With Government funding for PEP coming to an end, the RACGP has prepared a new support program for non-VR doctors seeking Fellowship.
Since January 2019, the Practice Experience Program (PEP) has supported non-vocationally registered (non-VR) doctors on their pathway to RACGP Fellowship.
However, despite an ongoing GP workforce shortage, the previous Federal Government decided to defund the program, prompting the college to consider alternative ways of providing assistance to those still interested in becoming RACGP Fellows.
The result is the new Fellowship Support Program (FSP), which will accept applications from 4–15 July ahead of the first intake beginning in January 2023.
Much like PEP, the FSP will offer education and training to all non-VR doctors in Australia working towards attaining Fellowship with the RACGP on the General Practice Experience (GPE) pathway.
But a key difference will be that without Government assistance, the program will become entirely self-funded for participants – significantly increasing the cost.
RACGP Chief Education Officer Rob LoPresti acknowledged the challenge this will pose for many non-VR doctors hoping to engage with the FSP, but said the college is ‘actively advocating’ for renewed Government support.
‘We know international medical graduates provide a significant and valuable contribution at a time when Australia is facing serious GP shortages,’ he said newsGP.
‘To that end, we have prepared a briefing that college leadership will present to the new Federal Health Minister Mark Butler on why we believe ongoing support for non-VR doctors seeking RACGP Fellowship is required.
‘However, there is also no certainty that funding will be provided. As such, we want to continue providing support to members on the General Practice Experience Pathway by offering a self-funded education and training program that will enable them to progress towards Fellowship. ‘
The FSP is designed for practitioners working in regional, rural and remote practices in Australia.
Doctors working in comprehensive general practice in a Modified Monash (MM) 2–7 area will be able to apply to the FSP and obtain a Medicare provider number to secure the highest level of rebates for their patients.
Those accepted into the program will gain status as an RACGP registrar, providing discounts on RACGP membership fees and full access to the college’s library, as well as benefits from advocacy activities.
Mr LoPresti also said more information about provider numbers will be released for those working in an MM 1 area prior to applications opening next month.
‘We’re committed to supporting doctors through our Fellowship Support Program to ensure all Australians, especially those living in rural communities, can have access to quality primary healthcare,’ he said.
The Department of Health has been contacted for comment.
Information on how to apply for the FSP is available in the college’s FSP Application handbook.
FAQs and more information on program fees and FAQs is available on the RACGP website.
Any other questions regarding the FSP can be directed to the training programs team via firstname.lastname@example.org or 1800 4RACGP (1800 472 247).
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