Dr Jillann Farmer FRACMA has been chosen to lead RACMA’s new Culture of Medicine Project, in which the Australian Commonwealth Department of Health has charged the College to find tangible solutions to cultivate a systematic and sustained behavioural change across the specialist medical sector.
The two-year project is funded through the Specialist Training Program (STP) which is a Commonwealth Government initiative. RACMA President Dr Helen Parsons CSC FRACMA said the project would involve RACMA engaging all specialist medical colleges and other influential stakeholders to collectively influence training reform and systemic change through leadership to government, employers and key partners.
“The ultimate goal being to make finite inroads to combat bullying, harassment, racism and poor workplace behaviour, which will improve patient safety, staff well-being and healthcare outcomes,” Dr Parsons said.
Dr Jillann Farmer comes to the project with a lifetime of experience across diverse medical working environments. She started her career as a Queensland Rural scholarship holder, and worked in settings ranging from tertiary hospitals to small single doctor towns. She was awarded Fellowship of the RACGP in 1997, and of RACMA in 2007.
Dr Farmer’s early career was marked by reform roles – she changed the way the Medical Board of Queensland dealt with practitioners affected by health problems, and then led a project to improve Medicare Australia’s management of practitioners under review for possible inappropriate practice. Each of these roles was marked by an unwavering commitment to fairness, equity and transparency.
She has been a Director of Medical Services at a mid-size acute Hospital, and a Senior Medical Officer Emergency Medicine. She went on to serve as the Medical Director of the Patient Safety Centre in Queensland Health, and was inaugural Director of the Clinician Performance Support Service, a service to assess and support remediation of senior medical staff where there were performance concerns.
Dr Farmer has been a leader at hospital, state, national and international levels, serving as Medical Director of the United Nations, based at the headquarters in New York for eight years. During her tenure at the UN, she was responsible for the health, safety and wellbeing of all UN personnel deployed throughout the world and was also responsible for the standards in some 200 healthcare facilities operating under the UN flag. Dr Farmer developed and launched the UN System Workplace Mental Health Strategy, developed the UN Safety and Quality Standards and implemented reforms of the UN Trauma care system.
In the three years since leaving the UN, Dr Farmer has worked as a Deputy Director General in the Department of Health in Queensland and then returned to front-line clinical work to support the pandemic response.
Dr Parsons said she was delighted to have Dr Farmer lead the project.
“I am very proud that RACMA is leading this whole of industry project to create real change for medicine for the future,” Dr Parsons said.
“As Medical Leaders and as a Specialist Medical College we do have a critical role and responsibility in raising professional standards and building a positive, respectful culture.”
The aim of this project is to design and develop a multi-faceted engagement strategy to address the long-standing issues in the culture of medicine in collaboration with key stakeholders including specialist medical colleges, the Australian Medical Council, the Medical Board of Australia, the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association and the Council of Presidents of Medical Colleges.