IMGs registering to work in Aus on the rise

3 minute read

But what barriers remain after registration?

The number of new overseas doctors registering to work in Australia has risen 50% compared to pre-covid numbers, but are these doctors actually able to practice? 

According to the new data, 4699 overseas trained doctors registered to practice in Australia in the first 10 months of the 2023-24 financial year, compared to 2991 in the entire year before the covid pandemic (2018-19). 

“Record numbers of doctors, nurses and other health professionals are moving to Australia and working in the Australian health system,” said Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler. 

“This boom in health workers is a vote of confidence in the Australian health system and proves that our reforms to strengthen Medicare are working, after a decade of Coalition cuts and neglect.” 

Half of the doctors who registered to practice in 2022-23 studied overseas, with 60% of doctors coming from countries with substantial English-speaking populations. Namely, the UK, Ireland, India and Philippines. 

Speaking to The Medical Republic, a DoHAC spokesperson said they could not provide details on how many newly registered doctors were practicing, as this was not collected by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. 

However, according to the Independent Review of Australia’s Regulatory Settings Relating to Overseas Health Practitioners (the Kruk Review) delivered last year, GPs can take 35 to 130 weeks to be ready to practice in Australia, and non-GP 26 to105 weeks, said the spokesperson. 

“Following AHPRA registration, doctors from overseas, and other internationally qualified health practitioners, may be required to undertake a mandatory period of supervised practice,” the spokesperson told TMR

“The conditions of this supervised practice period can vary by profession and according to an IQHP’s qualifications and prior experience.  

“Typically, IQHPs are granted limited registration and become eligible for full or general registration once they satisfy additional requirements, including supervision.” 

To provide Medicare-funded services, overseas trained doctors registered with AHPRA also need to apply for a Medicare provider number through Services Australia.  

“There can also be other requirements based around an individual’s area of specialisation and the individual’s registration pathway,” added the DoHAC spokesperson. 

DoHAC said it was committed to implementing the recommendations of the Kruk report, which was promised $90 million in the 2024-25 budget. 

“Implementing the 28 recommendations of the final report will streamline regulatory settings to make it simpler, quicker and cheaper for international health practitioners to work in Australia, focusing on changes that will improve the applicant experience, expand fast-track pathways, collect better workforce data, increase regulatory flexibility, and enhance regulator performance and regulatory system stewardship,” said the spokesperson. 

“The government is already working on: streamlining administrative processes for migration, registration and onboarding; identifying opportunities for expanded fast track registration pathways; and aligning English language standards with countries such as the UK and NZ.” 

The boom in health workers educated overseas also extended to nurses, midwives and other health professionals, added the Department. 

In the first 10 months of this financial year, 22,797 practitioners registered to work in Australia from overseas, over double that of that 10,547 who registered in 2018-19. 

To explore the ethics of importing doctors from countries experiencing their own doctor shortages, click here. 

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