New RACGP program to support non-vocationally registered doctors gain Fellowship

Doug Hendrie

21/05/2018 2:14:54 PM

More than 3000 non-vocationally registered GPs will be supported to attain Fellowship of the RACGP, following confirmation of funding in this year’s Federal Budget.

The RACGP’s Practice Experience Program is designed to support non-VR doctors who often prepare for Fellowship exams with minimal support, and often in isolated settings.
The RACGP’s Practice Experience Program is designed to support non-VR doctors who often prepare for Fellowship exams with minimal support, and often in isolated settings.

From 1 January next year, the RACGP will roll out its new Practice Experience Program (PEP) supporting non-vocationally registered (VR) doctors working in general practice with a purposeful education program in a bid to boost exam pass rates.
Many non-VR doctors are international medical graduates (IMGs) who are required to work for up to a decade in rural and remote areas around Australia, where there is a long-standing doctor shortage.
At present, many of these doctors are currently not eligible for the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program, and alternative support options are limited. As a result, many non-VR doctors prepare for Fellowship exams with minimal support, and often in isolated settings.
The PEP has been designed following the successful undertaking of a 2016 RACGP pilot program that showed increased support and education leads to a boost in exam results and increased levels of individual confidence among doctors.
In its recent Federal Budget announcement, the Government revealed it has agreed to fund the majority of the program, which will support more than 3000 non-VR GPs.
Dr Deepama Sumanasekera found the pilot program especially useful in helping her attain RACGP Fellowship. 
‘It was great to have structure and direction in studying for the Fellowship exams,’ she told newsGP.
‘The online webinars are very helpful, especially because most IMGs are in rural or remote areas. I was doing it in [Queensland town] Dalby, and I didn’t have anyone to study with. I didn’t know anyone else doing the exam.’  
Dr Carmen Abaffy also found the pilot program useful.
‘It was very helpful at the time – just being able to talk to someone,’ she told newsGP. ‘There are so many resources, but you can get lost in it unless you know where to go, unless you have a guide.’  
Both doctors welcomed the news that the PEP will be rolled out for all non-VR IMGs.

IMGs-Article-jpg.jpgDr Deepama Sumanasekera found the interaction provided by online webinars especially helpful when participating in the RACGP pilot program in the lead-up to Fellowship exams. 
RACGP General Manager of Education Services Dr Mark Rowe told newsGP the funding has been well received.  
‘We recognised that small interventions were not working,’ he said. ‘By partnering with regional training organisations [RTOs] and with Government backing, the PEP will add significantly to improving the skills of our general practice workforce.
‘It is extremely daunting for an international doctor to come to Australia, often in professionally isolating environments, and expect them to not only work and study independently to meet Fellowship standards but to do so in the absence of any supportive education structure.
‘You can’t just bring international doctors into Australia and say, “it’s up to you to get through the exams”.
‘This is an initiative by the college to challenge current thinking and support as many non-VR doctors as possible to attain RACGP Fellowship.
‘The process of development has been solid and while it is designed to fit within funding and logistic constraints, it represents a long overdue addition to current training and education offerings.’
Current non-VR doctors working in general practice will be able to access the PEP without going through a selection process when the program begins from 1 January next year. A selection process is expected to begin by 2020.
The initial PEP intake is expected to be around 400 non-VR doctors, with the numbers increasing each year as support structures grow and recruitment of more medical educators takes place.
PEP Candidates will spend between six and 30 months in the program, depending on assessment of candidate qualifications, recency of practice, experience and current competence. It is envisaged that candidates will spend on average 12–18 months in the program before attempting Fellowship of the RACGP (FRACGP) examinations.
PEP participants will have access to a range of online modules and materials, in-practice assessment activities and contact and support from medical educators and mentors.  The program is to be majority funded by the Federal Government, with a co-payment required from candidates. Final funding details are still pending.  
Existing RTOs will partner the RACGP in the new initiative and take responsibility for delivery of the new PEP program.
The news comes after the Federal Government announced in 2017 that it would hand over responsibility for the AGPT Program to the RACGP and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACCRM) by 2022.
The RACGP Council has determined that as from January 2022 candidates will not be able to access Fellowship exams without having completed an RACGP education or training program.
RACGP Fellowship Pathways Project Coordinator Amy Willows ran the 2016 pilot study, in which 34 IMGs trialled the new program.
‘What we wanted to do with the pilot was to increase education and pastoral support to give the candidates the best possible support to get through exams,’ she told newsGP. ‘The success of that pilot has led to this much broader initiative. 
‘It’s something that all of us who worked on the pilot are extremely pleased about.’
The RACGP is working towards one pathway to Fellowship under two programs – the Australian General Practice Training and the new PEP – with the eventual phasing out of the Specialist Pathway Program, General Practice Experience Pathway, and Practice Based Assessment Pathway.

More details, including applications for the program, will be available by 30 June. Email for further information.

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Gail Hedley   22/05/2018 6:29:13 AM

This is great news .
As I am on this pathway and it is extremely hard , studying with zero support . However to be honest and frank I can't believe that it was even thought that IMGs on this pathway could study without support , and guidance ,what narrow thinking and frustrating . This is long overdue but probably too little too late for some , who had already spent thousands to sit the exams and failed ???

