In our previous post on General Practice Fellowships in Australia we touched upon GP Fellowships, the importance of having access to Medicare as a GP and the restrictions and eligibility for Medicare as per the Section 19AA of the Health Insurance Act.
Let us now focus on the options of recognized training programs that will allow GPs to gain access to Medicare and start practicing.
When working in General Practice in Australia, Medicare access is one of the most fundamental and beneficial requirements so that patients find your service more affordable and you would attract more patients to your practice. After the introduction of Section 19AA, to get a Medicare Provider Number doctors must be recognized as a General Practitioner—which means doctors who are not Vocationally Registered, should gain registration on an approved 3GA program. If you are not Vocationally Registered, you will not be able to access Medicare benefits. This legislation relates to both Australian Citizens as well as immigrated overseas doctors who obtained citizenship.
All Doctors are subject to restrictions of Section 19AA if they:
· Hold an Australian medical board registration on or after 1st of November 1996
· Are permanent residents or Australian citizens
· Do not hold continued recognition with the Royal Australian College of General Practice (RACGP) or Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM).
Be that as it may, many approved training programs will enable doctors to access a Medicare Provider Number to ensure patients receive 100% of the Medicare rebate. You can shift from one program to another but cannot be on programs simultaneously.
The following 3GA Programs can be applied to once you complete the Australian Medical Council (AMC) examination. The AMC examination consists of 3 levels, the computer adaptive test (CAT) multiple choice question (MCQ) exam, AMC Clinical exam and AMC Workplace-based Assessment. Find out more on AMC Examination here.
Your 3GA program options depend on the eligibility criteria presented by the college and perhaps your practice location.
The Australian General Practice Training Program (AGPT)
The Australian General Practice Training Program is the main pathway for Doctors trained in Australia to involve in a General Practice training program to charge for Medicare items while undertaking training. The AGPT program is also the key 3GA program for IMGs who go through the Standard pathway process completing the AMC certificate requirements and one year of supervised practice.
Ø ACRRM- Provides training on the Rural Pathway only.
Ø RACGP- Provides training on the General and the Rural Pathways.
You can choose to apply for General or Rural streams. However, IMG doctors will have to go for Rural streams since you will be restricted to Distribution Priority Area –locations with healthcare workforce shortages.
There is a selection process and eligibility criteria to enter the AGPTP.
The cost of undertaking this program nil to low. The program is Commonwealth government funded and includes complete in-practice training, workshops, supervision, and education support.
ACRRM Independent Pathway
Partially funded by the Australian Government to facilitate the growth of skilled GPs, the Independent Pathway is a relatively flexible pathway designed to address areas of healthcare workforce shortages across Australia.
According to the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, the Independent Pathway provides:
- Individualized case management from your dedicated Training Officer and
- Personalized guidance from your Medical Educator
- A comprehensive and structured online and face-to-face education program
- A flexible learning experience through self-guided and facilitated online courses
- Ability to choose your adventure and live, work and train in amazing locations nationally
- Recognition of Prior Learning
ACRRM Non-Vocationally Registered Support Program
The ACRRM Non-Vocationally Registered Support Program is similar to the ACRRM Independent Pathway. However, there is up to $15,000 Commonwealth support provided to achieve the fellowship.
Non-vocationally registered (Non-VR) medical practitioners are required to participate in an approved Fellowship training program to maintain 100% Medicare billing. Medical practitioners have until 30 June 2023 to either achieve Fellowship or be undertaking Fellowship training, or their Medicare billing will be reduced to 80%.
See here for the Eligibility criteria for this program.
The More Doctors for Rural Australia Program (MDRAP) is a new 3GA program that enables doctors who are non-vocationally registered to work in rural regions and access Medicare.
Practice Experience Pathway (PEP)
RACGP’s Practice Experience Pathway is a self-directed education program designed to support Non-Vocationally Registered Doctors on achieving the RACGP Fellowship. This Non-VR support program is funded under the Australian Government’s (Department of Health) Stronger Rural Health Strategy for Doctors based in MMM2 to MMM7.
The 12-18-month program costs $2000 per 6 months for which funding assistance may be provided through the commonwealth funding support.
Applicants of PEP must meet the program eligibility requirements detailed in the RACGP Policy to sit Fellowship exams.
After Hours Medical Deputising Services (AMDS)
The Approved Medical Deputising Services (AMDS) Program offers non-vocationally recognised (non-VR) doctors the opportunity to gain general practice experience. Participants are granted access to Medicare benefits for providing deputising services to the community through an AMDS.
To participate in the AMDS Program, you need to meet the following criteria:
- Be a non-VR doctor actively working towards Fellowship
- Hold limited, provisional, or general medical registration with the Medical Board of Australia (MBA)
- Hold a current Level 1 Advanced Life Support (ALS) Course Certificate
- Have at least two years of post-graduate experience, including paediatrics, accident and emergency, and medicine and surgery.
Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS)
Doctors undertaking the Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) program can train towards the FRACGP or FACRRM. The program provides training for doctors working in a rural location, Aboriginal Medical Service or amongst Torres Strait Islander communities.
The scheme requires GP experience of at least 2 years at the practice you work in. This is a flexible, government-funded program with remote supervision and educator support.
RVTS has two streams of trainees:
Ø The Remote Stream for doctors working in rural & remote Australia (*Modified Monash Model 4-7)
Ø The AMS Stream, providing training for doctors working in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (*Modified Monash Model 2-7)
Rural Locum Relief Program (RLRP)
The objective of the Rural Locum Relief Program (RLRP) is to ensure that Australian rural and remote communities have access to suitably experienced and skilled medical practitioners. The RLRP is an approved program under Section 3GA of the Act and is administered by Rural Workforce Agencies in each State and the Northern Territory.
The program allows medical practitioners in rural and remote areas who are subject to 19AA of the act, to have temporary access to Medicare rebates when short term services are provided through approved placements.
To know about 3GA programs or to discuss eligibility
requirements for a specific pathway, reach out to Medfuture Medical Recruitment
Specialists via email@example.com.