Policy update notice: Recognition of Prior Learning policy – 4 September 2017

04 September 2017

Notice of RACGP policy update

This notice is to advise that the RACGP has updated the Recognition of Prior Learning Policy.

What has changed?

1. Registrars must have completed either a minimum of twelve months of hospital post General Registration OR a minimum of two years in total of Australian or New Zealand accredited hospitals by the start of GPT1 in order to be eligible to apply for RPL. This time can include hospital work done prior to entry to AGPT and hospital terms done as a registrar on the AGPT program.

2. RPL without time credit will no longer be granted.

3. Registrars who are assessed as not having achieved appropriate credit towards completion of the hospital year must complete this Fellowship requirement through completion of further hospital experience or community based posts, as determined by the RACGP Censor. Up to 3 months of the hospital year can be done in general practice posts, at the discretion of the RACGP Censor.

4. Registrars who can demonstrate diverse clinical experience in a range of Emergency Medicine settings may be eligible to apply for more than 26 weeks of Emergency Medicine, to a maximum of 26 weeks FTE in any of the four Emergency Medicine subgroups (as per the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine (ACEM) classification):

  1. Level 1 – Rural Emergency Services
  2. Level 2 – Major Regional/Rural Base Emergency Department
  3. Level 3 – Urban District Emergency Department
  4. Level 4 – Major Referral Emergency Department

5. RPL applications must be submitted to the RACGP by the end of GPT1.

6. Once submitted, RPL may not be amended, augmented or revoked.

These changes will come into effect on 1st January 2018, for the 2018 AGPT intake. They will not apply to candidates currently on the AGPT Program.

Why have these changes been made?

The RACGP is moving towards the development of a competency-based RPL system, whereby applicants will be required to meet competency rather than time requirements in order to obtain RPL. The changes to the policy reflect this underlying principle during the transition towards a full competency-based process, and streamline a complex process for RTOs, Registrars and the College.

  1. The first change has been made to allow registrars with extensive hospital experience gained prior to obtaining general registration in Australian and New Zealand hospitals to apply for RPL for this time. This will allow IMGs in particular to have previous hospital time recognised.
  2. The option to obtain RPL without time credit has caused significant confusion for Registrars, and the removal of this option simplifies the process. In the past, RPL without time credit was sometimes used when RPL terms did not fully meet the threshold for RPL with time credit under the RPL policy, and when returning to the hospital environment was not deemed appropriate. In keeping with the RACGP’s move to a competency-based RPL system, terms are now either determined suitable or not suitable for RPL, regardless of whether they were done before or after general registration. In addition, by allowing community based hospital term options, including up to 3 months in general practice, the need for a RPL without time credit option no longer exists.
  3. The change in recognition of experience in Emergency medicine recognises that this is a broad based speciality providing strong foundations for general practice, and that there may be circumstances in which more than 26 weeks of Emergency Medicine experience may be eligible for RPL. For more information, see the ACEM Statement of Delineation of Emergency Departments. For examples of hospitals from each subgroup, see ACEM Accredited Emergency Departments.
  4. From 1 January 2017, the RACGP has required RPL applications to be submitted within six months of the registrar’s training start date. Under the new eligibility criteria, this deadline has the potential to disadvantage those who start their training in non-GP terms and do not have the prerequisite hospital experience at the end of their first six months of training. Amending this deadline to the end of GPT1 gives registrars time to complete sufficient hospital experience for RPL eligibility, and to complete their applications with RTO assistance during their GPT1 term.
  5. RPL is given for experience obtained prior to commencing the AGPT Program. All eligible experience should be provided at the time of submitting the application; it is the responsibility of the registrar to submit all relevant details and evidence of experience at that time.

Where can I view the documents? 

The updated policy can be accessed via the Fellowship Pathways Policy Framework.

What if I have questions?

A series of FAQs have been developed to provide additional clarity around the policy changes and related to RPL in general. These can be found below.

If you have any enquiries relating to the updated policy, please contact Rebecca Mackinnon, Policy Coordinator, on 03 8699 0511.  


No. If you are a 2017 intake registrar or earlier, the RPL deadline was 30 June 2017. These changes apply only to registrars entering the AGPT Program in 2018 and from this date onwards.

No. If you have been assessed as GP term ready by your RTO and started in GP terms, additional hospital terms (which can include community posts and up to 3 months of general practice) can be done at any stage of training.

