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Recognition granted for overseas trained medical specialists

24 June, 2008

Specialist training and practice in Australia generally follows the model of postgraduate advanced clinical training and examinations developed in the United Kingdom.

National specialist medical colleges set and administer programs of specialist medical training and examinations.

The Australian state and territory medical boards have agreed to accept overseas-trained specialists who are recognised by Australian or Australasian specialist medical colleges for registration to practise in their field of specialisation.

The purpose of the specialist assessment procedure is to determine the equivalence of overseas-trained specialists' training and qualifications with those of Australian-trained specialists. The AMC administers the procedure, but the appropriate specialist medical college assesses the applicant's training and experience.

Special, fast-track procedures are available for overseas-trained specialists in defined 'areas of need'. 

The specialist assessment procedure is a separate pathway from the AMC examinations. Applicants for specialist assessment can apply separately to the AMC to sit for the AMC examinations for non-specialist registration.

Assessment of specialist medical qualifications

Specialist practice in Australia

Specialist medical training and practice in Australia arose from the model of postgraduate advanced clinical training developed in the United Kingdom. National specialist medical colleges set the standards of training and coordinate the training, education and examination of medical specialists in Australia.

Standards for specialist assessment

Overseas-trained specialists applying for specialist assessment will be expected to have satisfied all the training and examination requirements to practise in their field of specialty in their country of training.

The standard applied to the assessment of overseas trained specialists will be a standard of comparability to an Australian trained specialist in that field. Where components of the specialist medical college examination and assessment procedures are applied, they will be the same components or derived from the same examination components that apply to local specialist trainees.

Eligibility for specialist assessment

To be eligible for assessment as a specialist, you must hold a primary degree in medicine and surgery issued by a medical school listed in the WHO publication World Directory of Medical Schools, the International Medical Education Directory (IMED) of the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research, or other publications approved by the AMC.

Degrees in traditional Chinese medicine and the degree of Doctor of Osteopathy (awarded in the United States) are not recognised as primary qualifications for the purposes of specialist assessment.

You must also have completed formal postgraduate training in one of the fields of specialist medical practice recognised in Australia.

You do not have to hold Australian or New Zealand permanent resident status or citizenship.

We reserve the right to verify the authenticity of your formal qualifications directly with the awarding institution or through recognised international agencies, such as the International Credentials Services of the United States Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (EICS).

Procedures for assessment of overseas specialist qualifications

Fellows of Australian specialist medical colleges

If you are a Fellow of an Australian or Australasian specialist medical college in a recognised field of specialisation, you may apply direct to the relevant state or territory medical board for conditional registration.

Overseas-trained specialists who are not Fellows of an Australian specialist college

Note: If you have access to the internet specialist applications can be made online

For other overseas-trained specialists, the procedures are:

  1. Apply online or complete and return the preliminary application form and fee.
  2. The AMC will send you a copy of the Information Booklet for Applicants and further application forms.
  3. Return the application forms, required documentation and assessment fee to the AMC. They will assess your eligibility to present for specialist assessment by the relevant specialist medical college. If you are eligible and your documentation meets the requirements, they will forward your documentation to the assessing college.
  4. The college will assess your application. You will need to pay the college's interview or assessment fees directly to the college.
    Applicants for assessment by the Adult Medicine Division or the Paediatrics and Child Health Division of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians will be required by the college to complete an Application Form for an Overseas Trained Physician/Paediatrician Seeking Assessment by The Royal Australasian College of Physicians.
  5. When the college assessment is complete, the AMC will advise you and the state and territory medical boards of the outcome.
If you are currently living overseas, it is in your own interests not to leave your country before we have confirmed your eligibility to have your specialist qualifications assessed and the assessment has been completed.

College assessment procedures

The specialist medical colleges' assessment procedures follow their formal assessment programs as applied to local trainees.

The assessment may include:
  • initial assessment of documentary evidence of specialist training overseas and relevant experience, including a review of log books, etc.
  • a formal interview
  • Part I or Primary Examination of the relevant college (or a modified examination based on the Part I Examination)
  • further specialist training
  • Part II (Membership or Fellowship) Examination (or a modified examination based on the Part II Examination).
Most colleges require applicants to present for an examination as part of the assessment process.

Note: The colleges' assessment requirements and procedures may be changed at any time.

College requires further training

It has been found that many overseas-trained doctors require advanced specialist training to meet the standards required to practise in Australia.

After initial assessment by a college, you may be given restricted registration by a medical board for up to two years to complete supervised specialist practice, where the college has specified this as a requirement for full registration. If the college directs you to complete more than two years of further training, the state or territory medical boards may require you to pass the AMC examinations and obtain the AMC certificate to gain unconditional registration.

While you might fulfil a college's requirements for registration to practise in Australia, you might not be eligible to apply for election to fellowship of the college without meeting further requirements of the college. This could include some form of bridging training or experience. Further information should be sought from the relevant college.

There are limited numbers of advanced training positions in Australia, and these are subject to open competition with Australian specialist trainees.

What the AMC does not do:

  • The AMC cannot advise you on your specialist qualifications, training or experience without completing a formal assessment through the procedures outlined in this website.
  • They cannot provide further information on the training, examination or other requirements of the specialist medical colleges. You should direct enquiries about such matters to the relevant college.
  • They are not involved in issuing visas or migration to Australia. Direct such enquiries to the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship. 
  • They are not involved in the employment of doctors in Australia. Further information on employment is available from Australian State and Territory and Health Departments. 
  • They do not process applications for postgraduate or specialist training in Australia. Further information may be available from the relevant specialist medical college. 
Further training and/or examinations requirements

Periods of advanced specialist training will conform with normal college requirements of an accredited position under supervision and subject to satisfactory supervisor/mentor reports. In general, examinations will be taken as part of the normal college program and under the normal college examination format. It would be necessary to enrol in the college training program in order to complete these requirements.

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