IMG changes to wrest power from medical colleges

4 minute read

Stakeholders have just one month to make their voices heard on the proposed ‘fast track’ pathway. The RACGP calls it ‘an anti-medical movement’.

The medical board is now taking submissions on a controversial new registration system for international medical graduates, which the RACGP fears will threaten the influence of medical colleges.  

Announced in April, the fast-track registration pathway will “sit alongside the existing specialist medical college assessment system” and allow graduates with select overseas qualifications to go straight to the board for specialist registration.  

“[Registration via the expedited pathway] will be available to applicants who have been deemed to hold a qualification which is substantially equivalent or based on similar competencies to an approved specialist qualification for the specialty,” the consultation paper read.  

“The board, with input from the Australian Medical Council and specialist medical colleges, will develop and publish a list of qualifications that it considers are substantially equivalent or based on similar competencies to an approved specialist qualification for the specialty.  

“The expedited pathway will not require a college assessment of the individual.” 

It was first recommended as part of the Kruk review in December 2023 and is described as a “key plank” in implementing the other recommendations from that report.  

To fit with “reform deadlines” set by health ministers, the medical board has “compressed” the consultation period down to one month. 

The feedback window opened on Monday 3 June, meaning there are just 29 days left on the clock for medical colleges and other stakeholders to make their submissions.  

If the reformers get their way, the fast-track pathway will be opened to overseas-trained GPs in October and to anaesthetists, psychiatrists, obstetricians and gynaecologists in December. 

AMA president Professor Steve Robson told The Medical Republic that he was shocked by the tight timeline for such a major change.  

“The colleges must remain the setters of standards for medical practice in Australia, and any attempt by the government to sideline the colleges will be resisted strongly,” he said.  

“And I think the timeline of one month [for the consultation] put on by health ministers is outrageous, considering just how important these things are.” 

The medical board did not deny that the proposed changes will likely diminish the power of specialist colleges.  

“The proposed changes to the registration standard would provide alternative qualification options for medical specialists outside of fellowship which are already available under the National Law, introduce an expedited registration pathway and remove some current barriers to registration,” the board said.  

“The changes are therefore not expected to restrict the current levels of competition among health practitioners and may increase competition.” 

RACGP president Dr Nicole Higgins told The Medical Republic that the plan risked fragmenting the medical workforce.  

“It’s the medical colleges who provide collegial support, education and training,” she said.  

“Our concern is that it may create a two-tiered system, especially in general practice, where we would have RACGP fellows and then specialist GPs under that.” 


Updated: Fast track for overseas-trained specialists

IMG GPs face longer waits, higher costs

IMGs may win an easier path to permanency

In a broader sense, Dr Higgins said, the move to cut medical colleges out of overseas-trained doctor registrations was another piece of a particularly sinister puzzle.  

The introduction of CPD homes, for instance, was a similar event in that it effectively cut up the medical college monopoly on CPD recording and reduced their power in the space. 

“My concern is that there is an anti-medical movement within the bureaucracy which is seeking to break the medical colleges,” Dr Higgins said. 

“That is not what’s best for the medical profession in Australia.”  

Dr Higgins was also concerned about the conflict of interest created by the new pathway. 

If the government is spending a significant amount of money to bring overseas-trained doctors into communities, she said, then it has an incentive to sign off on those doctors even if they aren’t up to scratch.  

Colleges, on the other hand, theoretically have more to gain from being rigorous; every exam that a candidate sits is money for the college. 

End of content

No more pages to load

Log In Register ×