare for patients and a safe working environment for those who work in healthcare settings.
The Board’s Guidelines: Infection prevention and control provide guidance for podiatrists and podiatric surgeons about appropriate professional practice with respect to infection prevention and control in podiatry practice. As noted in our guidelines, the Board adopts the Australian guidelines for the prevention and control of infection in healthcare published by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC guidelines), which can be found on the NHMRC website.
You must be familiar with, and practise within the recommendations of the NHMRC guidelines as they apply to your work or practice setting(s). The guidelines address areas that are critical to safe podiatry practice, including:
You can find our Guidelines for infection prevention and control on the Policies, codes and guidelines page of our website, together with a self-audit tool that you can use to see how well you comply with the guidelines. We encourage you to use the self-audit tool as a checklist to ensure your workplace is clean and hygienic and you are taking the necessary feasible steps to prevent or minimise the spread of infection.
Late last year we did an audit of advertising by health practitioners. A random sample of podiatrists and podiatric surgeons were audited and of those that had some form of online advertising, 68% met all the advertising rules. Well done!
We thought it would be helpful to share some lessons from the 32% whose advertising didn’t comply with the rules. The most common issue related to use of specialist titles.
Podiatrists can advertise a ‘special interest in’ or ‘substantial experience in’ an area. However, you’re not permitted to call yourself a specialist or state that you specialise in a specific area of practice unless you hold specialist registration in that specialty. The only specialty for podiatry is podiatric surgery.
Here are some examples of claims considered false and misleading:
Other issues identified during the audit included:
As noted in the Advertising guidelines, ‘Doctor’ is not a protected title, but registered health practitioners must be careful about how they use ‘Doctor’ or ‘Dr’ in their advertising because the public historically associates the term with medical practitioners.
If you use the title ‘Dr’ in your advertising, then (whether or not a doctorate or PhD is held) it must be made clear that you are a podiatrist or a podiatric surgeon. For example, Dr John Citizen (Podiatrist) or Dr John Citizen (Podiatric Surgeon). Podiatric surgeons must always use their full protected title – ‘Podiatric Surgeon’.
We know that health practitioners want to do the right thing and advertise responsibly. We encourage you to use the resources and information available, including the self-assessment tool on the Advertising hub to help ensure your advertising complies with the National Law.
To help you better understand and meet your health record management obligations, the Board has developed two new resources. They are available on the Board’s website and Ahpra’s Resources page and include:
The one-page summary, Managing health records – Summary of obligations, aims to help you meet your health record management requirements. It summarises the related information in the Code of conduct and brings all the guidance on record keeping and management from the code into a single document.
The Managing health records – Self-reflective tool is designed to help you reflect on your record keeping and management processes and to identify opportunities for improvement.
The Board’s expectations about maintaining health records are outlined in the Code of conduct. In addition to these requirements, you must also consider state, territory or Commonwealth legislation about health records and privacy that may apply.
Other resources covering a range of topics to support your practice are available on Ahpra’s Resources page.
The Board’s latest quarterly registration data report covers the period to 31 March 2023. At this date there were 6,013 registered podiatric practitioners, including 5,804 with general registration, 41 with both general and specialist registration, and 168 with non-practising registration.
For further data breakdowns by age, gender and principal place of practice, visit the Board’s Statistics page to read the report.
We regularly publish court and tribunal summaries for their educational value to the profession. Links to past and recent cases can be found on the Board’s News page.
A Victorian podiatrist has been reprimanded and suspended for six months for practising for five years while unregistered, and not holding professional indemnity insurance during that period. Read more in the news item.
We extend a big welcome to our new podiatry graduates! You represent the future of the podiatry profession, and we wish you the very best in your new career.
We encourage you to watch our short video to delve into what it means now you are registered. You’ll hear from the Chair of the Board, two practitioner members and a community member.
When you’re just getting started it may seem like there is a lot of information to get your head around. Knowing where to begin can be daunting.
With this in mind, we want to highlight and encourage you to familiarise yourself with the profession’s Code of conduct. The code is an important document for podiatrists. It provides guidance about expected standards for practitioner behaviour and conduct. In defining these expectations, it helps to keep the public safe by supporting good patient care and delivery of services.
Download the Code of conduct and read the Resources to help practitioners including helpful FAQs.
