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Scholar Pope kickstarts medical imaging reform in PNG

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

Advocacy by Papua New Guinean (PNG) Women Leading and Influencing (WLI) alumna Scholar Pope has kickstarted a reform of medical imaging practice in PNG and will ensure better service delivery and health outcomes for patients.

Presenting to the Radiology Society of PNG, Scholar proposed the establishment of standardised review processes, practice guidelines, and a clear career development pathway – which do not currently exist – for Medical Imaging Technologists (MITs) practicing in the country.

Her advocacy would lead to the Radiology Society of PNG taking steps towards developing a standardised code of practice and professional development pathway for MITs in the region.

scholar pope WLI alumna

[Pictured: WLI alumna Scholar Pope at the 2022 PNG Annual Medical Symposium]

Scholar conducts sector research and analyses knowledge gaps

Before taking up her Australia Award and earning a Master of Magnetic Resonance Technology (University of Queensland), Scholar was a Senior Radiographer at PNG’s Kavieng General Hospital where she experienced first-hand the limitations for MITs operating in the hospital environment.

After completing her studies and participating in WLI's Women’s Developmental Leadership Program, Scholar returned to Kavieng with the goal of reforming her profession “to address service gaps in the provincial hospital setting, where most medical imaging technologists lack support and training".

Over two months, Scholar created and conducted an online survey as a means to gather MITs' opinions and general knowledge of practice and operating guidelines.

Based on her own experiences and these findings, she believes that while medical imaging curriculum has evolved over the years in PNG universities, the field’s standard of practice has not been reviewed or updated in decades. The profession also lacks a code of ethics and standardised measures of competency.

“We still lack a skilled workforce because we graduate a pool of generic MITs without subspecialty skills,” Scholar explains, “And we seem to adopt an ‘American Society of Radiology’ code of practice, but it’s not standardised or recognised once in practice in the hospitals.”

This is leading to many MITs “not being supported well in training and up-skilling to provide optimal imaging results for better diagnoses” that ultimately influence patients’ management outcomes.

WLI alumna Scholar Pope

[Pictured: WLI alumna Scholar Pope (left) with senior radiologist Dr. Pius Umo (right)]

Advocating for reform at the Annual Medical Symposium

Through the Women’s Developmental Leadership Program, Scholar was supported to attend the 2022 PNG Annual Medical Symposium and present her survey findings to advocate for medical imaging practice reform.

Hosted by the Medical Society of PNG, Scholar explains that the Annual Medical Symposium brings PNG medical professionals together for a week-long conference of medical research and case study exploration, specialist meetings and presentations, and guest speaker insights into practice and professional developments in national and global health. 

Scholar presented her findings to the PNG Radiology Society in the hopes that it would “consider and provide an avenue or resolution to improve the career pathway” and standardise upskilling for MITs in PNG.

PNG Radiology Society commits to establishing a reform committee

Ultimately, Scholar’s presentation would lead to PNG’s Radiology Society resolving to establish an official committee to address the limitations faced by MITs.

 “The resolution to form a committee was a direct result of my presentation and I am happy to bring out something that was important to a professional body during the Annual General Meeting for the Radiology Society of PNG,” says Scholar.

Scholar believes this will not only lead to stronger career pathways for MITs and standardised measures of practice that can be “recognised throughout Australasia and the Pacific”, but also encourage MITs and radiographers to stay up to date with innovations in medical imaging.

She also acknowledges the assistance and guidance of her Asia Foundation mentor and reform advocate, Jo-Anna Diosana, through the organisation’s Coalitions of Change program.

“Systems and governance are only improved through leadership, advocacy and reform,” Scholar adds.

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Women’s Developmental Leadership Program (formerly the WLI Leadership & Mentoring program) participants like Scholar can access professional development opportunities within Australian or Pacific organisations through the WLI.

Through tailored internships, training and development, participants build leadership and professional skills and forge lasting partnerships and networks to support them into the future.

Find out more about WLI workplace internships.

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