This article is an outline of the recent evaluation of the RANZCOG Pacific Associate Membership Program, released by the Board in May 2016. The full report can be accessed on the RANZCOG website at www.ranzcog.edu.au/members-services/associate-members/pacific.html.
Since 2007, RANZCOG has offered Pacific Associate Membership to medical practitioners who are recognised as specialists in obstetrics and gynaecology in a Pacific island country (PIC). This Membership includes compulsory participation in the RANZCOG Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Program for Pacific O&G Specialists, and residence in a PIC. The aim of the program is to support Pacific specialists who often work in professional isolation.
In 2015, the Pacific CPD Program for Pacific O&G Specialists Advisory Committee proposed that the Pacific Associate Membership Program be evaluated. The objectives of the evaluation were broad, looking at the delivery and impact of the program. At the time of the evaluation, there were 31 Pacific Associate Members, all participating in the CPD Program for Pacific O&G Specialists. Those that practice in the Pacific who were not Associate Members and stakeholders in the Pacific were also surveyed as part of the evaluation.
The key findings of the evaluation were largely positive. The program improved knowledge, skills and supportive networks and reduced the feelings of isolation of program participants. CPD activities such as reading, accessing educational resources, teaching, learning through teaching, audit meetings and guideline development were perceived by the participants to have improved their patient care to varying degrees.
Barriers to applying for Associate Membership have been addressed by the College over the past year, including removal of the previous annual subscription fee for Pacific Associate Members as from 30 June 2015. Matters pertaining to Associate Membership and the CPD Program are regularly communicated to Pacific colleagues and there is close collaboration with the Papua New Guinea O&G Society, the Fiji O&G Society and the Pacific Society for Reproductive Health on the provision of CPD support for specialist O&Gs in the PICs.
Analysis of the CPD program structure and participation revealed that a review of the requirements was timely and suggestions for improvements will be considered by the CPD Program for Pacific O&G Specialists Advisory Group. This Committee comprises Dr Alec Ekeroma (Chair), Profs Glen Mola and Rajat Gyaneshwar, A/Prof Amanda Noovao Hill and Drs Martin Ritossa, Miriam O’Connor and Arthur Elijah, along with College staff.
Consideration of the findings of this evaluation will strengthen the support provided by RANZCOG to Associate Members and contribute to capacity building of the O&G workforce in the PICs. The opportunity for Associate Membership and engagement in the RANZCOG CPD program is much appreciated by colleagues responsible for the provision of women’s health services in the Pacific. Suggestions for improvements to the program through further engagement with Associate Members and stakeholders are included in the findings of the evaluation.