Your Guide to Becoming a GP in Australia

Have you ever envisioned yourself working as a general practitioner or GP in Australia? If so, then you’re off to a good start. Taking up a general practitioner job in Australia can be completely rewarding, as it is definitely one of the most crucial roles in the healthcare system.

If you’re an Australian aspiring to become a GP or a general practitioner in the UK (or some other country) looking to move to or work for a GP practice in Australia, then you’ll find this post quite helpful.

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What Is a General Practitioner?

So, what is a GP in Australia? Is a general practitioner the same as a general physician?

GPs are doctors who have undergone general practice training in medicine. They have the expertise and ability to treat any health problems people typically encounter during their lifetime.

Because GPs typically work with communities, they have opportunities to get to know individuals and families living in the same area. This gives them the unique ability to deliver care that is tailored to the needs and situation of their patients and their families.

A general practitioner in Australia is known as a general physician in the United States, so they refer to the same thing.

Pathways for International Medical Graduates and Overseas Trained Doctors

If you are an international medical graduate or a doctor trained overseas, there are steps and pathways to becoming a GP in Australia you can follow.

Get registered as a medical practitioner.

There are specific registration pathways available for internationally trained medical practitioners:

Competent Authority Pathway

This path leads to general registration and is open to internationally trained non-specialists or specialists.

The Australian Medical Board has approved a number of international authorities as being qualified to participate in this program. Applicants who have completed training or assessments from an authorised competent body are eligible to apply for a provisional registration visa through this route.

Approved competent authorities include:

  • Educational commission for Foreign Medical Graduates of the US (USMLE)
  • General Medical Council (UK)
  • Medical Council of Canada (LMCC)
  • Medical Council of Ireland
  • Medical Council of New Zealand (NZREX)

Internationally trained doctors must hold a primary qualification in medicine or surgery from a training institution recognized by both the Australian Medical Council and the World Directory of Medical Schools.

Applicants who follow this course will be granted temporary registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) after successfully completing 12 months of supervised practice.

Specialist Pathway

This route is open to doctors who have received their primary training in medicine and surgery at a training institution that is recognized by both the Australian Medical Council and the World Directory of Medical Schools.

Applicants must have completed all training and examination criteria to practice in their field of specialty in their country of training or be no more than two years away from completing their specialist training overseas to be eligible for registration. Overseas trained specialists should apply directly to the relevant specialist medical college for assessment.

Apply for a visa.

If you have a valid visa, such as a temporary employer-sponsored visa, you can work in Australia under provisional registration as an overseas-trained doctor.

Provisional registration is not regarded a full positive skills assessment; therefore, overseas qualified medical practitioners cannot yet apply for a general skilled visa. You need full registration status before a general skilled visa may be considered.

Undergo skills assessment.

Evidence of full registration with AHPRA would enable a suitable skills assessment to be conducted for medical doctors.

Pass English language requirements.

You have four options for demonstrating English language proficiency. These pathways are as follows:

  • Primary language
  • Combined secondary and tertiary education
  • Extended education
  • English language test

Applicants from various fields can take the IELTS, PTE Academic, and TOEFL iBT tests.

Get accredited.

The National General Practice Accreditation (NGPA) Scheme oversees accreditation in Australia.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) developed this Scheme to link GP accreditation with the Australian Health Service Safety and Quality Accreditation Scheme.

The NGPA Scheme gives practices seeking certification more options, improves support programs for accreditation implementation, and (in the future) will allow practices to gather and publish accreditation performance data to benchmark themselves.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Standards are used to evaluate practices.

Employment and GP Job Options for Overseas Trained Doctors

All Overseas Trained Doctors (OTD/IMG/FGAMS) who obtained their initial medical registration in Australia on or before 1 January 1997 are covered by Section 19AB of the Health Insurance Act.

Moreover, international medical graduates who are GPs must work in a distribution priority area for the first ten years of their medical registration in Australia to be eligible for Medicare under Section 19AB.

