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Doctor in Training Medical Adviser: entering the medico-legal world

Dr Benjamin Vialle, BA(Hons), GradDipEd, BTh, MBBS, GradCertClinEd, Avant Doctor in Training Medical Adviser and psychiatry registrar

Sunday, 25 July 2021

Dr Benjamin Vialle

Being a doctor in training (DiT) can sometimes feel like you just need to ‘get through’ this career stage and reach the end goal of fellowship. Early in my career as a DiT, I knew I had to find ways to explore my non-clinical interests if I was to be true to myself and build the career that was right for me. I needed to work with patients, but also pursue education, research and medico-legal issues.

When I saw the chance to work for Avant as a Doctor in Training Medical Adviser, it was just the opportunity I was looking for. The role is part-time, so I’ve been able to continue with my clinical training as a psychiatry registrar. There is also the possibility of the role counting towards a training program and we have connected with the Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators to gain accreditation for the role. Recent DiT Medical Advisers have been able to accredit the role towards GP or Emergency Medicine training.

Medico-legal claims

I’ve worked closely with the claims and legal teams to learn how Avant manages medico-legal matters. I’ve enjoyed the chance to work with members about compensation claims and complaints they are facing, adverse outcomes they’ve experienced, or medico-legal questions they are grappling with. Members – particularly DiTs – often find great support in speaking with a peer who understands their perspective.

A medical adviser is an important bridge between the member and the claims manager and solicitor, who may not have the medical knowledge of a clinical situation. I’ve particularly valued the opportunities to review matters involving psychiatry.

Advocacy, education and research

Another aspect of the role is working with Avant’s Advocacy, Education and Research team. I’ve joined in national advocacy committee meetings with college leaders and participated in Avant’s ongoing support of members through the whole range of medico-legal issues raised by the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve also enjoyed representing Avant in educational webinars for our student and DiT members.

There are unique research opportunities in the AER team, with a wealth of medico-legal data in Avant’s files. It’s been fascinating to examine the data to look for trends and insights according to claim type or specialty.

Early Career Doctor Advisory Council (ECDAC).

The DiT Medical Adviser also chairs the ECDAC, a group of DiT members who help Avant understand the challenges facing trainees and how best to support these members. Being part of this advisory council has allowed me to collaborate with my peers from a variety of specialities around the country.

A unique opportunity

This role has been a great adventure into the medico-legal world and provided me with a wide range of non-clinical experiences. Avant has valued my skills as a trainee and in their own unique way, contributed to my training journey.

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