Sport & Exercise Medicine Recognised Specialty in Australia

Congratulations to one of BJSM’s member societies, the Australasian College of Sports Physicians, for reaching another landmark in the road toward specialization. Below is the announcement by the Australian Medical Council. At BJSM, we appreciate that all countries aim to learn from each others’ efforts so this news is not just of significance in Australia. Congratulations to the ACSP!

Coincidentally, the upcoming December issue of BJSM (issue 14 for 2009) focuses on sports medicine specialization! That issue should be on the website mid-December after the early December issue of BJSM (issue 13, Injury Prevention Health Protection, IPHP, together with the IOC) that focuses on the Winter Olympics.


Recognition of Sport and Exercise Medicine as a Medical Specialty

13 November 2009

In November 2009, following on the advice received from the Australian Medical Council (AMC), the Commonwealth Minister for Health and Ageing announced that she has decided to recognise sport and exercise medicine as a medical specialty for the purpose of inclusion in the AMC List of Australian Recognised Medical Specialties.

The Minister’s decision does not automatically lead to the inclusion of this specialty on Schedule 4 of the Health Insurance Regulations 1975, which would grant patients access to rebates through Medicare Australia.

The education and training programs of the Australasian College of Sports Physicians were assessed by the AMC in November 2008. The AMC then advised the Minister for Health and Ageing that the education and training programs of the College met the criteria for AMC accreditation, thereby completing Stage 2 of the recognition procedure. The AMC assessment of specialist education and training programs is a collegial process for quality assurance and continuous quality improvement of specialist medical education and training programs. Listing on the AMC List of Australian Recognised Medical Specialties allows training providers to participate in the AMC’s accreditation of specialist medical education, training and professional development programs.

In 2002, in response to an invitation of the Commonwealth Minister for Health and Ageing, the AMC took on the responsibility for advising the Minister on which disciplines of medical practice should be recognised as medical specialties in Australia. The AMC manages a two-stage process that assesses applications for recognition against specific criteria and standards. In Stage 1, an application is assessed against specific recognition criteria. In Stage 2, the standards of the specialist education, training programs and continuing professional development programs available for the proposed medical specialty are assessed.

The decision to recognise a medical specialty rests with the Commonwealth Minister for Health and Ageing. Recognition as a specialty is conditional upon successful completion of both stages of this process and on the Minister having made a decision to recognise a specialty.

The overall objective of the College’s training is ‘to set and maintain a specialist standard of excellence in the training and practice of sport and exercise medicine’. To be granted College Fellowship, which leads to independent practice as a sports physician, medical practitioners must successfully complete the College’s four-year training program.

The AMC expert team’s assessment included visits to clinics; a review of College documents and interviews with College representatives; surveys of doctors completing sport and exercise medicine training and their supervisors; and submissions from external stakeholders such as health departments, other health professional bodies and university medical schools.

The report identifies and commends the significant strengths of the College’s training. The AMC found that while the College is small, it is active and produces competent specialists capable of practising independently. The report makes recommendations to improve the ACSP programs and plans, and to monitor the implementation of the changes. The report recognises the primary strength of ACSP training to be the development and implementation of a comprehensive and well documented training program with considerable multi-disciplinary input to training; regular formalised cycle of formative assessment; an active program of review for all aspects of the training curriculum; and a clear commitment to provide ongoing professional development for Fellows.

The team’s report also recommends the College develop more explicit learning objectives, a curriculum map and linked assessment blueprint for the training program. The team found that the College could develop policies to improve the involvement of consumers, registrars and other health practitioners in governance and review and assessment processes.

The Executive Summary of the accreditation report of the education and training programs of the Australasian College of Sports Physicians is available on the AMC website.

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