At Alecto, you’re sure to find DPA GP jobs in Australia.

Find out what’s available for you today!

What Does a GP Do in Australia and What Is It Like Being a GP?

What does a GP doctor do? When a person has a health problem, they usually go to their GP first. As a GP, you can treat minor illnesses and injuries whilst referring more serious conditions to specialist doctors.

Overall, these are the primary tasks of a general practitioner:

  • Keeping complete, up-to-date records and files on all patient treatments and communications for their own practice and Medicare.
  • Organising or facilitating hospital admissions for patients, as necessary.
  • Performing simple medical operations such as injections, immunisation, skin cancer removal, wound dressings, sutures, and minor surgical procedures.
  • Providing guidance or advice to patients concerning their diet and nutrition, exercise, healthcare plans, and other lifestyle factors to help them recover from or avoid sickness.
  • Providing professional patient-centred treatment that addresses the health requirements of patients whilst also encouraging wellness.
  • Staying abreast with the most recent medical treatments and medications used in general practice and primary healthcare.

As a general practitioner, you’ll have a thorough understanding of medicine and many opportunities to develop your ability to evaluate patients efficiently.

A GP is qualified to provide general health advice and to provide prescriptions. You may even find yourself serving as a patient’s main point of contact many times, and coordinating their general health requirements.

How to Become a GP in Australia?

As an aspiring GP, your foremost concern would be how to become a GP in Australia and obtain a general practitioner degree.

Below, we outline the steps and pathways on how to become a general practitioner in Australia:

Specialisation

General registration follows graduation from medical school and completion of an internship for Australian medical graduates. Specialisation necessitates more training and research, as well as approval from the Medical Board of Australia.

General practice is recognised as a medical speciality in Australia (referred to as ‘GP Fellowship’). The Australian Medical Council (AMC) has granted general practice Fellowship training to the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

Doctors training to become vocationally recognised (VR) GPs have access to the highest value Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items by participating in a formal pathway to GP Fellowship. Formal training best prepares doctors for the responsibilities that GPs have in the community, as well as the increasing complexity and variety of their work.

GP Fellowship Training

To be recognised and work independently as a specialist GP, you will need to qualify as a Fellow of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (FACRRM) or as a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (FRACGP).

Both Fellowships lead to Vocational Recognition and registration under the Specialist (General Practice) category with the Medical Board of Australia. These qualifications allow you to work unsupervised as a GP anywhere in Australia. MBS eligibility rules may continue to apply to some doctors.

Pathways to GP Fellowship

You can complete your general practice training and earn your Fellowship in a variety of ways. Your interests and circumstances will influence the course you take.

In Australia, there are several pathways to general practice and two medical colleges where you can get a GP fellowship. While both the ACRRM and the RACGP Fellowships allow you to practise as a GP in Australia, the technicalities differ. Make sure you understand the differences before choosing which college to apply to.

Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine Fellowship Pathways

  • Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program: Designed for graduates and experienced doctors who desire a more structured, educator-directed learning environment. Since the training is funded by the government, there are certain eligibility requirements. Training is provided by one of nine Regional Training Organisations (RTO) around Australia. For Australian doctors, the AGPT program is the most common pathway they take.
  • Independent Pathway (IP): This pathway is ideal for experienced doctors who wish to opt for self-directed learning is preferred by experienced doctors. Aside from handling the application, selection, and enrolment, the ACRRM provides training that is self-funded, not RTOs. However, there are additional expenses for exams, applications, membership, and so on. However, eligible doctors can apply for Commonwealth funding support. International medical graduates and Australian nationals interested in rural general practice may take this route.
  • Rural Generalist Training Scheme (RGTS): The Rural Generalist Training Scheme (RGTS) is a fully funded four-year stream of the college-led Independent Pathway that leads to an ACRRM Fellowship (FACRRM).

