A COUPLE of months ago I was pleased to receive a reminder from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency that my registration was due in September.
Despite a lot of uncertainty among the medical fraternity I was ready to embrace AHPRA’s promise of efficiency, consistency and transparency, as well as some decent stationery and a killer logo.
Included with the letter were a set of registration papers, a workforce survey and a request that I consider registering electronically.
After a few weeks of procrastination, I entered the username and password provided, along with my date of birth, into the practitioners’ section of the website.
My login was unsuccessful and, after a few more goes holding my mouth in the right position, I gave up, filled in the paper forms and popped them in the letterbox with 7 days to spare.
I waited for the postman. When the 30th came and went I checked my status on the public register.
I waited optimistically, remembering the 1-day turnaround time of my old paper-based medical board, occasionally peering at the recently expired registration slip nuzzled discreetly behind the Spotlight VIP card in my wallet.
My optimism was somewhat dented when a letter did arrive advising me that I am at risk of losing my medical registration for good should I neglect to renew it by the end of October.
A delightful young Irishman answered the phone at AHPRA.
He was not concerned about the letter, which he said had been sent to most people with a September registration due date.
On checking my details, however, he discovered the source of the login problem.
My date of birth was wrong. Not just wrong, but in the words of the young Irishman, “shockingly wrong”!
According to the AHPRA database I am a New Year’s baby — New Year’s Day 1900 to be precise.
My suggestion of “default setting” was met with a thoughtful silence and, feeling every inch my purported age, I was transferred to another operator.
Her pragmatic solution was that, as there was no record of receipt of my paper-based registration renewal and loss of registration was imminent, I log in to the website using the fictitious date of birth and complete my registration that way.
I like online shopping, travel and news websites but the AHPRA website was particularly entertaining.
It appeared to be set to time out approximately every 5 minutes.
On the first attempt I got to the end of the fitness-to-practice questions, the next two times I managed the workforce survey as well but I needed to make it to the finish line.
By randomly clicking the boxes on the first page, skipping the workforce survey and memorising my credit card number I managed to complete payment within the timeframe.
It was worth the sprint to the registration line because, after a day or two of trepidation, the website indicates that I am registered.
Who knows, I may now be the only 110-year-old registered medical practitioner in Australia.
Dr Ruth Armstrong is a Deputy Editor with the MJA. She is also (officially) a registered medical practitioner.
Posted 18 October 2010