1. Specialist Recognition Program Leave and Extensions Policy
1.1 Policy number: CO-E-0040.0
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
In extenuating and unforeseen circumstances or if granted legislative leave by their employer, participants may apply for leave from the Specialist Recognition Program. Participants may also apply for an extension to the maximum allowable timeframes to complete the requirements of the Specialist Recognition Program.
If the stipulations of this policy conflict with relevant laws, the laws prevail.
3. Objectives and scope
This policy aims to explain the circumstances in which leave and extensions from the RACGP Specialist Recognition Program will be granted, and the conditions of each.
- This policy applies to specialist international medical graduates (SIMGs) pursuing Fellowship of the RACGP via the Specialist Recognition Program (SRP) and who wish to pursue either leave from or extension to the Program.
- 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 policies in existence at the time of their enrolment in the SPP.
For the purposes of this policy:
- Approved leave means a period of leave approved by the RACGP pursuant to this policy.
- 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 assessed as suitable to undertake a defined scope of practice in a supervised capacity and reach comparability within 24 months’ full time equivalent of practice.
- Extenuating and unforeseen circumstances 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 Specialist Recognition Program requirements.
- 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.
- Legislative leave includes parental, sick and carers leave granted pursuant to the participant’s workplace entitlements under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
- Maximum Program Completion timeframe is the maximum timeframe for completion of the pathway requirements is a total of 24 months.
- 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.
- Participant is a medical practitioner, assessed as Partially Comparable, who is enrolled in the Specialist Recognition Program.
- 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.
- Substantially Comparable participants 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).
- 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.
5. General principles
5.1 Total periods of leave and extension
- The maximum aggregate leave duration participants may be granted is 12 calendar months;
- Participants may not be on leave from the Program for 12 consecutive months; and
- The maximum program extension (in addition to total aggregate leave time) that may be granted is six calendar months, as per clause 5.5.
5.2 Legislative leave and leave for extenuating and unforeseen circumstances
- Participants who are granted legislative leave by their employer or experience extenuating and unforeseen circumstances may apply for leave from the SRP. The leave application process is detailed in RACGP’s A Guide to Applying for Leave and Extension from the Specialist Recognition Program.
- Applications for leave may be made at any time during participation in the SRP.
- Subject to clause 5.1, participants may apply for leave for durations of between one and 12 calendar months from the SRP. Leave will not be granted for periods of less than one calendar month, nor where the total aggregate leave duration exceeds the clause 5.1 maximums.
- Leave granted for extenuating and unforeseen circumstances is not counted as part of the maximum timeframe during which the participant must complete the pathway requirements.
- Leave for extenuating and unforeseen circumstances will only be granted when a participant has demonstrated satisfactory progression in the SRP at the date of application for leave.
5.3 Leave outcomes
- Any leave approval is at the RACGP’s discretion.
- Any program components undertaken during periods of approved leave will not count towards program requirements. Eligibility to sit exams will be suspended during periods of leave.
- Participants may only apply to extend their period of leave prior to the end of the approved leave.
- Participants who are unable to resume participation in the SRP, or unable to satisfy the pathway employment requirements, at the end of their approved leave will be terminated from the Program.
5.4 Returning from leave
- Participants may apply for early return from approved leave if:
- they return from legislative leave earlier than planned; or
- the extenuating and unforeseen circumstances resolve.
- Any early return from approved leave is at the RACGP’s discretion.
5.5 Program extensions
- On application, participants may be granted one extension of six calendar months to complete the SRP. The decision to grant an extension is the RACGP’s determination.
- The extension application process is detailed in RACGP’s A Guide to Applying for Leave and Extension from the Specialist Recognition Program.
- If a participant granted an extension has not met the SRP requirements at the conclusion of the extension period, they will be terminated from the Program.
5.6 RACGP membership
Participants may suspend RACGP membership during approved leave of three months or greater, on provision of appropriate supporting evidence. During RACGP membership suspension, access to all RACGP member benefits will be suspended.
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.