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Trainee Support FAQs
 

Trainees and SIMGs, ever thought about contacting the Training Support Unit (TSU), but you weren’t sure if they could help?

Supervisors, have you ever been concerned about a trainee or SIMG’s wellbeing and wanted someone to talk to?

Please browse our FAQs below to find out how the TSU can support you. 

If you need support and would prefer to speak to someone outside the College, you can speak to Converge International, specialists in psychology and wellbeing. Your first four sessions within a 12-month period are paid for by the College; all sessions are entirely confidential. You can request a Converge session online. For more information, please visit our Membership and Wellbeing webpage.

You can access our Trainee in Difficulty Policy from our Policies and Procedures webpage.

Trainees, meet your local trainee representative here.

 

General


1. What does the Training Support Unit do?

The Training Support Unit (TSU) is a point of contact for trainees or SIMGs who are having difficulty with their training. This may be a personal issue impacting training, a workplace or training issue, or a combination.

You can contact the TSU for a confidential conversation. TSU staff will:
  • Assess: talk through the issue with you and establish the outcome you’re seeking
  • Support: suggest options you might not have considered and discuss what you might like to do next
  • Refer: to another College staff member if they are best placed to respond.

At all stages, you decide your course of action. TSU staff will only escalate a matter if you agree, unless your own, a patient’s or someone else’s safety is at risk. In these situations, TSU staff will discuss next steps with you.

The TSU is impartial and has no authority to compel anyone to take an action.
 

2. Who does the Training Support Unit support?

The Training Support Unit supports trainees in all our training programs:
 
  • Certificate of Women’s Health
  • DRANZCOG
  • DRANZCOG Advanced
  • FRANZCOG
  • Subspecialist programs.

The TSU also supports partially comparable SIMGs undergoing a period of oversight.
 

3. How do I contact the Training Support Unit?

The Training Support Liaison is available three days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you email on a non-work weekday, you’ll receive alternative contact details in the out-of-office reply.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (+61) 8 6102 2096

If you would like to be anonymous, please hide your number before you phone us.
 

4. Is the Training Support Unit confidential?

Yes, unless there’s an imminent risk to someone’s health or safety. It’s important that trainees and SIMGs to feel safe to contact the TSU.

Rest assured that your conversations with the TSU are confidential. We will only escalate a matter or share information if you agree, so that you retain your autonomy.

If you would like to be anonymous, please hide your number and phone us.
 

How we record data


We generally note your contact with us in a highly confidential spreadsheet. We record this information so that:
 
  1. if you contact us again, we have your contact history
  2. we can identify themes on where the College can improve.

The spreadsheet is locked down to select staff members in People and Wellbeing. It is completely separate from the training arm of the College. No identifying data is shared with other parts of the College, unless you expressly give us permission.

The TSU reports deidentified data and themes to the Trainees’ Committee and the College Training Accreditation Committee, who are both motivated to improve trainees’ experience in training. No identifying data is ever included in these reports.

If you have any concerns about how we record data, please let us know. We will respond to ensure you feel safe accessing the Training Support Unit.
 

5. I’m concerned about the wellbeing of a trainee or SIMG. How can I connect them to College support services?

You can contact us to let us know you’re worried about a trainee or SIMG. However, the TSU generally doesn’t initiate contact with a trainee or SIMG, because we want to give them the choice of whether they engage with us.

Rather than the TSU contacting the trainee or SIMG, we can give you our details for you to pass on to them. Here is some text you can copy and paste into an email.

The RANZCOG Training Support Unit (TSU) is a safe and confidential service for trainees and SIMGs to discuss any concerns related to their wellbeing. You can contact our Trainee Liaison on +61 (08) 6102 2096 or by email at [email protected].

If you need support and would prefer to speak to someone outside the College, you can access our Member Support Program via Converge International, specialists in psychology and wellbeing. All sessions are entirely confidential, and your first four sessions within a 12-month period are paid for by the College. To contact Converge, call 1300 687 327 (Australia), 0800 666 367 (New Zealand) or from other countries on +61 3 8620 5300. You can also request a Converge session online. For more information, visit our Member Support and Wellbeing webpage
 

6. Who should I contact if the matter is urgent and it’s outside of business hours?
 
If you need urgent help outside of business hours, please call:
  • Suicide Call Back Service ph. 1300 659 467 (Australia)
  • Lifeline ph. 13 11 14 (Australia) or
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline ph. 0508 828 865 (Aotearoa/NZ).

