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Practice Experience Program – Standard Stream Leave and Extensions


Policy

1. Purpose

1.1 The purpose of this policy is to describe the circumstances under which leave from and extension of the Practice Experience Program - Standard Stream (PEP Standard) are considered or required.

2. Scope

3. General principles

3.1 Participants in the PEP Standard are entitled to apply for:

  1. Leave for legislative purposes, or in the event of extenuating and unforeseen circumstances;
  2. Leave for personal purposes;
  3. A clinical break for continuation of educational program components without clinical work;
  4. Extension to the PEP program for completion of program requirements.

3.2 Participants may apply for leave or clinical breaks at any time during participation in the PEP Standard. Applications must be made prior to the leave or break commencing via the Change in Circumstances form on the PEP portal.

3.3 Applications for extension to the program time can only be made within three months of a participant’s projected education program completion date.

3.4 Approval of any leave, clinical break or extension is at the RACGP’s absolute discretion.

3.5 Refunds on PEP term fees are not available for leave which is taken during an active term.

3.6 Participants who cannot resume participation in the PEP or do not satisfy the program’s clinical work requirements at the end of their approved or enforced leave, clinical break or extension, must inform the RACGP in writing within four weeks of the projected leave end date.

4. Leave

4.1 Leave principles

  1. Participants must not undertake paid work using their PEP provider number while on leave. Failure to abide by this clause will be handled as per the Academic Misconduct Policy, the Services Australia (Medicare) and/or the Medical Board of Australia (MBA).
  2. Program components undertaken during periods of approved leave will not count towards program requirements unless specific approval is given.
  3. If the length of leave may affect a participant’s ability to reach the standards of competency required to complete the PEP Standard as per their individual program agreement, the RACGP may require the participant to undertake a return to work assessment.
  4. If a participant’s employment circumstances change during any period of leave, the participant must submit new employment details to the RACGP for assessment, as this may impact the participant’s eligibility for the program and provider number. To notify the RACGP, participants must submit a Change in Circumstances form. This form can be accessed via the PEP Portal. For queries contact PEPApprovedPlacement@racgp.org.au
  5. The status of a participant’s provider number during periods of leave depends on the duration of the leave:
    1. Leave of less than six months: the participant’s provider number will remain active, but participants must not undertake paid work using their PEP provider number. The RACGP audits adherence to this clause ; contravention is a violation of legislation and will be handled as per clause 4.1.i
    2. Leave between six and 12 months: the participant’s provider number will be suspended. At least four weeks prior to returning to the program, participants must confirm ongoing employment in their pre-leave practice to remain eligible for the provider number by submitting a Change in Circumstances form to the RACGP. This form can be access via the PEP portal. If a participant is returning to a new practice after leave, they must resubmit employment circumstances for eligibility assessment which may take up to 12 weeks. Participants must submit the eligibility assessment by completing a Change in Circumstances form. This form can be access via the PEP Portal. If the new practice does not meet the PEP Standard eligibility and provider number requirements the participant may be withdrawn from the program.
    3. Leave 12 months or more: the participant’s provider number will be withdrawn. The participant must reapply for a PEP provider number at least four months prior to returning to the program. This applies where the leave taken is cumulatively shorter periods of leave taken consecutively, or where one period of leave of more than 12 months is requested.

4.2 Legislative or extenuating and unforeseen circumstances leave

  1. Participants may apply for leave of equal duration to that permitted by their place of work, to a maximum of 24 months. If at the end of this 24-month period the participant is unable to return to the Program, they may be withdrawn. For more information see the Practice Experience Program - Standard Stream Withdrawal Policy.
  2. When submitting a request for leave under extenuating and unforeseen circumstances, participants must adhere to the evidence requirements of the Practice Experience Program - Extenuating and Unforeseen Circumstances Guidance Document.
  3. Leave granted under this clause is not counted as part of the participant's maximum program timeframe.

4.3 Personal Leave

  1. Participants are entitled to take personal leave from the program while they are taking personal leave from their clinical positions, to a maximum of three months over the course of the program, in addition to four weeks’ annual leave.
  2. Participants are not required to inform the RACGP where personal leave of less than five weeks is taken cumulatively over any 12-month period. Participants must apply to the RACGP if they are requesting leave durations of between five weeks and three months. Leave will not be granted where total personal leave exceeds three months.
  3. Leave under this clause is counted towards the participant’s maximum program timeframe.

4.4 Enforced Leave

  1. Enforced leave of up to three months may be imposed if a participant reaches the end of a three month clinical break due to job loss or interruption, or provider number issues and is unable to resume active participation in the PEP Standard.
  2. Enforced leave of up to six months may be imposed if a participant loses their medical registration.
  3. If at the end of the enforced leave the participant is unable to resume program participation, they will be withdrawn from the program in line with the Practice Experience Program – Standard Stream Withdrawal Policy.
  4. Leave granted under this clause is not counted as part of the participant's maximum program timeframe.

5. Clinical break

5.1 Participants may apply for one clinical break of up to three months within their time in the education program, if:

  1. They wish to return to the program from leave with educational components only, in which case their provider number remains suspended under the terms of their leave;
  2. Job loss or interruption prevents them from working clinically, in which case their provider number is suspended;
  3. Issues related to access to a PEP provider number prevent them from working clinically.

