Home The Quarterly 2011 RACMA Candidate Survey Results 2011

The Quarterly


RACMA Candidate Survey Results 2011 Print E-mail
The Quarterly 2011


The Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators (RACMA) is a specialist medical college that provides education, knowledge and advice in the area of medical management.

In July 2011 the College contacted all RACMA candidates by e-mail and invited them to participate in an online survey to provide feedback about the Fellowship Training Program.

As in previous years there was a low response with only 44 out of 116 existing candidates participating in the survey; 59% candidates were from the Standard Pathway and 41%were from the Accelerated Pathway.

The College's objective is to use the Candidates’ view of their training experience to improve the training program delivery and provide feedback to the College Faculty and the Secretariat on the Candidates’ perceptions of their performance. From a total of 44 candidates who started the survey only 32 completed it.

The RACMA Fellowship Training Program provides for multiple entry pathways. These are:

  • Standard Pathway Candidates
  • Standard Pathway Candidates with some Advanced Standing (qualified doctors with significant prior management experience who were awarded up to 24 months advanced standing)
  • Accelerated Pathway Candidates (qualified doctors with significant prior management experience who were awarded > 24 months advanced standing)

To be successful in the training program candidates are expected to complete a Masters degree, undergo 3 years of supervised medical administration work experience (overseen by a supervisor) or less if they are given recognition of prior learning, complete written and oral tasks assessed by a preceptor, attend specific college workshops as per the college program requirements and pass an oral examination.

The survey design is based on the “Moments of Truth” model. Therefore Candidates’ feedback is sought about each of the critical “touch points” when College and Candidate interact e.g. application process, allocation of supervisor and preceptor, workshops, assessments, etc. The survey has 65 questions which do not necessarily apply to all the candidates as only Standard Pathway Candidates with or without advanced standing have to complete all the components/modules of the fellowship training program.

The Candidates

  • More than half of the respondents who answered this questionnaire (66%) are new candidates having started their training in 2011 (44%) and 2010 (22%) with only a very few having commenced prior to 2008 (12%).
  • The 44 survey respondents are well distributed across the training pathways with (41%) Accelerated Pathway Candidates, (36%) Standard Pathway and (23%) Standard Pathway with some Advanced Standing.

  • 8 of the 10 Standard Pathway Candidates with some advanced standing commented on the amount of advanced standing awarded. Most were given 18 or 12 months.

  • The majority considers that their advanced standing application was well assessed. One candidate did not know what had been taken into account to award him advanced standing.

  • 25 respondents completed their medical degree in Australia and 8 in New Zealand. The number varied slightly from last year regarding India, the UK and Ireland with 4 having completed their degree In India against 2 last year. 2 in the UK a slight decrease from the last year’s 5, and 2 in Ireland instead of 1. This year Singapore and South Africa were absent of the list and there were not new countries recorded.
  • When asked why they choose the RACMA Fellowship Training Program candidates ‘ main reasons were their desire to pursue a career in medical administration (46%), slightly less than previous year (60%), or having been appointed to a managerial position and feeling they needed the FRACMA qualification (33%) against (24%) last year. Other reasons were: diversify career options, wanting a higher income that comes with a having a recognised speciality; validate their experience and improve knowledge and skills.

  • The great majority of the candidates were referred to the College’s training program by their peers (58%) and only (28 %) through RACMA’s website. The website referral increase from the (11%) in 2010 is positive; nevertheless the candidates remain unfamiliar with any promotional leaflets/brochures or other materials with none of the candidates from 2004 to 2011 even mentioning the website as a source of information.
  • 25 Candidates are members of another specialty College. This year RACGP has taken the lead being the college with most fellows enrolled (32%). RACP, last year’s co-leader has fallen into the 4th position, RACS has ascended to the second position and ACEM has fallen to third.
  • Similar to last year the vast majority (82%) commenced their training in Australia. Most respondents came from QLD; (15%) commenced in NZ. The large majority (93%) remained in the same jurisdiction throughout their training.

The Application Process

  • Most candidates rated the College’s application process as good or acceptable, however some identified timeliness of response and clarity of information requirements amongst others as areas in need of improvement. This is in line with last year’s response.


