The road to GP Fellowship can be a prolonged and complicated process that requires a considerable level of personal and academic commitment. Which is why it is important to plan your route before you embark on your journey towards General Practice in Australia to minimize hazards and too many unexpected hurdles. Working in General Practice in a country like Australia should be nothing but enjoyable and challenging and does not have to be knotty.
Let us guide you throughout your training and keep you on the right path to achieving registration to practice independently as a General Practitioner in Australia.
What is a GP Fellowship?
A GP Fellowship is a formal recognition of your academic and professional qualification that offers the registration required to practice as a General Practitioner in Australia.
There are various pathways to being recognized as a General Practitioner in Australia. Each GP Training program has specific eligibility criteria. As an applicant, you need to self-review your individual eligibility for each GP Training Program.
In Medicine, the term ‘fellow’ is used to describe a doctor who has completed advanced training in an area of medicine or surgery to become a specialist in that particular field. Each specialty the relevant academic institutions have their own set of regulations and training requirements. However, most institutions require the following to enter specialty training:
· Medical Degree
· 1-2 years of residency
Typically, specialty training would take 3 to 7 years depending on the specialty. Fully qualified specialists would supervise Trainee Specialists throughout these years. Trainee Specialists will have to sit for exams, undertake rigorous training, and complete all training requirements and then be elected to Fellowship.
Medical colleges have several pathways into general practice in Australia. Depending on the colleges, the flexibility offered in training and the support options may vary. There are two medical colleges through which you can obtain a GP Fellowship.
1. Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM),
resulting in the qualification Fellowship of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (FACRRM) which is a four-year full-time equivalent qualification available to registrars on the Rural Pathway.
2. Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP),
resulting in the qualification Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (FRACGP) which takes three-years equivalent to complete and is available to registrars on both the General and Rural Pathway.
RACGP also results in the Fellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice (FARGP),which is an additional qualification available to all registrars and is completed alongside FRACGP. The FARGP is a year of advanced skills training as part of the four-year program. These fellowships are accredited by the Australian Medical Council and open the door for general practitioner registration and the ability to work independently as a GP anywhere in Australia. Steps to Obtaining a FellowshipFellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice (FARGP)
These fellowships are accredited by the Australian Medical Council and open the door for general practitioner registration and the ability to work independently as a GP anywhere in Australia.
Steps to Obtaining a Fellowship
Generally, the steps for achieving Fellowship with RACGP or ACRRM are:
1. Successful completion of the
Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program
2. Fulfilling training requirements
based on the medical college.
3. Successful completion of the exams
and assessments administered by the colleges.
Make sure you understand the differences when deciding which college to apply to, and what training pathway to undertake.
If you are deciding on a fellowship path and need some guidance, a chat with Medfuture recruitment consultants via [email protected] might help. Medfuture has proven track records of helping doctors succeed in their journey in medicine.
Working in Australian General Practice
In order to work in General Practice in Australia, you have to be able to access Medicare for your patients. Medicare is Australia’s universal healthcare system. Basically, they help Australians with the cost of most of their healthcare services. Australian citizens and permanent residents can enrol in Medicare scheme and get your healthcare costs covered. However, not all medical services are paid for.
If you are not able to charge for Medicare in General Practice, it would be a severe disadvantage as most patients might choose not to see you and instead go to a GP who is able to access Medicare, considering affordability.
The Australian Government provides funding for medical services through rebating items that GPs can charge for. These are called Medicare Items. There are two levels of rebates for GPs,
· A1, which entitles the patient to
100% of the rebate &
· A2, where the patient claims 80% of
the Medicare rebate.
Medicare Provider Number
A Medicare Provider Number is a unique number you get if you are an eligible healthcare professional recognized for Medicare Services. You need a Medicare Provider Number to claim, bill, refer or request Medicare Services. The Medicare Benefits Schedule lists all services covered by Medicare. The Medicare Benefits Schedule also provides details on how much the Government pays you or the patient for the healthcare service.
What Restrictions Apply to You?
There are several rules in place on who exactly is entitled to get a Medicare Provider Number.
Restrictions would apply to you either if you got your medical degree outside of Australia or New Zealand OR if you enrolled in a degree in Australia or New Zealand as a temporary resident. Restrictions are stated in Australia’s Health Insurance Act 1973.
Section 19AA of the Health Insurance Act was introduced in 1996 to recognize General Practice as a vocational specialty. Before this, any doctor with General Registration could charge for General Practice items under Medicare. After 1996, a system of Vocational Registration was introduced and doctors there onwards had to be recognized, preferably through gaining a fellowship, that they are qualified enough to serve as a General Practitioner.
Doctors subject to Section 19AA are:
who have attained Australian Medical Board Registration on or after 01.11.96;
who do not hold continued recognition with the Royal Australian College of General
Practice (RACGP) or Australian College of Rural and
Remote Medicine (ACRRM).
Your 19AA restriction ends once you achieve recognition through a Fellowship with a Specialist College.
What if You Are Not Vocationally Registered?
If you are not Vocationally Registered, you should be on a 3GA Program in order to access Medicare benefits regardless of whether you are a doctor trained in Australia or Overseas. Working with 3GA Programs enable access to a Provider Number that can ensure your patients receive 100% of the Medicare Rebate.
For further information on this, check out our blog on 3GA Programs and your eligibility to pursue them.
If you want to clarify what restrictions apply to you, reach out to Medfuture via [email protected] and we would guide you through and clear your doubts so you can confidently step into the next phase of your medical career.