Since its establishment in 1920, the Victorian Medical Postgraduate Foundation (VMPF) has offered a richness of healthcare education programs. The organisation has adapted its vision and mission over nearly 100 years of operation to suit the needs of its members and stakeholders. Today, it enters a new era as Health Education Australia Limited (HEAL).
VMPF began as an organisation that provided postgraduate medical education at a time when the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) were the only two specialist colleges in operation. As other Colleges were formed, the appropriate educational activities were transferred.
In 1972, VMPF developed the first computer matches for junior medical staff which assigned medical graduates to hospital training posts. Other early VMPF projects include a Central Reference Bureau (references for junior medical staff hospital appointments) and early accreditation of hospital positions for junior medical staff.
The Country Education Program (CEP) commenced in 1997 to support rural medical practitioners’ ongoing professional development. This program continues today in 27 rural locations and has expanded to include nursing and allied health professionals. The CEP is accredited by the Australian College of Nursing (ACN), Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM).
VMPF was one of first organisations to become incorporated within Victoria with a Council consisting of medical practitioners representing Medical Colleges, Hospitals, and the Australian Medical Association (AMA).
In 1984, the Therapeutic Guidelines Sub-Committee was established as a subcommittee of VMPF. The 3rd edition of the Antibiotic Guidelines was the first activity managed by this subcommittee and included publications, marketing and distribution of the guideline.
From 1985 to 1999, VMPF provided the following services/developed the following projects:
- an antibiotic drug usage project to improve the use of antibiotics;
- a computer matching service for the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP);
- a major review of medical workforce and training needs for interns and vocational training in Australia (the Yeatman report);
- commenced customised tutorial programs for International Medical Graduates (IMGs) at Prince Henry’s Hospital, Melbourne;
- short-term training positions for IMGs under funding from the Federal Government (continued to 1994);
- a part-time Geriatric Diploma at Mount Royal Hospital, Parkville for general practitioners (continued to 1995);
- the Victorian Quality Assurance Network (QAN) funded by Department of Health, Victoria (DoH) to enable hospitals to use the Statutory Immunity Service (under Section 139 of the Health Services Act 1988) to discuss adverse events openly to improve procedures and protocols in hospitals (continued to 1997);
- an intensive Palliative Care Course for General Practitioners (with a development committee including representatives from the University of Melbourne, Monash University and pain management physicians);
- a closed referenced bureau for medical practitioners seeking employment or vocational training in the UK;
- programs for health professionals on drug and alcohol abuse and methadone prescribers (funded by DoH and continued to 1999);
- commenced a government-assisted (now FEE-HELP) course to Australian citizen IMGs (continues today);
- commenced the first Australian Medical Council (AMC) Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) exam bridging course for IMGs (continues today).
To assist the commencement of various specialist medical societies to establish themselves as specialist colleges, VMPF provided secretariats for the following organisations:
College of Dermatologists, Australia
Society for Immunology, Australia
Association of Gerontology, Australia and New Zealand
Association of Nuclear Medicine
Publications & Educational Packages
VMPF has produced many publications since its establishment. One of the annual publications (1986-1992) was the Medical Careers in Australia booklet that provided junior medical staff with information regarding vocational career pathways.
Other publications (to the present date) inlcude:
- Electroconvulsive Therapy: an Australasian Guide
- Anxiety Disorders: Current Controversies, Future Directions
- Physical and Mental Health: An Interface
- Borderline Personality Disorder: Towards Effective Treatment
- Imaging Guidelines 1st and 2nd Editions in conjunction with Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Radiologists
- Emergency Rapid Reference booklet
- Protocol for the Triage & Early Management of Burn Injury in conjunction with A&NZ Burns Assoc. (Victoria) and the Victorian State Committee of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
- Anxiety Disorders: Current Understanding, Novel Treatments
- Wise Choices: Acceptance and commitment therapy groups for people with borderline personality disorder
VMPF has also produced specialist educational packages for health professionals in collaboration with various organisations. Packages included educational content on:
- Child Sexual Abuse
- Blood and Its Products
- AIDS and the Medical Profession
Today, HEAL (formerly VMPF) combines its history and experience with a focus on multidisciplinary services to offer quality bridging courses for international graduates, country education for all health professionals, a simulated patients program and a range of custom-designed workshops developed through collaborations across disciplines and sectors.