  1. The Accelerated Pathway Candidates respondents are not included in the next analysis (page 8 to 16) as they complete a modified training program.
  2. The response rate on the next pages varies with some questions reflecting a) that most respondents (new candidates) are Accelerated Pathways and hence do not need to answer those questions; or that they are still to reach some stages in the candidacy and therefore are not able to answer all the questions.

Standard Pathway& Advanced Standing Candidates

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  • 1) Masters

  • 84% were required to complete a full Masters Degree program with most choosing a Master of Health Management (MHM) or a Master of Business Administration (MBA). The University of New South Wales (UNSW) and Monash were the most sought after institutions from a wide range of universities on offer.
  • Only a few sought the College Secretariat advice (23%) or fellow’s advice (6%) to choose their Master. Others used the internet or were already undertaking it prior to seeking candidacy. The factors which most influenced their course choice were course content (59%) and the availability of a distance learning option (53%). Overall most rate their Master’s program as good or very good. One of the respondents mentioned the need of clear and consistent advice from the College regarding Master’s core units and a few recommended that the College accredits specific Master programs.

  • 2) Workplace Training

  • 48% hold a substantive position in Health Service Management or have a Registrar Training Position (43%). The majority is training full time (84%), in a Metropolitan Hospital (48%) or a Government Department (24%) with only (8%) placed at Rural Hospital, an even lower percentage than last year. Most have their line manager as their supervisor (75%).

  • 3) Supervisor

  • This year has seen an improvement with almost all candidates appointed a supervisor; only one reported lacking a supervisor, whereas last year 10% of respondents reported they did not have one.
  • 70% of Supervisors are RACMA Fellows and were chosen by the candidate (60%) against (10%) appointed by the College, in line with last year results. The majority only rated their supervisor’s performance as satisfactory and considered poor their ability to set learning objectives and liaising with the preceptors. One candidate commented that his supervisor was overworked and did not have time to allocate training or provide mentorship.

  • As in 2010, 60% of the candidates still had more than one supervisor during their workplace training and half continued setting their own work experiences. The majority spends less than 25% on training with the remainder being service provision due to time constrains. Most would like to spend more time training.
  • The majority rates their workplace training experience as acceptable and consider they received a satisfactory or good level of support and feedback from supervisors and preceptors. Some are dissatisfied with the time and guidance provided for training.

  • 4) Assessment

  • Most candidates have completed at least one of the MPF tasks but find most of them just satisfactory or neutral. 75% submitted their tasks using the online submission tool and the ones who did so are divided with some considering it easy and others not so. One candidate was unable to submit and other criticized the lack of option to submit more than one attachment for the main MPF task (the Letter to the Editor of the Quarterly) and also being unable to access it to see its current stage as frustrating.
  • When asked what made the MPF tasks complicated for them, the candidates deemed the ambiguity of work requirements and time constrains as a major obstacle. Some of the most common suggestions to improve MPF tasks were: tasks should be more clearly outlined and detailed; candidates should be able to submit relevant workplace activities instead of having to create new tasks; college should identify 3 most important tasks and use them to form the MPF; there should be a provision of joint submission by more than one candidate; need for timely and better feedback after tasks have been submitted and assessed. These comments are similar to last year’s.

  • 5) Reflective Case Study

  • Only 7 out of 16 candidates have completed their reflective study case and presented it. These candidates described the overall experience as good or very good but consider there are factors that could be improved such as: the level of college and supervisor support and the ambiguity of work requirements. One stated that most candidates were unaware that they might 'fail' the case study presentation and not be able to give the Final Exam. None had to resubmit their case study.

  • 6) Examination Preparation

  • 80% intend to take their exams in 2011 or 2012 and considered the preceptor/coach, National Trial Exam and the Jurisdictional Trial Exams the most helpful with assisting with exam preparation whilst the Jurisdictional Committee is considered the least valuable in the process. None of the respondents are preparing to re-sit the oral exam and the 6 candidates who attended a trial examination acknowledged it as very beneficial.

