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The Australasian College of Sport and Exercise Physicians (ACSEP) has its first female President in the specialist medical college’s 34-year history. Members of the College unanimously voted for Dr Louise Tulloh as the new President at the recent Annual General Meeting held in Queenstown New Zealand, as part of the Annual Scientific Conference.

Dr Tulloh says the appointment “signifies the importance of diversity and equality to our College and the people it serves and is a positive step forward for women in medical leadership.”

 

Based in New South Wales, Dr Tulloh has been practicing Sport and Exercise Medicine for over 20 years. Over the space of her career, she has worked with various teams covering numerous events, most notably the 2000 Sydney Olympic games. In her current clinical practice she consults to many patients with chronic and complex conditions, reflecting the evolution of Sport and Exercise Medicine beyond elite athletes to include the general public with musculoskeletal conditions and pain, whether they exercise or not.

The ACSEP is one of 15 specialist medical colleges, of which only two other presidents are female. With Dr Tulloh as President, ACSEP’s two most senior leadership positions are now held by women. CEO Kate Simkovic says this is a “milestone moment for the College, and for women working in medicine more broadly.” 

While participation rates for women in sport are on the rise and equity of remuneration and media exposure for women athletes is improving, ACSEP says this same trend is not correlating with applications to become specialist Sport and Exercise Physicians. “Only 13% of our applicants for 2019 placements were women. We need to understand why that is and what barriers are currently preventing women from considering a career in Sport and Exercise Medicine,” says Ms Simkovic.

Highlighting ACSEP’s commitment to gender equity, the College recently established a Women in Sport and Exercise Medicine Advisory Committee, of which Dr Tulloh and Ms Simkovic both participate in. The Committee advocates for all women who are considering Sport and Exercise Medicine as a career option; women progressing through the ACSEP training program and professionally within the field itself; and women who have retired from practice. 

“We must champion and support female Registrars and Fellows for nomination and promotion to positions of leadership within the College and be a force for change within the overall culture of both the College and the greater Sport and Exercise Medicine landscape for equity, diversity and empowered representation,” says Ms Simkovic.

In addition to the particular barriers for women and aligned with the College’s culture of inclusion, Dr Tulloh is also looking forward to working through challenges and solutions for issues faced by other groups of ACSEP Fellows and trainees, such as Indigenous doctors and doctors approaching retirement from practice.

In her first week in the role of President, Dr Tulloh was in Canberra to launch the Concussion in Sport Australia position statement and website (pictured below); an important collaboration between the Australian Institute of Sport, the Australian Medical Association and Sports Medicine Australia. 
“This resource provides a wealth of information for athletes, coaches, parents and medical practitioners across all levels of sport,” said Dr Tulloh.

“I look forward to what lies ahead for Sport and Exercise Medicine and its positive impact on the physical and mental health of our communities by keeping people active,” says Dr Tulloh.