5.2 The clinical break is counted as part of the participant's maximum program timeframe.

5.3 Following a clinical break:

  1. A participant who has been on personal or legislative leave prior to the clinical break may apply for further leave under clause 4;
  2. A participant who has undertaken the clinical break due to job loss or interruption or provider number issues may be placed on enforced leave if the issues have not been resolved.

6. Extension

6.1 On application, participants may be granted extension of up to three months to their program and provider number (if required) to complete program requirements.

6.2 Participants who have had an approved period of legislative leave during their program may be approved for additional extension equivalent to the duration of the approved leave.

6.3 Participants who have had an approved period of extenuating and unforeseen circumstances leave during their program may be approved for additional extension equivalent to the duration of the approved leave.

6.4 Applications for extension may only be made within the three months prior to the participant’s allocated program completion date.

6.5 The approval of an extension is at the RACGP’s absolute discretion.

6.6 Fees may apply for any approved period of extension.

7. RACGP membership

7.1 Participants may suspend RACGP membership during approved leave of three months or greater, on provision of appropriate supporting evidence. For more information, refer to the GP in Training Membership Guidance Document.

8. Amendment of this Policy

8.1 The Censor-In-Chief may, without the consent of the Board, make Minor, Moderate and Extenuating Amendments to this policy at any time. If the CIC makes amendments, they must advise the Board of those amendments as soon as practicable.

8.2 The Board may make amendments to this policy at any time.

9. Responsibilities

9.1 RACGP Board

Responsible for approval of policy and Major Amendments.

9.2 Censor-in-Chief

Responsible for approval of Moderate, Minor and Extenuating Amendments to the policy by delegation of the RACGP Board.

9.3 Participants

Responsible for:

  1. Applying for leave and extensions,
  2. Providing all requested supporting documentation for their application,
  3. Not undertaking paid work on their PEP Provider Number during a period of approved leave,
  4. Requesting suspension of membership during an approved period of leave, and
  5. Ensuring any requested leave or extension do not extend completion of training program requirements beyond 30 June 2023.

9.4 RACGP

Responsible for:

  1. The assessment of leave and extensions applications, and
  2. Auditing participants on leave to ensure no work is undertaken on their PEP Provider Number.

10. Glossaries

10.1 Minor Amendment

An amendment to style, to correct grammatical mistakes, to change overall formatting, to make updates which do not materially change meaning, or any other amendment, which in the opinion of the owner of the policy, does not materially alter the operation of the policy. 

10.2 Active term

Any term in which PEP activities are undertaken (for example, modules or the WBA) and/or the provider number issued under PEP is used.

10.3 Approved leave

A period of leave in excess of five weeks per 12-month period, or two PEP 6 month terms, whichever point in a year the participant commences, approved by the RACGP under this policy.

10.4 Clinical break

A period of up to three months during which the participant may continue educational program components while not working clinically.

10.5 Enforced leave

This leave will be applied to a maximum of six months if a participant is unable to participate in the program due to cessation of medical registration or for up to three months if a participant does not find suitable employment following a clinical break.

10.6 Extension term

A three month period which can, on application, be added to the end of a participant’s program for the purposes of completion of program requirements.

10.7 Extenuating and unforeseen circumstances

Circumstances that are considered on a case by case basis, but must relate to circumstances which were unforeseen, outside the participant’s control and which can be shown to have a direct and significant impact on the participant’s ability to complete the PEP requirements, including:

  1. ill-health (other than minor illnesses) with valid certificates;
  2. carer’s leave with valid certificates;
  3. bereavement;
  4. acute adverse life circumstances;
  5. hospitalisation;
  6. Australian Defence Force deployment leave;
  7. Loss of employment, medical registration or provider number; or
  8.  Other circumstances involving significant changes to a participant’s circumstances.

For more information regarding leave for extenuating and unforeseen circumstances leave, please see the Practice Experience Program - Extenuating and Unforeseen Circumstances Guidance Document.

10.8 Full time general practice experience

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.

10.9 Legislative leave

This leave includes both:

  1. Parental, sick and carers leave granted pursuant to the participant’s workplace entitlements under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), and any other form of leave as permitted under the National Employment Standards.
  2. Leave taken which meets the definition above where the participant is a contractor or otherwise not covered by the NES.

10.10 Maximum program timeframe

The timeframe for program completion outlined in the participant’s program agreement (i.e. 6, 12 or 18 months).

10.11 Part time general practice experience

General practice experience 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.

10.12 Participant

A medical practitioner enrolled in the PEP Standard.

10.13 Personal leave

Any leave requested for purposes other than those described in Clauses 4.2 and 4.4 above.

11. Related Documents, Legislation and Policies

Compliance

Guidance

11. Policy Review and Currency

This policy will be reviewed every three years from the last approval date, or when there is a significant change in the intent of the policy. This policy remains valid and applicable notwithstanding if it is overdue for review.

Version History

Version

Date of effect

Amended by

2

04/01/2022

Policy Officer, Education Policy and Guidance

Amendment details

  • Update to responsibilites section.
  • Nomenclature review.

Policy owner:

Board

Approved by:

Censor-in-Chief

Approved on:

14/12/2021

Next Review Due:

11/24

   

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