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Policy update notice: GPE Pathway Exam Eligibility policy – 31 March 2021

31 March 2021

Notice of RACGP policy update

This notice is to advise that the RACGP has updated the General Practice Experience Pathway – Exam Eligibility Policy. The new policy comes into immediate effect as of today, 31 March 2021.


As per established policy, from 1 January 2022 all medical practitioners who wish to enrol in the Fellowship examinations must have undertaken an RACGP-approved program and met all exam eligibility requirements of the respective pathway before being eligible to sit the examinations. For GPE pathway candidates, this means satisfactorily completing the PEP – Standard Stream prior to enrolling in any exams held after 1 January 2022.

Following feedback from internal and external stakeholders, the RACGP considered that there were two unique cohort of doctors who may be disadvantaged by the enforcement of this policy. The GPE Pathway – Exam Eligibility Policy has accordingly been updated to provide additional support to these doctors. 

Current GPE pathway candidates who have lost exam eligibility after commencing their exam candidacy

Current policy states that to be eligible to enrol in the Fellowship examinations, GPE pathway candidates must have a valid GPE assessment outcome, assessed as per the Assessment of General Practice Experience Policy (see clause 5.1.a for further details). GPE assessment outcomes are valid for four years, and candidates are encouraged to submit top-up applications before their confirmed GPE outcome expires. Any new GPE application will be assessed according to the policy in place at the time of the new application. This means that changes to the assessment of a general practice post may apply from the new assessment start date.

A change in policy since the last time a candidate submitted a GPE application may result in lost exam eligibility (eg. due to the application of policy implemented in 2018 whereby clinic-based after-hours general practice posts will be assessed as 75% comparable to comprehensive Australian general practice). Whilst the RACGP considers that a candidate who does not meet the exam eligibility requirements should not be allowed to sit the Fellowship exams regardless of previously held eligibility status, it is also recognised that affected candidates will lose their remaining opportunities to sit and pass all Fellowship exams prior to the enforcement of policy that they satisfactorily complete the PEP prior to re-attempting any further exams from 1 January 2022.

For such affected candidates, the RACGP will grant an extraordinary exemption which will allow them to continue sitting the exams in 2021. A candidate must satisfy all of the following criteria to be eligible for the extraordinary exemption:

  1. They have commenced their exam candidacy and attempted the Fellowship examinations during or after 2019.1;
  2. They only lost exam eligibility due to having submitted a new GPE application resulting in an outcome that does not meet the exam eligibility requirements; and
  3. Unless granted this extraordinary exemption, they will lose their remaining opportunities to sit and pass all Fellowship examinations prior to the enforcement of policy that they must satisfactorily complete the PEP before enrolling in any exams held after 1 January 2022.

If a candidate granted an extraordinary exemption does not pass all Fellowship examinations prior to 1 January 2022, they will then be required to enter and satisfactorily complete the PEP before enrolling in any further exams.

Vocationally registered GPs who wish to attain FRACGP*

Vocationally registered GPs who wish to attain Fellowship are encouraged to enter via the GPE Pathway. Unless a vocationally registered GP passes all Fellowship examinations before 1 January 2022, there will be no option for them to attain FRACGP. They are ineligible for the PEP because as a vocationally registered specialist GP, they are unable to access funding via the Non-Vocationally Registered Fellowship Support Program (Non-VR FSP) through which the PEP is run.

The RACGP therefore will not require that vocationally registered GPs satisfactorily complete the PEP (a program for which they are ineligible in any case). To enrol in the Fellowship exams, such candidates must still meet all other requirements outlined in the GPE Pathway – Exam Eligibility Policy. It is considered that their specialist recognition exempts them from further education designed for prevocational doctors.

* ’Vocationally registered general practitioner’ has the same meaning as that given in section 3F of the Health Insurance Act 1973 (Cth).

When do the changes take place?

The changes to policy take place immediately.

Where can I view the documents? 

The new policy can be accessed here.

All policies can be accessed via the Fellowship Pathways Policy Framework.

What if I have questions?

If you have any enquiries relating to the updated policy, please contact educationpolicy@racgp.org.au.