Dr Anas Ghazal   22/05/2018 7:07:46 AM

In my case the changes will be disastrous, I was due to be eligible for the FRACGP exam on the 20/1/19. This changes will put me behind 12-18 months. RWAV is already threatening, they won’t extend my RLRP for more than 12 months and it will be a final extension. It means my RLRP would expire before I am eligible for the FRACGP exam. Is that fair ?!
I have already begged the RACGP twice to accept some of my extensive 4 years Australian hospitals experience. I was knocked back by a group of incompetent assessors!
I will be left in limbo, I see it coming.
I guess no one would care anyway. I guess there are couple of hundred of doctors in my boat. I guess a change of career then, will not a bad idea!

dr rashidul hassan   22/05/2018 8:03:11 AM

good news , how I can enrol
I have already pass AKT with my own effort
KFP need good help
I want to enrol ASAP please

Christine I'Anson   22/05/2018 8:47:02 AM

Dear team, this sounds great, however I am an Australian trained Doctor. I live in rural and remote greater far west region of NSW and unable to obtain a provider number in "my home town". Therefore I work out of area in less areas of needed than where I live. I wish I also had support to towards completing the GP training program in my home town of Broken Hill as an Australian graduate. I look forward to your reply Regards Christine

dheyaa jouda   22/05/2018 3:43:49 PM

i think it good news for us, at least we have some support , i have been struggling with fellowship exams for years, and now am on second extension of my RLRP. the question is why only overseas trained doctors have to serve in the country for 10 years, while Australians who are local graduates dont.? although both group have the same qualification, which is the Australian medical counsel certificate AMC. certificate. does that law discriminates between these tow groups of doctors?assuming the img doctor became a citizen.

Dr Waqas Khan   22/05/2018 7:28:45 PM

Kindly add me on The programme as soon as it’s up, I’ve started working in rural SA recently..

Ferdinandus Pranadi (564531)   22/05/2018 8:59:33 PM

I have been waiting for this program for a long time. I really would like to join that program.
What should I do?
Thanking you

Kazi Md Aminul Haque   22/05/2018 9:32:55 PM

Since my arrival in Australia I have been working as a GP in countryside-started in Swanhill,now working in Horsham .Now under stress about how can I get Fellowship.I love my profession,want to stay in my profession .PEP is a light of hope for many of us.How can I get access to PEP?
Thanks NewsGP1

Dr. Samira   22/05/2018 9:41:05 PM

I wander would it affect those IMG doctors who passed AKT by now or only those who did not yet was assessed to sit RACGP exams?

Dr Ioselani Pouesi   22/05/2018 11:01:02 PM

I am a NZ graduate from Otago University and NZ citizen.
Work Experience:
Worked in NZ Rural GP setting - Locums 1997-1999; Remote NZ 1999-2003; Rural NZ 2003-2007.
Worked in Rural and Remote Australia - Mount Isa 2007 - 2013, Mount Isa GP Practice co-owner and owner 2013 - Current.
Which pathway do I need to take to gain Fellowship? I'm clearly not a fan of cities and would prefer working rurally. I am creating interest in medicine locally and encouraging young school leavers (especially young Indigenous students) to consider rural medicine as a career option.
I look forward to your response.

S. Rajaratnam   23/05/2018 11:12:10 AM

Finished my Advanced Training Program in Malaysia and passed my AKT in February 2018 examinations. Failed KFP. In General Practice for last 30 years in Malaysia. Is there any pathway that fits overseas graduates.

S. Rajaratnam   23/05/2018 1:15:34 PM

Finished my Advanced Training Program in Malaysia and passed my AKT in February 2018 examinations. Failed KFP. In General Practice for last 30 years in Malaysia. Is there any pathway that fits overseas graduates.

Lalani Ranasinghe   27/05/2018 5:29:53 PM

I look forward to join the programm. I am working as GP in rural NSW for last 6 years .

Dr Natalia Peker   21/07/2018 12:54:27 PM

Thanks a lot for this program. I have been GP for almost 15 years in rural area. no matter how hard I prepared - thanks to GP Academy- the factor of stress is the main contributing factor. I would love to be lucky participant of this program, but I understood that there is as difficult to get in to this program as to pass RACGP exams. I passed AKT and now anxiously waiting for KFP exam results. If this time fail- I am not doctor anymore. Hard to comprehend , I think it will be grate help for others.

Dr Godwin Mbachilin   24/07/2018 12:56:21 AM

I have been waiting for this program for a long time. I really would like to join that program.
What should I do?
Thanking you

newsGP   24/07/2018 10:04:05 AM

Dear Dr Mbachilin, please email to register your interest.

Dr IMG   12/10/2018 10:53:50 AM

I hope that the RACGP can organize a meeting for all IMG Doctor who are non-VR GP in Australia Primary Health System to talk about how to achieve Fellowship of RACGP and option of pathway to achieve Fellowship of RACGP, particularly give advice to IMG and answer questions for IMG Doctors. Actually IMG Doctors are very disadvanges Doctors due to subject to 19aa, because these IMG Doctors are Australia citizen and P.R., and no Fellowship qualification, these Doctors need help and support, therefore the RACGP should organize a meeting to face to face to give some education about how to achieve Fellowship of RACGP, and How to access different training program, and How to access this New RACGP Program, and what about for non-VR GP work in the city.

Shaimaa Elgayar   29/10/2018 6:08:03 AM

Thats good to hear
Would you please explain what will be the selection criteria for program entery from 2020?

Han   10/01/2019 3:55:08 AM

A very good step to improve the professional standard of the non-VR GP, especially with the IMG Drs/GPs. However, this new proposed pathway will eventually eliminate few other options to gain fellowship! (As mention in above article) . Dont u think with less pathway option it wud gradually make the process to obtain fellowship becoming restricted and harder for some? Furthermore when the selection criteria comes into place, dont you think that it will exacerbate the condition ? I might be wrong. Cheers