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Overseas Medical Specialists: A Step-by-Step Guide to Specialist Assessment in Australia


Are you an overseas trained physician or paediatrician (OTP) looking to register and practice as a specialist in Australia? This blog will guide you through the specialist assessment process conducted by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) and the Medical Board of Australia (MBA). The assessment will determine if your qualifications and experience are comparable to those of Australian trained specialists. Let's get started!


Specialities RACP can assess

Addiction Medicine

Cardiology

Clinical Genetics

Clinical Haematology

Clinical Immunology and Allergy

Clinical Pharmacology

Community Child Health

Endocrinology

Gastroenterology

General and Acute Care Medicine General Paediatrics

Geriatric Medicine

Infectious Diseases Medical Oncology

Neonatal and Perinatal Medicine

Nephrology Neurology Nuclear Medicine Occupational and Environmental Medicine Paediatric Emergency Medicine Palliative Medicine Public Health Medicine Rehabilitation Medicine Respiratory Medicine Rheumatology Sleep Medicine Sexual Health Medicine


If you’re qualified in multiple specialties, you can apply for assessment in 2 of them. To add subspecialties after your first application has progressed to interim assessment, you must submit a new application with the relevant fees.


Step 1: Interim Assessment Stage The first step is the interim assessment stage, where we evaluate your training, experience, recent practice, continuing professional development (CPD), technical clinical skills, and non-technical professional attributes.


The application

RACP specialist assessment is an extensive document that requires you to provide your complete professional qualifications and training and log book + CPD activities in detail


The interview

You'll also be interviewed by qualified Fellows of the RACP to assess your readiness for practice in Australia. Interviews typically last about 1 hour and are mainly conducted through video conference.

To prepare for your interview, research the Australian healthcare system and familiarize yourself with the Professional Practice Framework, Advanced Training Programs, and relevant curricula. Interviewers may inquire about your training, specialist practice, CPD, higher qualifications, contributions to the medical field, cultural competence, and readiness for practice in Australia.

After your interview, you'll receive a copy of your interview report and redacted referee reports within 21 working days. You'll have 21 days to provide additional documentation to support your application.

Comparability Definitions: During the interim assessment, you'll be classified into one of the following categories based on your comparability to an Australian trained specialist:

  1. Substantially Comparable: You'll be considered suitable for the full or limited scope of practice and may need up to 12 months of supervised practice to be eligible for specialist registration and Fellowship.

  2. Partially Comparable: You'll be suitable for a supervised defined scope of practice and may need up to 24 months of supervised practice to be eligible for specialist registration and Fellowship.

  3. Not Comparable: If you don't meet the requirements, you may still be eligible to practice in Australia, but specialist registration won't be granted.




Step 2: Ongoing Assessment Stage In the ongoing assessment stage, we'll monitor your training, assessments, and peer review (supervised practice) requirements and associated timeframes. Additional assessments may be required, depending on your progress. We'll inform the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) of your eligibility for registration if necessary.

Step 3: Final Assessment Stage The final assessment stage determines whether you have satisfactorily completed your specialist assessment requirements and are comparable to an Australian trained specialist in your subspecialty. If found comparable, you'll receive a report confirming your completion of requirements, and we'll notify AHPRA about your eligibility for specialist registration. Additionally, you may be eligible for Fellowship of the RACP, and we'll provide you with admission forms.

Your Responsibilities: Throughout the application and assessment process, it is essential to familiarize yourself with all aspects of assessment, registration, and employment regulations in Australia. You must also disclose all relevant information and advise any changes that impact your application or assessment decision. Not adhering to responsibilities may result in the rejection of your application.

Fees: Please note that there are fees at each stage of the specialist assessment process, and your assessment will not progress until you pay the required fee for each stage. Fees are non-refundable.




Before Applying: Before applying for specialist assessment, ensure you have completed primary source verification (PSV) of your qualifications from the Australian Medical Council (AMC) to confirm the authenticity of your qualification documents. Collect all supporting documents, such as specialist registration certificates, EPIC identification form with a certified copy of your passport, evidence of Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and logbook of relevant procedures.

After Applying: Upon application submission, pay the OTP application submission fee. Your Case Officer will advise on the application progress and any missing documents. Once you receive your interim decision, you can register with AHPRA to complete your requirements and find your registration pathway.

Withdrawal and Re-assessment: You have the option to withdraw your application at any stage if you choose not to proceed with the assessments. Re-assessment is possible if your training and experience have significantly changed, and it has been at least 2 years since your interim assessment decision.

Timeframes and Extensions: You'll be given clear timeframes for commencing and completing requirements based on your comparability classification. Failure to complete requirements within the specified timeframes may result in the expiration of your assessment.

