It has been a while since I’ve wrote. COVID has really changed the game for everyone.
For some reason or another, most IMGs coming to Australia end up going down the GP pathway.
I do not know why most IMGs chose this pathway. Perhaps its the life-work balance we yearn for that is missing in Malaysia. The earning ability as a GP is undoubtably more in Australia than it is in Malaysia. One can earn a comfortable life as a GP. However the grass is never always greener on the other side.
There are several ways to enter the GP pathway.
The first thing you need to find out is if your degree is recognised by AHPRA. I have written about this in my previous posts.
One can enter the PESCI pathway with AMC part 1 and a limited registration. In my honest opinion this will limit the places you can work in. Please read more about this pathway if you feel it suits you best.
The safer route that allows you more flexibility would be the standard AMC pathway that gives you a general registration (GR). With a GR you can work as a GP or in the hospital if your visa allows it. Honeslty speaking, GP is not for everyone. You may try GP for a few months and find that it does not suit you and you can go back to hospital to find out what you really want to do. Even being a career hospitalist is a choice here in Australia. We can discuss this in a later post.
Ok back to our topic.
There are two colleges you can apply to get Fellowship in general practice.
- Royal Australian College General Practioners (RACGP)
- Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACCRM)
I will talk about the RACGP
As of 2021-2022 training to become a Fellow is via two pathways
- AGPT – Australian General Practice Training Program – a government funded pathway to train doctors to become GPs. The duration is about 3 years. The pay is fixed with superannuation, paid annual leaves etc. There is good supervision and the clinics that the doctor is sent to has been vetted by the college to train GP registrars. The goal is to prepare the candidate to successfully pass the GP exams. The entry criteria is listed on the website. In summary you’d need a general registration and permanent residency.
- PEP – Practice Experience Pathway (PEP) (Standard) – Now with the PEP Standard pathway, it gets a bit tricky. The goal of this pathway is to get IMGs to rural and remote areas to meet the workforce shortages. One needs to have a minimum of a limited registration to be able to apply to PEP. The areas which a potential candidate is elligible to are MMM 2-7 regions (please refer to the workforce calculator to determine the MMM status of your area of interest). You can apply for PEP even on a temporary work visa. You would be allowed to charge the full Medicare rebate of a Vocationally Registered (VR) – GP -( note that non VR rates are 80% of VR rates – the difference is significant). You would also need to nominate your clinic to the college to see if it is suitable for you to conduct PEP. Now finding a good clinic can be challenging. There are many clinics out there that will take advantage of the many vulnerabilities an IMG faces – i.e. registration with AHPRA, visa and financial status, isolation of being far away from family – to their benefit. I have experienced it first hand and heard countless anectodes of IMGs being mistreated by sadly, IMG run clinics.
So my advice is this, if GP is what you are aiming for, read all you can about the AGPT and PEP. If you have friends in Australia who are GPs, pick their brains about these two pathways. Do not rush into things and take your time to decide.
If you do go into PEP, please visit the clinic you intend to work in. Sit with the practice owner for a week or more to see how it is run. If you note anything dodgy about the clinic, write it down for your own reference. Talk to your friends who are GPs or registrars in the program to see if the clinic is suitable for you.
Some clinic owners see their clinic as ways to make as much money as possible and would stoop to unethical methods to keep the patients with them i.e. provide face mask wearing exemption letters. They have become more business-persons rather than doctors. You can earn a good living being a GP but it has to be honest work. Please avoid such clinics, and most importantly do not end up being like these doctors.
I can talk about selfcare in future entries. It can be applied to every health care provider in the world. It is high time we as doctors should start taking care of our own health too.
Till next time