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FRACGP

FRACGP

Fellowship of the Royal College of General Practitioners

After arriving in Australia you will be guided to commence studying for the FRACGP.
The reasons for this and some of the guidance required to succeed are discussed here.

1. What is Vocational Registration, and why was it introduced?

Vocational Registration (VR) for general practice was introduced in 1993, in an attempt to improve professional standards and reward high quality practice. It also gives recognition to general practice as a discipline, or even a specialty, in its own right, rather than just a ‘catch all’ grouping for doctors who are not surgeons, physicians, gynaecologists etc.

Being a VR GP gives access to special Medicare item numbers and higher Medicare rebates, which translates into a higher income.

GPs with VR are required to fulfill the RACGP Quality Assurance & Continuing Professional Development (QA & CPD) criteria in order to remain vocational registration.. This involves a combination of educational activities and assessment/audit of practice which is completed in rolling 3 year periods.
Ensure you keep a good record of your attendance at all CPD activities.

Importantly for OTDs, Fellowship of the RACGP, and full registration there after will enable an application for Permanent Residency to be made. Thus it is a crucial step on the road to long-term stability and security for your life and practice in Australia.

2. How is it obtained?

The process is set out in detail at the RACGP website.
The most common method for OTDs is to obtain Fellowship of the RACGP via the Practice Route. Some overseas GP qualifications are recognised as having status by the RACGP. In each case, the doctor must have a minimum of 5 years GP experience, a minimum of 1 year of which must be within Australia.

It is possible to enrol in the assessment process with a total of 4 years GP experience, but the Fellowship can not be granted until the 5 year mark. The RACGP Censor-in-Chief is responsible for deciding what constitutes GP experience. Note that there is a fee payable for this assessment process.

Candidates for Fellowship must also pass the Fellowship examination. ( Multiple sitting are allowed if requried.)
In order to sit this examination, you must have:

1) current medical registration,
2) be a current financial member or associate of the RACGP, and also
3) have completed a basic CPR course within the last 12 months.
4) Be able to show record of CPD activities in that time.

3. The Fellowship examination has two components

The Written Component
AKT (Applied Knowledge Test) 150 questions to be completed in four hours
KFP (Key Feature Problems) 26 questions to be completed in three hours.
The Clinical Component
This consists of approximately 17 stations, 14 active stations and three rest stations. It takes approximately four hours.

Details about the exam can be found at
www.racgp.org.au/exam/
The Examination handbook can be downloaded as a PDF document from a link on that page.
You may also wish to consider formal preparation for the Fellowship examination, details of which can be found at:
www.gplearning.gpea.com.au/
It is expected the doctor will meet the full cost of the fees themselves. The cost is likely to be somewhere between $3000 and $10,000, which is a substantial investment, but should be viewed in the context of the benefits that Fellowship provides, and is recognised as a high-quality process with good outcomes.

A small number of OTDs may be granted Fellowship without further assessment. This applies only to those with specific GP qualifications from New Zealand, Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom. These Doctors can apply via “Fellowship Ad Eundum Gradum.”
In mid 2008 the fee is approx $995 including membership for a year.

4. Practical Advice & Resources

You may have noticed by now the frequency with which the RACGP has been mentioned already. Joining the RACGP as a Member or as an Associate is effectively mandatory.

However, in addition to being a requirement for the Fellowship examination, it also offers a number of useful benefits. General practice in Australia is different to that in any other country, although of course some countries have more similarities than others.

Being part of the RACGP means that you will receive the College journal, Australian Family Physician, which is an excellent window into GP life and standards in Australia. It also offers useful, practically-oriented articles, usually grouped into themed issues of the journal, as well as discounted prices for a range of books and educational activities.
If you are, or intend, practicing in a rural or remote area, you may also wish to consider joining the Australian College of Rural & Remote Medicine (ACRRM). ACRRM also offers valuable insights into the special features of rural practice, as well as delivering education on line and hosting specific educational events.
The ACRRM home page can be found at: www.acrrm.org.au/

You may feel rather overwhelmed, and also concerned about the time demands and costs that will be incurred. Remember that you don’t have to accomplish it all in the first 6 weeks after you arrive in Australia!

In most cases, you cannot apply to commence the process any earlier than 12 months after you begin working in Australian general practice.

Whilst not wishing to minimise the process, you should bear in mind that most doctors who begin this process pass without undue difficulty. This is true for Australian and overseas trained GPs.

In our experience is that our doctors have a first time pass rate for the Fellowship exam of about 75%. It is likely that many of the costs that you incur will be tax deductible here in Australia, although you should seek professional advice in that regards before claiming a deduction.

Once you have successfully obtained your Fellowship of the RACGP, you may be justifiably proud of having passed a rigorous assessment process, and being part of a body recognised internationally for its excellence.