For more than 60 years now, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has been at the forefront of setting standards for GP practice and education in Australia.
The RACGP continues to assist general practitioners – whether medical students, GPs in training or experienced GPs – in their profession, by developing resources and guidelines that enable them to provide top-notch healthcare to their patients and resolve particular problems that arise in their practices.
Case in point, from January 2019, the RACGP introduced the Practice Experience Program (PEP). This program is designed to assist non-vocationally registered (non-VR) practitioners on their road to RACGP Fellowship.
The RACGP PEP is one of the 3GA programs under Section 19AA of the Health Insurance Act. This law allows for international medical graduates (IMGs) to bill their patients under Medicare despite not having attained fellowship status yet with either the RACGP or the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM).
If you’re an IMG or non-VR GP, Alecto can assist you in several ways. We can help you navigate what could seem to be complicated processes, including:
- Commencing the registration process through the Australian Medical Council
- Finding an attractive GP Job in Australia.
- Attaining fellowship status with the RACGP or ACRRM.
What Is PEP?
As previously mentioned, the PEP by RACGP is a self-directed education program designed for non-VR doctors in their pursuit of an RACGP fellowship.
The PEP program of the RACGP is funded under the Non-Vocationally Registered Fellowship Support Program as part of the Australian Government Department of Health’s Stronger Rural Health Strategy. It is available across the country and delivered in collaboration with various training establishments.
The program lets participants concentrate on their unique learning requirements and the aspects of Australian general practice that are of the greatest relevance to them.
The program material consists of numerous online learning courses, many of which are practice-based, and several workplace-based assessments (WBA). Although the learning units are not compulsory, the WBA components are required.
Aside from equipping non-VR GPs with the tools and information they need to succeed in their fellowship goals and practice, participants benefit from the PEP in Australia in another way. Seasoned specialist GP medical educators in designated training organisations also provide participants support, direction, and educational advice.
The PEP pathway comprises two streams: the PEP Standard and PEP Specialist.
PEP Standard Stream
The RACGP PEP standard stream was introduced in January 2019. It was a pilot program meant to help non-VR doctors, providing them access to a self-directed, partially subsidised education program as part of their progression toward RACGP fellowship.
Doctors must complete the program in a minimum of two terms (12 months) and a maximum of five terms, depending on their particular learning needs.
However, due to recent changes, government funding for the PEP standard stream is set to end after 30 June 2023. In view of this, the RACGP introduced the Fellowship Support Program (FSP).
PEP Specialist Stream
The RACGP PEP specialist stream is a 3GA program supported by the Australian Medical Council (AMC). It offers international medical graduates with overseas specialist qualifications, structured education and peer assistance.
For specialist international medical graduates (SIMGs), the RACGP PEP specialist pathway is the route to them becoming a fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.
At the end of 2019, the PEP specialist stream replaced the Specialist Recognition Program (SRP).
Each specialist international medical graduate is issued a unique PEP 3GA provider number under the PEP specialist stream in order to bill Medicare at the full item rates.
In this blog post, our main focus would be the PEP specialist stream, and the entire discussion below will be centred on it exclusively.
Who Is Eligible to Apply for the PEP Specialist Stream?
To meet RACGP PEP eligibility requirements, the applicant must submit a PEP specialist stream application as well as fulfil the following:
- Finish a comparability assessment
- Possess a recognised general practice specialty qualification
- A qualification classified as Substantially or partially comparable
|Substantially Comparable Qualifications|
|United Kingdom – Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners (MRCGP)
New Zealand – Fellowship of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (FRNZCGP)
Ireland – Membership of the Irish College of General Practitioners (MICGP)
Belgium – Master of Specialisation in General Medicine, University of Liège
Canada – Certification in the College of Family Physicians
Hong Kong – Fellow of Hong Kong College of Family Physicians
Malaysia – Membership of the Academy of Family Physicians of Malaysia
Malta – Specialist in Family Medicine
Spain – Specialist in Family and Community Medicine
Sweden – Certificate of Specific Training for General Practice
|Partially Comparable Qualifications|
|Malaysia – Master in Family Medicine, National University of Malaysia
Netherlands – Certificate of Specific Training for General Practice
Philippines – Diplomate of Family and Community Medicine
Saudi Arabia – Saudi Board in Family Medicine
Singapore – Master of Medicine in Family Medicine
South Africa – Fellowship of the College of Family Physicians of South Africa – FCFP(SA)
Sri Lanka – MD Family Medicine (Family Medicine Specialist Board certification required)
United Kingdom – Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners International -South Asia (MRCGP Int – South Asia)
USA – Certification of the American Board of Family Medicine
How to Apply for PEP
The PEP application process is relatively simple and straightforward. But first, you need to have your RACGP ID ready. If you don’t have an RACGP account yet, you’ll need to register to get a special user ID.Beginning the process to become a bona fide fellow through RACGP PEP application comprises the following basic steps:
- Application for Comparability Assessment: A comparability outcome is assessed and classified as substantially, partially, or not comparable.
- Application for the Approval of Job Offer: The RACGP reviews information regarding the applicant’s job offer(s) in Australia (location and field of practice). Candidates can submit an AHPRA medical registration application after the approval of a job offer.
- Application for the Right to Work: Visa information is entered, along with a form to request an RACGP provider number.
For the uninitiated, the PEP specialist application process can feel overwhelming.Candidates with Alecto can expect to get guidance and support throughout their application to the PEP specialist stream.