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  • 7) Preceptors

  • All the standard pathway candidate’s respondents (17) have a preceptor, an improvement from 2010 when 16% did not have any training support.
  • 65% selected their own preceptor and 23% were selected by the College, whilst in 2010 the majority was selected by the College (55%).
  • Similarly to last year most candidates had their preceptors appointed in the space of a month (59%), but (41%) reported 3 to 6 months wait.
  • 82% have had the same preceptor for the duration of their training and said they meet them regularly, and others when there was a need namely around exams. A few noted a difficulty in contacting preceptors. Overall most rated their preceptor’s performance as good or above especially regarding case study preparation, general support, feedback and general understanding of the candidate’s needs.

  • All the standard pathway candidate’s respondents (14) had at least 1 In-Training Assessment Report and (36%) had 3 reports. Most considered feedback satisfactory or good and only a few exceeding. When asked how they felt about if the In-Training Assessment Report becoming a six monthly activity, responses varied, but most candidates rated the proposal satisfactory or excellent.

  • 8) Workshops

  • All the 16 respondents have attended the Induction Workshop for New Candidates and (56%) the Reflective Writing Workshop. Other well rated workshops were the Pre-Fellowship Workshop (44%) and the National Trial Examinations (37%), whilst the Media Workshop was placed last with (12%). Most candidates rated the workshops as good on the range of attributes. One candidate suggested having more workshops.

  • Accelerated Pathway Candidates


  • Accelerated Pathway candidates rated their coach performance from satisfactory to excellent. Responsiveness, assistance with case study preparation and general guidance were some of the factors they measured as excellent. One candidate indicated that he does not have a coach and others commented having trouble contacting the coach, especially when the coach resides in another state.

  • All Candidates

    College support throughout the candidacy

  • 32% of the respondents stated they received some support and (26%) good support from the RACMA Secretariat throughout the candidacy, an increase from last years’ figure of 19%.

  • Similarly to last year, most respondents found other Candidates and Fellows the most helpful throughout the candidacy. Some candidates commented they had little contact at all with College representatives, especially with Censors.

  • 50% rated the College Faculty and the RACMA national webinar series (53%) as very helpful. However 32% identified general feedback on candidacy and (17%) identified the annual transcript of results/progress as in need of improvement and recommended the College improve timely feedback and organization.

  • When asked what further information they would like to see on the RACMA website candidates made several suggestions: opportunities for acting DMS roles, international Employment opportunities, more information regarding status of MPF tasks and updated and accurate information about each pathway. Have direct access to subject-catalogued 'Quarterly', more advertising/sponsorship and that candidate’s blog/list would be helpful.

  • Overall

  • 35% rate their experience as a RACMA candidate satisfactory but one indicated that there should be more Fellows involved in the process. To improve their experience some recommended: more supervision, mentoring and feedback; improving organisation and content of the leadership workshop; future candidates should have a wider variety of rotations and more positions of Deputy DMS, Deputy CMO should be created with autonomy for the candidate to enable the transition from a Registrar to a Fellow; and more opportunities for standard and accelerated pathway candidates to network.

  • Commenting on RACMA training processes, one candidate said these are improving and that the curriculum changes were positive, another said he was looking forward to a lifetime of learning in leadership and administration, whilst another said he was relishing it but found difficult to balance study with other demands and commitments.

  • Candidates’ suggestions for improvement included: lowering training fees; giving candidates immediate access to the training manual; providing specific learning modules for commonly identified gaps; earlier notification of dates for reflective writing and trial exams. One mentioned he felt a disconnection between the operational realities of the roles and the curriculum; another stated that the emphasis on reflective writing in the case study was a mistake. Most of these comments are in line with the previous year.

  • Future Engagement

  • 96% are interested to participate in future College activities, an increase from last year (72%) and would be most interested in Future Coach (64%) and Future Preceptor (58%).

  • Career goals are diverse amongst candidates some were satisfied in their current role whilst others want to attain a senior position such as DMS, CEO or senior leadership in Governmental Departments; other aspirations included the desire to contribute to the Australian healthcare system and participate in international health leadership and management activities; teach leadership, management and admin to clinicians and non-clinicians, whilst one stated he was planning to retire.

RACMA Secretariat

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