RACGP changes for IMGs: (PEP) Specialist Stream – A simple guide

16 September 2019 | Australian GPs, Clinic Owners and Practice Managers, UK/Ireland GPs | 4 minutes read

RACGP changes for IMGs: (PEP) Specialist Stream – A simple guide


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The new Practice Experience Pathway (PEP) Specialist Stream has come into effect on September 1, 2019 and replaces the Specialist Recognition Program. The previous program was used by many GPs moving from the UK to work in Australia.

 What is PEP?

The Practice Experience Program (PEP) Specialist Stream provides a pathway for international medical graduates (IMGS) with overseas specialist qualifications to gain Fellowship with the RACGP (FRACGP).

The PEP has two streams, the standard and specialist streams. More info on the two different streams can be found here.

Supported by the Australian Government’s Stronger Rural Health Strategy, PEP is the new specialist general practitioner training and self-directed education program for SIMGs to attain Fellowship with the RACGP.

What are the main changes?

  • The RACGP has this week confirmed that overseas-trained GPs who are assessed as Substantially Comparable will be eligible to work in MMM1 areas as long as their position is located in a comprehensive general practice setting. It is the GP’s responsibility to ensure they can obtain a 19AB exemption for their chosen location.
  • Those that are Partially Comparable or those under the PEP General Stream are still not eligible to work in MMM1 areas.
  • To ensure that SIMGs are practicing at the level of Australian specialists, the RACGP no longer awards instant Fellowship ad eudum gradum to SIMGs but will instead require them to undergo a more comprehensive assessment and a period of practice under peer review. SIMGs must apply for limited or provisional registration with AHPRA whilst working towards Fellowship.
  • To enter the PEP Specialist Stream pathway, SIMGs are required to take a comparability assessment. The assessment decides whether you are Substantially Comparable, Partially Comparable or Not Comparable.

There is still some uncertainty about how the comparability assessment will be conducted as a number of unexpected requirements were introduced in late August 2019. It is unclear how many of these will be carried over to the new PEP Specialist Stream.

Although this news is encouraging, other changes such as the requirement for Health Workforce Certificates and the changes to DPA maps, it will be more difficult to fill positions in MMM1 areas in the future than it was prior to March 2019.

What factors are considered in the comparability assessment?

The information we have at hand indicates that RACGP will examine the following factors:

  • Your Specialist qualifications
  • Where and how you obtained your specialist qualifications
  • What examinations you completed for specialist qualification
  • Other qualifications
  • Recency and continuity of practice
  • Your experience in general practice
  • Participation in professional development

The pathway opens to new countries

Another positive outcome from the recent changes is that certification from more countries than ever have been assessed as substantially comparable.

  • Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners, UK
  • Membership of the Irish College of General Practitioners
  • Fellowship of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners
  • Certification in the College of Family Physicians of Canada
  • Certificate of Specific Training for General Practice Sweden
  • Certificate of Specific Training for General Practice Netherlands
  • Specialist in Family and Community Medicine, Spain

We are currently waiting on the outcome for cases from Belgium and Germany.

How long does it take to gain Fellowship with RACGP?

The time required to gain Fellowship with RACGP depends on the outcome of your comparability assessment:

  • Applicants deemed Substantially Comparable will be required to complete 12 months of full-time practice within 2 years.
  • Applicants deemed Partially Comparable will be required to complete 2 years of full-time practice within 4 years as well as pass the Fellowship exams.

What’s does the new pathway to Fellowship look like?

The pathway depends on whether you are deemed Substantially Comparable or Partially Comparable. Below is a chart from the RACGP website that outlines the two different pathways.

PEP Specialist Stream Fact Sheet Flowchart
IMG Source: RACGP Website

If you have any questions in relation to your future recruitment requirements please contact us at info@alecto.com.au.

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