PEP Program Fees and CostsThe PEP specialist stream was co-funded by the Commonwealth Government under the Australian Government’s Stronger Rural Health Strategy for Doctors based in Modified Monash Model (MMM) areas 2 to 7 until 30 June 2023.The following self-funded PEP specialist program fees took effect starting 1 July 2022.*Fees are subject to change without notice. Individual circumstances may affect applicable membership fees.Aside from the aforementioned PEP specialist stream fees, applicants should also be prepared for other expenses. These include expenses involving applications support assistance, documentation, visa processing, migration agency or lawyer services, accommodation and relocation.
Comparability AssessmentThe comparability assessment is required of specialist international medical graduates who wish to qualify for the PEP specialist stream.Comparability refers to the extent by which an SIMG’s recent training, continuity of practice, ongoing professional development, assessment methods, credentials, and clinical experience are deemed to be comparable to those of an Australian-trained general practitioner at the stage of attaining fellowship.
- Recency and continuity of practice: For comparability, applicants must have completed at least four weeks of full-time equivalent (FTE) general practice during the previous 12 months (prior to applying for comparability), and at least 12 months of FTE general practice in the last 48 months. Any gaps or breaks in their clinical practice that’s longer than three months must be explained by applicants.
- Continuing professional development (CPD): Candidates must show proof that they have completed 10 case analyses using the RACGP template and 50 hours of CPD in the last 12 months.
- Assessment type: Applicants must have finished a summative assessment consisting of theoretical and practical aspects that are comparable to those used in RACGP examinations.
- Training route: Candidates must hold a qualification in specialist general practice and provide documentation of the training route they finished.
- Curriculum: Applicants must have finished their training in an establishment with a curriculum that has been determined to be comparable to the one being used at the RACGP.
Comparability Assessment OutcomeApplicants who undergo the comparability assessment may fall within three distinct categories: substantially comparable, partially comparable, or not comparable.
- Substantially comparable: The applicant has been found qualified to practice within the intended practice scope, taking full responsibility for all patients, with minimal supervision from a supervisor (peer review). After completing the PEP Specialist Stream Substantially Comparable Entry Policy and PEP Specialist Stream Substantially Comparable Requirements for Fellowship Policy, the candidate may submit an application for RACGP fellowship.
- Partially comparable: The applicant has been determined to be qualified to engage in a specific scope of practice under supervision and achieve Fellowship within 24 months of FTE practice. Following their compliance with the PEP Specialist Stream Partially Comparable Entry Policy and PEP Specialist Stream Partially Comparable Requirements for Fellowship, the applicant may then apply for fellowship.
- Not comparable: The candidate doesn’t meet the PEP specialist stream comparability criteria or has been determined to be unable to do so within 24 months of FTE practice. The applicant may, however, be qualified to finish the criteria of the RACGP fellowship assessment requirements through the RACGP’s Fellowship Support Program (FSP).
Finding RACGP-Approved GP JobsSIMGs who have decided to migrate to Australia and find RACGP-approved GP positions need all the help they can get to maximise their time, effort and financial investment.With Alecto, you know you’re getting expert assistance every step of the way as you navigate the complicated process of finding work and relocating. Before you move, we will assist you with the necessary documentation work, such as those involving passports, application numbers, visas, and many more.More importantly, Alecto can help you find RACGP-approved GP jobs. In fact, you can check out our website to find Australian GP jobs offered from across the country, including
Application for Registration and Provider NumberPrior to submitting an application for a provider number through the RACGP, qualified specialist international medical graduates must have their job offer approved by the RACGP first and be registered with the Medical Board of Australia (MBA).International medical graduates seeking registration to practise medicine in Australia must demonstrate their eligibility to follow one of the assessment pathways listed below:
- Competent authority pathway
- Standard pathway
- Specialist pathway
The evaluation process measures the knowledge and clinical abilities of IMGs aspiring for Australian medical registration eligibility.MBA registration and provider number applications can take several weeks to process and are only granted for the applicant’s authorised practice. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to work with an establishment like Alecto to get the support and guidance you need to undergo the necessary processes and meet all requirements.
Program Completion and RACGP FellowshipAfter completing the PEP, participants with a substantially or partially comparable assessment may be eligible for fellowship after satisfying certain requirements.
- Participants who complete the PEP Specialist Stream Substantially Comparable Entry Policy and PEP Specialist Stream Substantially Comparable Requirements for Fellowship Policy may submit an application for RACGP fellowship.
- Candidates who complete the PEP Specialist Stream Partially Comparable Entry Policy and PEP Specialist Stream Partially Comparable Requirements for Fellowship may apply for RACGP fellowship.
The road to RACGP fellowship is by no means an easy one. But once you attain RACGP fellowship, you can start benefiting from such an accomplishment right away.The FRACGP credential demonstrates that a GP has completed the highest level of training and has been deemed competent to practice independently. The FRACGP qualification also offers the following benefits:
- GPs can use the letters FRACGP after their name.
- They can claim of the highest Medicare rebates.
- They can get recognition as a fellow in Canada, New Zealand, and Ireland as part of a reciprocal agreement between Australian healthcare professional bodies or institutions and their counterparts in these countries.
Having a FRACGP credential also gives you access to many excellent career opportunities as a GP in Australia. And you’ll be glad to know that Alecto provides career counselling and undertakes GP recruitment for qualified GP registrars who’ve taken the RACGP-FRACGP exams and are awaiting the results.Get in touch with Alecto today!
|PEP Specialist Stream||Substantially Comparable||Partially Comparable|
|Program fee for PEP specialist stream, which includes:
· Meetings with medical educators and support
· Workplace-based evaluation
· Multiple-source feedback tool
· PEP portal and learning module access
· Provider number
authorisation and management
· General program administration
|RACGP Membership Fee (Registrar)||$474*||$474*|
· Applied Knowledge Test (AKT)
· Key Feature Problem (KFP)
· Clinical Competency Examination (CCE)