Public protection is at the forefront in the latest round of reforms to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.
The changes started on 15 May, in all states and territories except Western Australia.
One significant change gives Ahpra and the National Boards a new power to issue a public statement to warn the public about a serious risk from an individual – either a registered health practitioner or a person who does not hold registration but is providing a health service. Issuing a public statement means we can warn the public about a serious risk at an early stage, while we continue to investigate. There is a high threshold that must be met to use the power, which we anticipate using sparingly and only in exceptional cases to better protect the public.
Read more in the public statements warnings FAQs.
Other changes will help us improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the National Scheme and help create a fairer system. These changes include:
Some of the changes do not apply in NSW, because of differences in how concerns are managed in that state. For example, the power to issue a public statement and the power to require information at an earlier point in the assessment process are already held by the Health Care Complaints Commission. Read more about the NSW regulators.
The changes are the latest in a wide range of reforms outlined in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2022, which came into law last October.
For more information, read the news item and the resources on the National Law amendments page on the Ahpra website.
New Easy English information about the shared Code of conduct is now available. This easier to understand information will help people in the community who find it hard to read and understand English know what standards of conduct they can expect from a podiatrist.
The shared Code of conduct applies to podiatrists and was updated last year to improve patient safety. As well as being a guiding document for health practitioners, the code is an important document for the public. The code outlines what the public can expect when they see a registered podiatrist or podiatric surgeon, including information about respect, culturally safe care, privacy and confidentiality, and communication.
The new Easy English information is on the Board’s website along with other resources for the public.
As well as resources for the public, there are resources to help practitioners understand and apply the code. These resources include FAQs and case studies and are available on the Board’s website.
For more information you can visit the Board’s Code of conduct page.
Building trust is fundamental to safe healthcare, as is responding effectively when a practitioner breaches that core responsibility to a patient. In Ahpra’s first Taking care podcast for the year we look at building trust in healthcare, how do we keep it, how can patients be better supported if things go wrong?
Rosalind Searle is a Professor of Human Resource Management and Organisational Psychology at the Adam Smith Business School at the University of Glasgow. She is inaugural director of the European Association of Work and Organisational Psychology (EAWOP) Impact Incubator.
Pointing to examples in Australia, Professor Searle provides a guide for strengthening processes and support mechanisms to boost trust in healthcare.
Another recent podcast is Racism makes us sick, with Associate Professor Carmen Parter discussing the impact of racism in healthcare. She points to her nursing days when there were almost no Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander faces seen working on the hospital ward and very little time given to the health needs of Indigenous people.
She talks about the cultural safety work being done and the challenges to make these policies a reality in our healthcare system. She has also seen intentional and unintentional racism in the system, which she is committed to helping reform.
'Racism makes us sick. Discrimination of all forms impacts the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It is now time for health policymakers and services to actually do something about discrimination or prejudiced practices in the workplace.’
In her work on Indigenous health and as a member of the Ahpra Board, Assoc. Prof. Parter is rolling out culturally safe policies across health and calling all to walk with her while tackling racism.
Our Taking care podcast series covers a wide range of current issues in patient safety and healthcare in conversation with health experts and other people in our community. Listen and subscribe by searching for 'Taking care' in your podcast player (for example Apple Podcasts or Spotify) or listen on our website.
Ahpra has recently established a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement and Support team (the support team) to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants, registrants and stakeholders through the registration process.
The support team forms part of Ahpra’s commitments to providing culturally safe services to its applicants, registrants and stakeholders.
The support team will focus on helping recent applicants and new graduates who have identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander on their application form. This applies to applicants across all 16 registered professions in the National Scheme.
The team’s one-on-one services range from providing helpful tips and tricks for navigating the registration process to regular phone contact, updates and advice on disclosures made on application (for example, impairments or previous criminal history) that may require consideration by the National Board.
The team plans to expand its services soon, which will include helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners with the renewals process, starting from 2023.
The support team is committed to ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners in all professions get registered or renewed promptly so they can focus on their contributions to safe healthcare and to their communities. Keep an eye out for regular emails from the team or reach out for help at email@example.com.
Members of the team will be attending community events and conferences relating to podiatry, as well as the other professions.
If you are a current student, contact your Indigenous Student Support unit for information.
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