RANZCOG trainees (including CWH and DRANZCOG), SIMGs and Fellows can contact Converge 24 hours a day on:
  • 1300 687 327 (AUS)
  • 0800 666 367 (NZ)
  • +613 8620 5300 (overseas)

Australian members (including Diplomates) can access Drs4Drs Telemedicine support on:


Exams


7. How does the TSU support candidates preparing for an exam?

You can confidentially discuss any personal concerns with us about the exam and your preparation for it. We’ll support you to address your concerns in a way that works for your circumstances. We’ll also enquire about the strength of your support network.

You can access exam preparation resources:
Our member support and wellbeing hub contains a host of resources to help you take care of yourself, including a list of external support services in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.
For questions about exam administration and processes, please contact the assessments team at [email protected]

Click here for information on applying for special consideration for exceptional circumstances.
 

8. There was an incident during my exam – how can the TSU support me?

If you’ve failed an exam, we provide a confidential and supportive space for you to reflect on how you are feeling and on your exam performance. We’ll explore your next steps with you, such as changes you might make for your next attempt. If you’ve failed your final attempt, we’ll support you through the College’s Progression Review Committee process. 

Social support is crucial at this time, so we’ll ask about the strength of your support network.

For questions about exam administration and processes, please contact the assessments team at: [email protected]

Click here for information on applying for special consideration, reconsideration and exceptional circumstances.
 


Training


How can the TSU support me when …


9. … my last six-monthly assessment was unsatisfactory?

The TSU will reach out to you to see if you’d like to talk confidentially about how you’re feeling and how you found your previous training term. Together, we can talk through the challenges of your previous term and explore what factors you could potentially modify for your next rotation.

We can also support you through the process of creating a Learning Development Plan with your training supervisor.

We want you to embark on your next training term with a clear idea of what you need to improve and with the right supports in place for you. Many trainees who have received an ‘unsatisfactory’ outcome for a six-monthly assessment have gone on to become skilled and successful Fellows.
 

10. … I’ve been referred to the College Training Accreditation Committee regarding my training progress?

You’re most welcome to contact the TSU to debrief confidentially about how you’re feeling. You might feel anxious, upset or scared about the referral. We’re here to support you before and after the meeting.

You will have the option to make a written submission to the College Training Accreditation Committee. We encourage you to do this. Given the impartiality of the TSU, we can’t advise you on what to include in your submission. Generally, we recommend you outline any circumstances that affected your training and include evidence that backs up your claims (if applicable). You may include references or letters of support.  
 

11. … I’ve received unexpected negative feedback?

Unexpected negative feedback can be a shock and can really knock your confidence.

Sometimes you won’t know who gave the feedback, for example, if it is part of a consultant survey for a six-monthly assessment or in a three-monthly appraisal. If the feedback is deidentified, your training supervisor is a good person to talk to about the feedback. They will have aggregated feedback from several consultants, and might be able to give you their assessment of your performance and skills. If needed, they can work out a plan with you to address the feedback. It’s best to have this conversation in private and to give your supervisor advance notice of what you’re wanting to discuss.

If you know who gave you the feedback, you could ask them to meet with you to find out more, if you feel comfortable to do so.

See the Climate module, ‘Trainee feedback’ (under Communication) for tips on receiving feedback, including a section on how you can actively participate in feedback discussions.

Have compassion for yourself; it takes courage to ask for feedback. It shows self-awareness and responsibility. You can always contact the TSU to get support and talk it over.
 

12. … I’ve been referred to the Progression Review Committee?

You will have received a letter from the relevant committee Chair to let you know that you’ve been referred to the Progression Review Committee (PRC). It’s common to feel anxious, scared or distressed when you receive this news.

The TSU contacts everyone who has been referred to the PRC. Look out for an email from us asking if we can call you, to find out how you are and what supports you have around you.  If you don’t want to talk to us, you don’t have to.

Your referral letter will outline next steps and who to contact with questions about the PRC hearing.
 

13. … my training supervisor has recommended we prepare a Learning Development Plan?

You can talk to the TSU about how you found your previous training term and any feedback you received.

The most effective Learning Development Plans are a collaboration between a trainee and their training supervisor. The TSU can support you to seek specific and actionable feedback from your training supervisor.

We want you to embark on your next training term with a clear idea of what you need to improve and with the right supports in place for you.

You can download the template and guidelines from our Support Resources webpage; scroll down to Supporting Trainees in Difficulty > Learning Development Plans (LDP) for Trainees in Difficulty

For support with Learning Development Plan processes, email Training Services at: [email protected] or contact your local State and Territory or New Zealand office.
 

14. … I’m returning from extended leave?

You can complete a Training Support Plan with your Training Supervisor, to establish what support you need for your return to training.

You can now take three years of extended leave during your training. This was a recommendation of the ‘Parents in Training’ survey conducted by the Trainees’ Committee in 2019. Refer to the College Regulations for more information.
 

15. … I’m having difficulty with my research?

