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RACGP Submission to Health Workforce Australia: Consultation on International Medical Graduate Orientation and Supervision

2 August 2013

In 2011-12, there were, 29,011 GPs in Australia. Of those 10,857 were IMG, with 63% working in major cities and 37% in rural or remote areas – the later representing 42% of the total rural GP workforce. During this period, IMGs provided almost 59 million GP services to Australian residents. Of these 18 million were provided in rural and remote communities. This equates to 46% of total GP services provided across Australia and 51% of services provided in rural and remote parts of Australia.

Hence, IMGs play a critical role in the provision of primary healthcare to Australian communities, particularly in rural and remote areas where medical workforce shortages have been most severe.

In doing so, IMGs face significant personal, professional and cultural barriers, in addition to the challenges of rural general practice. This places significant strain on IMGs, their families, supervisors, employing practices and support agencies.

Hence the RACGP welcomes HWA’s consultation on the issue of IMG orientation and supervision. Overall, the current range of IMG orientation, supervision, ongoing professional development and community support initiatives are fragmentary and highly variable in their quality, accessibility and ability to help IMGs transition to Australian medical practice and a long-term future in this country.

To improve the current situation the Federal Government should ensure that all IMG have:

  • access to a comprehensive and nationally consistent orientation program
  • supervision that is equivalent to that for Australian vocational trainees
  • support to prepare for College Fellowship
  • support to participate in continuing professional development activities
  • support to remain in rural and remote communities after they have met their 10 year moratorium
  • obligations.

As part of this support package, the Federal Government should support IMGs, working in general practice for a period of supervised practice with limited registration, by:

  • funding the development and delivery of GP specific content by the RACGP
  • directly off-setting the cost of high quality general practice IMG supervision
  • subsidising the cost of RACGP Fellowship exam preparation courses
  • providing grants to help IMGs access a range of GP professional development activities
  • funding ongoing IMG peer mentoring programs.