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Fellowship Pathways

  • Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program: This is essentially the same program as the one offered at ACRRM.
  • Practice Experience Program (PEP): The PEP program includes two streams; that is, the PEP Standard Stream and Specialist Stream. The Standard Stream is intended for non-VR doctors who do not have specialist degrees and those who were assessed as non-comparable after undergoing a Specialist stream comparability evaluation. The Specialist Stream is intended for international medical graduates (IMGs) that have a recognised overseas specialty qualification and who want to be eligible for RACGP Fellowship (FRACGP).
  • Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS): The RVTS is a flexible, government-funded program that provides vocational training for medical practitioners in rural, remote, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander areas across Australia.

Whichever pathway you choose will require you to have experience working in general practice and hospital specialties that are relevant to GP work. You will also have to attend educational workshops, teaching sessions, and invest significant amounts of personal study.

How Long Does It Take to Become a GP in Australia?

Now that you already have some basic information on the pathways to GP Fellowship, you may be wondering how long it takes to become a GP.

In Australia, becoming a general practitioner takes many years of formal education and training.

  • Bachelor of Medical Studies or Doctor of Medicine: 4 to 6 years
  • Internship: 1 year
  • Resident Training: 1 to 2 years
  • Medical Specialisation: 3 to 5 years
  • GP Fellowship: 3 years

Based on the above alone, you’ll know that studying to become a general practitioner requires commitment, diligence and hard work.

In the end, however, you will be rewarded with a fulfilling medical career that allows you to help many people whilst also providing you with a very decent source of income. Who knows, you may even establish your own clinic one day.

But if you’re looking for GP career opportunities, you’ll have plenty to choose from at Alecto, so make sure to check them out.

How Much Do GPs Earn in Australia?

If you’re considering work as a GP in Australia, then you’ll naturally be curious about the salary of a general practitioner in Australia.

According to our most recent GP salary survey (December 2021), the average GP compensation for doctors who work seven or more sessions per week is $253,000 (full time). The average annual compensation for part-time GPs working six sessions or fewer per week is $194,000 per year.

In the UK, sessional (salaried) GPs earn between GBP 61,346 ($106,533.46) and 96,278 ($167,196.37).

Upon close examination of these figures, it’s obvious that Australian GPs earn more than their UK counterparts. If we add to this observation to earlier anecdotal evidence from UK GPs who chose to work in Australia because of the work-life balance opportunities here, being a GP in Australia is a better choice overall.

Visa Options for International Medical Graduates (IMGs)

If you are an overseas medical graduate with a job offer in Australia, need to be informed about the best doctor visa options in Australia.

You will need to apply for a visa for yourself and any family members who will be joining you.

In most cases, your employer or the recruitment agency that handled your application will provide guidance and support in getting the proper visas.

The Temporary Business (Long Stay) visa (Subclass 457), which has a faster application process, is the recommended temporary visa pathway for doctors, according to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Candidates invited to work in the country and who satisfy all legal, immigration and professional requirements may be issued the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189).

In any case, the Department of Home Affairs (external site) of the Australian government is in charge of processing and reviewing visa applications as well as ensuring compliance with Australia’s immigration rules.

Most Important Medical Associations in Australia

Whether you’re planning to be a GP in Australia or are already leading a successful career, it’s worth knowing about the following important medical associations and institutions in Australia.

  • Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA): AHPRA The is in charge of implementing the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme n throughout Australia.
  • Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP): General practitioners in Australia are represented by the RACGP. It is in charge of upholding quality clinical practice, teaching and training, and research in general practice in Australia.
  • Australian Medical Association (AMA): The AMA is a professional association for Australian doctors and medical students.
  • Australian Medical Students Association (AMSA): AMSA is an independent association of medical students in Australia. It functions as the representative body for Australian medical students with a goal of connecting, informing and representing them in all relevant matters.
  • Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM): The ACRRM is one of Australia’s two general practice colleges (the other being RACGP) certified by the Australian Medical Council (AMC).

By getting trained in or certified by these establishments, you’ll be enhancing your professional qualifications and opening more doors to a successful career as a general practitioner.

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