Re-entry to general practice

Returning to work

There are many GPs who take time away from practice for various reasons. This might be a planned absence (extended holiday, study leave, to pursue an alternative career) or unplanned absence (illness, disability, suspension/deregistration by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency). 

GPs who want to return to work must address the regulatory requirements of the Medical Board of Australia (the Medical Board). These requirements rest on the following standards:

  • continuing professional development
  • recency of practice
  • professional indemnity
  • fitness to practise.

For more detailed information, refer to:


Vocational Register and Fellows List requirements

GPs who are intending to leave general practice for more than three months should be aware of their obligations with respect to Medicare (Vocational Register) and the RACGP (Fellows list). Similarly, if they intend returning to general practice at some point in time, they should also familiarise themselves with the Medical Board regulations


Preparing to re-enter general practice

For general practice registrars returning to training after a period of absence from the training program, the Medical Board’s regulations apply. The process is not exactly the same because they will be returning to supervised practice and the individual training organization will provide support. Refer to GPs working towards attaining Fellowship.

Vocational Register and Fellows List requirements

If a GP wishes for their name to remain on Medicare Australia’s list of Recognised GPs (Vocational Register/Fellows List), the following conditions apply.

  • All GPs need to meet the minimum Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Program requirements regardless of how little or how often they practise as a GP.
  • Medicare Australia holds and maintains the list of Recognised GPs and informs the RACGP of any changes. Medicare Australia is the only organisation authorised to change the status of a Recognised GP.
  • All Recognised GPs with access to Medicare programs and services are required to pay the annual RACGP fee. GPs who do not pay will be regarded as not completing the CPD Program requirements, and the GP will be reported and removed from accessing the Medicare programs and services.

GPs planning to leave general practice need to temporarily remove their name from the Vocational Register. The following conditions apply:

  • Removal of a GP’s name from the list of Recognised GPs does not prevent the GP from practising medicine or continuing to be a GP. Please contact Medicare Australia for further information.
  • GPs remain eligible for reinstatement to the list of Recognised GPs, no matter the duration for which they have been removed and/or the duration out of general practice, so long as they hold current medical registration, are returning predominantly to general practice and have no outstanding CPD Program requirements, including fees and points. (The ‘predominantly in general practice’ rule only applies to GPs who are included on the Vocational Register with Medicare Australia.)
  • Satisfactory completion of CPD Program requirements up to the time that the name was removed from Medicare Australia’s list of Recognised GPs is a prerequisite to being reinstated on the list.

Forms to remove or reinstate GP names are available from the National CPD Program team. Please allow at least three weeks, prior to returning to work, to complete the administrative process.

GPs who access any Medicare program or service, and are absent from general practice for more than three consecutive months in the triennium, may apply for special consideration. The National CPD office should be contacted in advance for advice.
Please contact the National CPD team regarding access to Medicare programs and services (Vocational Register, Fellows List, Medicare Plus) using the contact details below.

Enquiries: 1800 472 247 or 

Preparing to re-enter general practice

Re-entry requirements

GPs are encouraged to commence planning as early as possible, ideally from the moment when a leave of absence from practice is being planned, but certainly when there is serious intent to re-enter. They should become familiar with the Medical Board of Australia’s regulations and how these regulations apply to their context because some processes can take time, particularly when the absence has been for more than 36 months. 

It is each individual GP’s responsibility to ensure their safety to practise as well as their personal wellbeing. A well-considered plan for re-entry will be guided by these two principles and will ensure a smoother transition into practice.

The RACGP may provide the following assistance to a GP who is planning to take leave of absence from practice or to re-enter practice:

  • guidance on the process to follow when contemplating a planned absence and re-entry
  • advice with respect to CPD requirements at the time of re-entry
  • assistance in the development of a learning plan for re-entry
  • advice with respect to suitable educational activities
  • assistance with finding a suitable mentor and/or supervisor
  • support for the nominated mentor and/or supervisor. 

Depending on the period of absence, GPs are advised to take note of the following:
Refer to: