1. Specialist Recognition Program Comparability Assessment Policy
1.1 Policy number: CO-E-0035.0
1.2 Category: Education
1.3 Approval date: May 2018
1.4 Revision due date: May 2021
1.5 Unit responsible: Education Services
2. Policy declaration
From 3 September 2018, applicants to the Specialist Recognition Program are required to undertake a Comparability Assessment prior to applying for entry into the Program to inform Program duration, and educational and assessment requirements.
This policy aims to:
- describe the assessment of applicants’ comparability to an Australian-trained specialist general practitioner at the point of Fellowship
- detail the requirements concerning the provision and disclosure of applicant information.
- This policy applies to SIMGs wishing to pursue Fellowship of the RACGP via the Specialist Recognition Program (SRP)
- This policy and associated policies will supersede the existing Specialist Pathway Program (SPP) policies as from 3 September 2018 and Comparability Assessments will be conducted from this time. Participants enrolled in the existing SPP before 31 August 2018 will continue their candidacy under the policies of the SPP.
For the purposes of this policy:
- Applicant means a medical practitioner who is applying for entry onto the Specialist Recognition Program
- Acceptance of application is the date on which the SRP application is accepted is the date that all necessary documents are received by the RACGP
- Comparable / comparability means the extent to which an SIMG’s recency, continuity of practice, continual professional development, assessment, training, qualifications and clinical experience is assessed as equivalent to an Australian-trained specialist general practitioner at the point of Fellowship
- Substantially Comparable means applicants have been assessed as suitable to undertake the intended scope of practice, taking full responsibility for all patients, with limited oversight of their practice by a supervisor (peer review)
- Partially Comparable means applicants have been assessed as suitable to undertake a defined scope of practice in a supervised capacity and reach comparability within 24 months’ full time equivalent practice.
- Not Comparable means applicants do not meet the requirements of the Specialist Recognition Program Comparability, or who are assessed as unable to reach comparability within 24 months’ full time equivalent practice.
- Comprehensive Australian general practice
- Continuity of care that is person centred, comprehensive and coordinated; focusing on the whole person, and all presenting symptoms
- Health promotion and illness prevention services that are based on patient need and the best available evidence
- The diagnosis, treatment and management of the full range of undifferentiated conditions in a diverse range of individuals, families and communities not limited by practice intention or business focus
- Community-based general practice undertaken in Australia.
- CPD means Continuing professional development
- Full time general practice experience comprises a 38-hour minimum working week, over a minimum of four days per week, of which a minimum of 27 hours must be in face-to-face, rostered, patient consultation time undertaking general practice activities. Work periods of less than three consecutive hours, or of less than one month in any one practice, will not be considered. Hours worked beyond this definition of full time will not be considered.
- Part time general practice experience is calculated pro-rata against the definition of full time general practice experience. Part time general practice must comprise a 14.5-hour minimum working week, over a minimum of two days per week, of which a minimum of 10.5 hours must be in face-to-face, rostered, patient consultation time undertaking general practice activities. Work periods of less than three consecutive hours, or of less than one month in any one practice, will not be considered.
- SIMG means Specialist International Medical Graduate
- Specialist Pathway Program (SPP) means the SPP referred to throughout this and associated policies and documentation. This is the pathway superseded by the Specialist Recognition Program on 3 September 2018, and which categorised SIMGs as Category 1, 2 or 3
- Specialist Recognition Program (SRP) means the Specialist Recognition Program referred to throughout this and associated policies and documentation. This program superseded the SPP on 3 September 2018, and which assesses SIMGs as Substantially, Partially or Not Comparable
- Supervision/supervised practice means principles of supervision and supervised practice will be based upon the prescribed Medical Board of Australia Guidelines – Supervised Practice of International Medical Graduates.
- Validated assessment instruments means theoretical and practical assessments recognised by the RACGP. For more information, see the Appendix at the end of this policy.
5. Comparability Assessment
5.1 Comparability assessment
a. The process for applying for a Comparability Assessment is detailed in RACGP's A Guide to completing the Specialist Recognition Program Comparability Assessment.
b. RACGP assessors will use the information and evidence provided by the applicant to determine the comparability of the applicant to an Australian-trained specialist general practitioner at the point of Fellowship.
c. Where the RACGP receives publicly available information about an applicant that may inform the assessment decision, the applicant will be given the opportunity to make a submission about the information.
5.2 Comparability factors
The Comparability Assessment will assess SIMGs according to the following factors:
All applicants must have completed:
- 12 months’ full time equivalent (FTE) general practice in the 36 calendar months prior to the date of the application for Comparability Assessment being accepted, as assessed under the Assessment of General Practice Experience Policy
- At least four weeks' FTE general practice in the 12 calendar months prior to the date of the application for Comparability Assessment being accepted, as assessed under the Assessment of General Practice Experience Policy.
- To be assessed as Substantially Comparable, both the 12 month and four week experience requirements must have been undertaken in a practice assessed as at least 85% comparable to comprehensive Australian general practice.
- To be assessed as Partially Comparable, both the 12 month and four week experience requirements must have been undertaken in a practice assessed as at least 75% comparable to comprehensive Australian general practice.
b. Continuity of Practice
All applicants must explain gaps in clinical practice of greater than three calendar months. Significant gaps in practice will be taken into consideration in the Comparability Assessment.
c. Continuing Professional Development
All applicants must have:
- 50 hours of documented CPD in the 12 calendar months preceding Comparability Assessment. CPD must comply with the standards as prescribed by the RACGP QI&CPD Program.
- Documented evidence of completing a practice-based self-reflective activity using validated tools in the 36 calendar months preceding Comparability Assessment.
d. Assessment type
- Substantially Comparable applicants have satisfactorily completed a highly reliable summative assessment using validated assessment instruments comprising both theoretical and practical components equivalent to those utilised within the RACGP examinations.
- Partially Comparable applicants have satisfactorily completed a summative assessment as mandated by the organisation granting their specialist qualification, but which examination is deemed not equivalent to those components utilised within the RACGP examinations.
- Applicants without any formal summative assessment are deemed Not Comparable.
e. Training route
All applicants must have a specialist general practice qualification.
- Substantially Comparable applicants have completed their specialist general practice qualification in a training program comparable to the RACGP Vocational Training Pathway. Substantially Comparable training programs include summative assessments, formal education programs, and at least 12 months' supervised in-practice training in a safe and supportive clinical environment.
- Partially Comparable applicants have obtained their specialist general practice qualification via an experience-based pathway, largely comprising supervised clinical work, which may or may not have included formative assessments or formal educational programs, in predominantly less than 75% comparable work experience, or via a training program significantly different to the RACGP Vocational Training Pathway.
- Applicants who received their qualification via grandfathering, reciprocal arrangements or other honorary routes are deemed Not Comparable.
- Substantially Comparable curricula are those whose coverage of the RACGP Curriculum is sufficient for the applicant to practice safely unsupervised in Australian general practice, with only limited mentorship and peer review.
- Partially Comparable curricula have gaps, compared to the RACGP curriculum, which can be rectified in up to 24 months’ FTE work in Australian general practice, and the coverage of which must be assessed by formal examination.
- Curricula assessed as having gaps which cannot be rectified within 24 months’ FTE work in Australian general practice are deemed Not Comparable.
g. Additional formalised training
- Applicants who have qualified under a Partially Comparable curriculum have the opportunity to show that they have addressed the gaps in that curriculum with subsequent study, CPD, clinical exposure or other relevant experience.
- If the sum of the Partially Comparable applicant’s experience since obtaining their qualification sufficiently covers the identified gaps the applicant may be deemed Substantially Comparable.
5.3 Assessment outcome
- Applicants must provide current, full and verifiable information in their application with sufficient detail to assess comparability.
- The RACGP will take reasonable steps to verify the information provided; additional information or documentation may be requested to substantiate the assessment.
- Submission of plagiarised, false or misleading information will be handled as per the Educational Misconduct Policy.
- If the applicant believes the outcome has not fully considered any aspect of their application, they may submit additional evidence for consideration within ten national office business days of receiving the original outcome.
- If the applicant wishes to repeat the comparability assessment they may do so, and may take the opportunity to complete further CPD or additional education, improve their recency of practice, or gain additional experience in general practice before submitting a new assessment.
- Components of the assessment outcome may also be used to inform the SIMG’s eligibility for other RACGP Fellowship pathways.
- Comparability Assessment outcomes are valid for six calendar months from the date of the outcome.
6. Related policies, documents and legislation
All policies and guidance documents related to the Specialist Recognition Program are available on our policy page.
7. Administrative procedures
7.1 Access to published policy
This policy will be available via the RACGP website
7.2 Promulgation of published policy
Relevant staff members, internal and external stakeholders including international medical colleges, existing SRP and SPP participants, and prospective Specialist Recognition Pathway applicants will be provided communications explaining the function and role of this policy.
7.3 Review of this policy
This policy will have a review cycle of three years.