Examinations and Practice Visits: Depending on your comparability classification, you may need to take Faculty or Chapter Fellowship examinations. Practice visits may be required for some applicants during peer review (supervised practice) and involve 1-day site visits by assessors to review records, observe procedures, interactions with patients, and discuss progress with you and your peer reviewers.

Multisource Feedback: Multisource feedback (MSF) may be required to provide specific and actionable feedback to identify strengths and areas for practice improvement. MSF may be necessary if issues related to communication, personal skills, and patient interaction are highlighted or when onsite support or remote supervision is limited.

OTP Orientation Program: You must complete the online OTP orientation program within 3 months of starting your requirements. The program covers various topics related to the Australian healthcare system, cultural competency, ethics, quality, and safety, among others.


Continuing Professional Development: During clinical practice with peer review, you must participate in MyCPD, the RACP's continuing professional development program. This program is essential for monitoring your progress and forms part of your peer review assessment.

Additional Requirements and Unsatisfactory Progress: Depending on your specialty, there may be additional requirements such as long or short courses, assessments, research projects, and logbooks. If your progress is unsatisfactory or you fail an assessment, you may need to complete further assessments or address the identified issues. We hope this blog has provided you with a comprehensive overview of the specialist assessment process for overseas medical specialists in Australia. If you have any questions or need further guidance, don't hesitate to contact us. Good luck with your assessment journey!

Applying for jobs in Australia for assessment purposes

Position criteria

The following requirements generally apply:

  • You must secure your own position.

  • Your position must be approved before you begin.

  • Positions must be in an RACP Advanced Training accredited site for the specialty, unless otherwise specified.

  • You need at least 2 onsite supervisors who are Fellows of the RACP and registered consultants in the same subspecialty, unless otherwise specified.

Positions are competitive so it may take some time to find an appropriate one. We cannot assist you in securing a position.


Choose your supervisors

You need at least 2 on-site top-up training supervisors who are registered consultants in the same subspecialty. Where only 1 on-site supervisor is in your subspecialty, you must have a second on-site supervisor in a different subspecialty and a third external supervisor in the relevant subspecialty.

At least 1 supervisor must have held Fellowship of the relevant RACP Division, Faculty or Chapter for a minimum of 3 years. All other supervisors must have held Fellowship of the relevant RACP Division, Faculty or Chapter for at least 12 months.


Apply for top-up training (supervised practice)

After you’ve secured a position, you need to:

  1. Submit a top-up training (supervised practice) application form.

  2. Pay the workplace-based assessment annual fee.

Your Case Officer will provide you with these documents when you need them.

We assess the roles and responsibilities of the position and suitability of the supervisors to ensure your requirements will be met.


Top-up training (supervised practice) process

During top-up training (supervised practice), supervisors will:

  • directly supervise your clinical practice

  • meet with you regularly

  • guide and facilitate your development of knowledge and skills as outlined in the Advanced Training Curricula*

  • assess if you’re operating at the level of a final year Advanced Trainee

* Both technical clinical skills and non-technical professional attributes described in the Professional Qualities Curriculum (PDF) are important.


Problems during top-up training (supervised practice)

Most top-up training (supervised practice) relationships are effective and supportive. Occasionally, there can be disagreement between an OTP and supervisors.

You and your supervisors should make every effort to work together professionally to resolve issues, communication problems or disagreements in your regular meetings. Serious issues can be mediated through human resources at your hospital.

Email your Case Officer at OTP@racp.edu.au if there are issues and we’ll review arrangements and make changes if necessary. For example, inform us if:

  • you’re not having regular meetings

  • a supervisor is not giving you feedback

  • you can't reach agreement with a supervisor about your performance

  • the relationship is not effective

  • your supervisors are not meeting their responsibilities

It’s more effective to raise these issues early than to make a complaint after your top-up training (supervised practice) reports are missing or unsatisfactory.

Through our RACP Support Program, Converge International provide a free, confidential and independent help line, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Make an appointment or speak with a consultant by calling 1300 687 327 (Australia) or 0800 666 367 (Aotearoa New Zealand).


Peer review (supervised practice)

You’re required to undertake peer review (supervised practice). It's a supportive process that:

  • ensures your performance is comparable to Australian trained specialists

  • helps you become familiar with the health system

  • enables you to access CPD

  • connects you with experienced physicians and possible mentors

We determine the nature of assessment and length of peer review (supervised practice), between 6 and 12 months, on a case-by-case basis.

In exceptional circumstances, a reduction may be considered after you’ve practised in Australia in an appropriately supervised environment for more than 6 months and satisfactory reports have been provided by each supervisor.


Position criteria

You’re responsible for securing a suitable peer review (supervised practice) position. The position should:

  • be at consultant physician level but at least at senior registrar level

  • allow you to practise independently with a supervisor providing oversight and constructive feedback

  • expose you to a full range of clinical activities required in your specialty so we can assess your safety and competence

  • allow your supervisors to observe and assess your technical clinical skills and professional attributes described in the Professional Qualities Curriculum

  • not be more than half-time in private practice

Positions are competitive so it may take some time to find an appropriate one. We cannot assist you in securing a position.


Choose your peer reviewers

You need at least 2 on-site supervisors who are registered consultants in the same subspecialty. Where only 1 on-site supervisor is in your subspecialty, you must have a second on-site supervisor in a different subspecialty and a third external supervisor in the relevant subspecialty.

At least 1 supervisor must have held Fellowship of the relevant RACP Division, Faculty or Chapter for a minimum of 3 years. All other supervisors must have held Fellowship of the relevant RACP Division, Faculty or Chapter for at least 12 months.


Apply for peer review (supervised practice)

After you’ve secured a position, you need to:

  1. Submit a peer review application.

  2. Pay the workplace-based assessment annual fee.

Your Case Officer will provide you with these documents when you need them.

We assess the role and responsibilities of the position and suitability of the supervisors before you begin.

Peer review (supervised practice) process

During peer review (supervised practice), your supervisors will:

  • meet with you regularly

  • support you

  • orient you to specialist practice in Australia

  • assess if you're operating at the level of an Australian trained specialist

They’ll provide us with regular reports on your progress. These reports will be shared with you. You must meet the responsibilities for peer review (supervised practice).


Problems during peer review (supervised practice)

Most peer review relationships are effective and supportive. Occasionally, there can be disagreement between an OTP and supervisors.

You and your supervisors should make every effort to work together professionally to resolve issues, communication problems or disagreements in your regular meetings. Serious issues can be mediated through human resources at your hospital.

Email your Case Officer at OTP@racp.edu.au if there are issues and we’ll review arrangements and make changes if necessary. For example, inform us if:

  • you’re not having regular meetings

  • a supervisor is not giving you feedback

  • you can't reach agreement with a supervisor about your performance

  • the relationship is not effective

  • your supervisors are not meeting their responsibilities

It’s more effective to raise these issues early than to make a complaint after your peer review (supervised practice) reports are missing or unsatisfactory.

Through our RACP Support Program, Converge International provide a free, confidential and independent help line, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Make an appointment or speak with a consultant by calling 1300 687 327 (Australia) or 0800 666 367 (Aotearoa New Zealand).


OTP orientation program

The OTP orientation program is a learning tool to prepare you for practice in Australia.

You must complete the online OTP orientation program within 3 months of starting your requirements.

Start the OTP orientation program

Enter your RACP Login ID and password to access the program.

Topics covered:

  • Australian healthcare setting (4 hours)

  • cultural competency (4 hours)

  • broader context of health (2.5 hours)

  • communication (5 hours)

  • quality and safety (4.5 hours)

  • ethics (4.5 hours)

  • teaching and learning (3 hours)

IMGs, trainees and Fellows interested in learning more about the Australian healthcare system can also use the program.

Contact us with questions.


Continuing professional development

When you’re undertaking clinical practice with peer review, you must participate in MyCPD, our continuing professional development program. There’s no additional cost. You’ll record learning in MyCPD at regular intervals. Your participation will be monitored and form part of your peer review assessment.

Many activities undertaken during peer review can be claimed as CPD:

  • OTP orientation program

  • peer review meetings

  • teaching

  • research

  • self-assessment activities

See the Interactive Handbook for more on the CPD Framework and program.

You can also access MyCPD during top-up training although it's not a mandatory requirement at that time.

Additional requirements

There will be additional requirements, depending on your specialty, such as long or short courses, assessments, research project and logbooks.



Recommendations


  1. My first recommendation would be to do a thorough research in the Australian job market for your speciality. Look for jobs on SEEK.com.au or state medical recruitment websites If you can find a job send them an email to express interest to come as a specialist for further training and see what they say

  2. The process is actually quite straight forward but requires a lot of planning and detail during application preparation and interview so be ready to set 2-3months for document collection and filling each and every section of application form and also practicing for an interview

  3. The actual part of finding a job at a senior registrar or junior consultant can be hard, I have been contacted by cardiologists from India who were found to be partially comparable but could not find a job with supervisors for peers review assessment part of the training

  4. The initial cost is about A$6000 to which will lead to a decision of your comparability. The cost of in training assessment of 4188 per annum is not an issue as you will be working in Australia

  5. You must be ready to sit and pass FRACP exam within the specified time frame

  6. Specialities in demand are Geriatrics, General or Acute care medicine, Occupational health, Public health medicine, immunology and allergy. There might be better opportunities to find work in specialties like cardiology, gastroenterology, oncology and others in Area of need in rural or remote location but finding a supervisor can be an issue so plan well a head.

  7. Do consider short term training pathway and AMC1 atleast as this will open up options of finding more junior positions but you can get into the system and later apply for specialist assessment in a good hospital because of your junior work



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