No. To be eligible to be assessed for any RPL registrars must have completed either a minimum of twelve months of hospital post General Registration OR a minimum of two years in total of Australian or New Zealand accredited hospitals by the start of GPT1. These time periods are full time (part time work is calculated pro rata). The maximum amount of leave allowed in any hospital year is 7 weeks (all types of leave, including sick leave and study leave). Detailed leave statements may be requested for verification purposes.

Yes, but be aware that the overall maximum RPL awarded is 12 months.  If RPL is awarded for a 6 months ES term, a maximum of 6 months of RPL can be given for hospital terms. This would mean a minimum of 6 months of hospital terms must be completed during training.

The College Censors look at the range of terms completed, the recency of the experience and the quality of evidence provided. The hospital experience needs to provide the Registrar with adequate exposure to the disciplines of medicine, surgery, emergency medicine, paediatrics, and other rotations appropriate to the discipline of general practice, sufficient to demonstrate an understanding of safe practice in these areas prior to commencing GPT1. For further guidance as to whether your experience achieves the required breadth, please discuss with your RTO training advisor.  It may also be helpful to refer to the Vocational Training Pathway – Requirements for Fellowship Policy.

No. On average, it will decrease training time by removing RPL without time credit, and will allow more people to obtain RPL by allowing those with pre-general registration hospital experience to apply.

No. Once your application is submitted, it cannot be amended, augmented or revoked – information submitted to the RACGP will be final, so make sure that you have included everything that you want to be assessed, presented in its best possible form.

While the intern year can be used towards RPL eligibility to apply for RPL, the terms done as an intern, in your first postgraduate year (PGY1), are not able to be used for RPL as the level of clinical responsibility in intern terms is insufficient to be recognised for RPL.

For RPL to be awarded, evidence of satisfactory performance, not just completion, needs to be provided. While term assessments are the preferred way to demonstrate this, when these are unavailable, there are other options as outlined in theApplying for Recognition of Prior Learning Guidance Document.

Statements of Service, in isolation, are not sufficient. The onus is on the registrar to prove performance has been satisfactory and more than one evidence source may be required if term assessments are not available.

Applications need to be submitted to the RACGP by the end of your time in GPT1, but you should leave enough time prior to this deadline for your RTO to assess and approve your RPL application prior to RACGP submission. Your RTO may have its own internal deadlines to facilitate this.

This means that if you are assessed as GP ready, and begin GPT1 (full time) at the beginning of term 1 2018, your application must be received by the RACGP by at the end of term 1 2018. If you are required to begin your training with hospital time, and commence in GPT1 (full time) after 6 months of (full time) hospital time, your application must be received by the RACGP at the end of term 2 2018. Please note that the submission deadline is based on the dates of your individual GPT1 term, which will not necessarily align with other registrars. Part time registrars will have more time to submit their applications as they will spend more calendar months in GPT1. 

RPL applications are submitted via RTOs; no direct submissions from registrars are accepted. Contact your RTO for more information on how to apply.

No. RPL will not be granted for experiences more than ten years prior to the receipt of the application by the RACGP. However, this experience may contribute to the determination of your breadth of experience so if you feel it demonstrates diversity you may include it in your application.

Non-ACEM accredited emergency medicine terms can be used for RPL if the position provided appropriate clinical experience, supervision and teaching.  Your RTO will help you determine the classification based on the Standards outlined in the ACEM Statement of Delineation of Emergency Departments document.

The hospital time (being two years) must be met by doing hospital rotations and cannot be substituted by GP time unless the up to three months is a rotation sanctioned by the hospital and undertaken whilst employed as an RMO – i.e. as per a PGPPP model.


If the registrar submits an RPL application which is deemed insufficient, the registrar must undertake hospital and community posts to make up the shortfall.  The making up of the shortfall can include up to three months in general practice; however, this is at the discretion of the Censor and relies upon the registrar being deemed as having sufficient breadth and recency of hospital experience. The undertaking of a general practice term would only be available however if the registrar had not previously undertaken a general practice rotation, i.e. three months is the maximum that can potentially be substituted for hospital experience.



The registrar is responsible for providing information pertaining to their RPL application that allows the censor to make a clear judgment that the candidate has gained useful experience from the post and that the term was completed successfully.  Inadequate, incomplete or unverifiable documentation submitted is likely to lead to delays in the assessment and/or possible rejection. The onus to collate and prepare the documentation rests with the applicant in consultation with their RTO.

Competency assessment is based on the level of the individual and not the post undertaken. The applicant should engage with the process in good faith and submit only those terms they assess have genuinely helped prepare them for undertaking a career in general practice.


Policy Coordinator