If you’re struggling with your research project, talk to your research supervisor first. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, please contact Training Services at: [email protected]

If you’re seeking an extension for your research requirement, please complete a special consideration application, address it to the College Training Accreditation Committee and submit it to Training Services at: [email protected]

You can read about your research requirements on our Research study webpage.
 


Mistreatment


16. I’ve been bullied, harassed or discriminated against in my workplace – how can the TSU support me?

RANZCOG’s Code of Conduct sets out our expectation that all members will act in alignment with our values and refrain from bullying, harassing or discriminating against others.
There are several ways you can respond if you’ve experienced or witnessed bullying, harassment or discrimination (BHD). When you contact us, we’ll clarify the outcome you are seeking. We can talk you through the options and discuss which one is right for you.

You may be worried about suffering detriment if you make a complaint. Rest assured that your conversations with the TSU are confidential. At all stages, you decide your course of action. The TSU will only escalate a matter if you agree, unless your own, a patient’s someone else’s safety is at risk.

You can complain to several bodies:
  • RANZCOG: see our Complaints Policy.  You can complain to RANZCOG about a breach of our Code of Conduct. However, if another body (such as your employer) is currently investigating the matter, RANZCOG generally would not start its own investigation.
  • your employer: see your employer’s policies. Employers are legally responsible for providing a safe workplace, including an environment free from bullying, harassment and discrimination.
  • for discrimination complaints, to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

If RANZCOG finds that someone has breached its Code of Conduct, sanctions can apply. For more information on sanctions, BHD definitions and support options, see our Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination Policy.

We also have a BHD resource guide that sets out:
  • College member roles and responsibilities
  • BHD examples
  • how to be supportive bystander.

If it’s suitable, you could consider speaking to the person who carried out the behaviour. The RACS Speak Up app helps doctors prepare for such conversations; it’s available from the Apple Store or Google Play. We acknowledge that the app will be appropriate for some, not but all, situations.

With your permission, the TSU can pass on feedback to the College’s accreditation team. If the feedback indicates that a training site may not be meeting our accreditation standards, the College has several interventions it can carry out, ranging from writing to the training site to conducting an out-of-cycle hospital visit. See ‘Ongoing monitoring of training sites’ in the Accreditation Standards & Guidelines for Hospitals in the FRANZCOG Training Program (May 2021 v1.5) for more information.
 

17. Does the Training Support Unit support SIMGs?

Yes! We support SIMGs assessed as ‘partially comparable’. We can’t answer questions about the SIMG assessment process because we are not the experts in this complex area. We’ll refer assessment questions to the SIMG team, while providing you with ongoing support. You can contact the SIMG team at: [email protected]

Our Wellbeing Coordinator supports SIMGs assessed as ‘substantially comparable’. Please contact our Wellbeing Coordinator at [email protected] or phone +61 3 9114 3939.
 

18. I’m experiencing a workplace issue – can the Training Support Unit help?

The College has limited jurisdiction in workplace issues. The lines between what is a workplace or College issue are not always clear. The following is some basic information. We encourage you to contact us to talk through which agency would be best placed to respond to your issue.

Employers are legally responsible for providing a safe workplace, including an environment free from bullying, harassment and discrimination. That said, all forms of bullying, harassment and discrimination constitute a breach of the RANZCOG Code of Conduct, including if it occurs in the workplace. See our Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination Policy for more information.

You can complain to RANZCOG about a breach of our Code of Conduct. However, if another body (such as your employer) is currently investigating the matter, RANZCOG generally would not start its own investigation. See our Complaints Policy for more information.

For industrial matters such as rostering or access to leave, the Australian or NZ medical associations may be able to help you if you’re a member. Please visit our membership and wellbeing hub for your local medical association contact details. 

RANZCOG accredits hospitals to deliver FRANZCOG training, and training units to deliver subspecialist training. Hospitals need to meet our standards to ensure that trainees can access the resources, clinical experience and learning environment to complete their training.

RANZCOG requires that training sites have zero tolerance for workplace bullying, harassment and discrimination. The training site also needs to have policies and processes to identify, investigate and resolve issues of workplace bullying, harassment and discrimination.

Where RANZCOG receives information that indicates that the hospital may not be meeting the requirements of the standards, the RANZCOG accreditation team will gather further information and may intervene, from writing to the hospital about a specific issue, to holding an out-of-cycle visit. See ‘Ongoing monitoring of training sites’ in the Accreditation Standards & Guidelines for Hospitals in the FRANZCOG Training Program (May 2021 v1.5) for more information.

Many medical defence organisations offer legal advice to their policy holders.

 

More information

 
Carly Moorfield
Training Support Liaison
Email: ​​[email protected]
Phone: +61 8 6102 2096
 

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