Fast track for overseas-trained specialists

2 minute read

Priority specialities to be brought on as soon as October.

The Medical Board of Australia has announced a new fast-track system to import specialist international medical graduates, with GPs, anaesthetists, psychiatrists and obstetricians and gynaecologists the priority.

The new registration pathway – one of the recommendations of the the Kruk review released in December – will “sit alongside the existing specialist medical college assessment system”, and participants will initially have conditions on their registration “as a safeguard to protect patients” during their induction.

With National Cabinet applying pressure on AHPRA and the boards to act on the regulatory hurdles for IMGs, the aspirational start dates are October this year for GPs and December for the other specialities.

The board is currently consulting the colleges on a list of qualifications that will allow applicants to bypass college assessment in Australia and go straight to the board for specialist registration.

“Under the proposal, they would then work as a specialist under supervision for six months and complete Medical Board requirements such as cultural safety and orientation to the Australian healthcare system,” said Dr Susan O’Dwyer, lead on the MBA’s specialist IMG taskforce.

“Once the requirements are completed satisfactorily, they would be granted unconditional specialist registration.

“The key message from this review is that removing outdated regulatory barriers faced by internationally qualified health practitioners will improve care for Australians.”

The board will hold a consultation process on the registration standard before it is reviewed and signed off by health ministers.

Former chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy told the board’s annual meeting last month that doctor shortages had persisted despite migration returning to pre-pandemic levels, “without clear evidence that the Australian training pipeline of doctors will resolve them any time soon”.

“This is an international marketplace where we must be competitive, and we must be attractive to those doctors and other healthcare professionals who might want to come here,” he said.

However, Professor Murphy also said migration was not a long-term solution.

“There is a material risk in my view that the ‘sugar hit’ of a migration boost will be seen as easier than the necessary reforms to the training and distribution of Australian trained doctors,” he said.

“These require us to, once again, focus on implementing the National Medical Workforce Strategy, including its important self-sufficiency goal.”

The AMA was approached for comment.

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