Pathways into general practice

There are multiple pathways into general practice in Australia and two medical colleges through which you can obtain GP fellowship. While the Fellowships from both ACRRM and RACGP allow you to practise as a GP in Australia, each has varying details. When deciding which college to apply to, be sure to understand the differences.
The colleges in Australia are:

ACRRM Fellowship

The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) provides a training program that specifically focuses on the needs of rural communities. While an urban general practitioner may refer cases to a specialist or tertiary hospital, a GP in rural or remote communities may not have a specialist hospital close-by. This can mean extending from primary to secondary to ongoing care. Rural or remote GPs need a broader set of skills to address the diverse needs of the community.

 

The ACRRM pathways which lead to Fellowship include:

Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) — for graduates and experienced doctors who prefer formal, educator-directed learning. As the training is government-funded, eligibility criteria applies. Through the AGPT program, training is delivered through one of nine Regional Training Organisations (RTO) across Australia. The AGPT program is the most common pathway for Australian doctors.

Note: ACRRM provides training on the Rural Pathway only, however, those with the FACRRM are qualified to practise in rural, remote, regional and urban settings.

Rural Generalist Training Scheme – The Rural Generalist Training Scheme (RGTS) is a four-year, fully funded stream of the College-led Independent Pathway that leads to Fellowship of ACRRM (FACRRM).

Independent Pathway (IP) — Experienced doctors, who prefer self-directed learning. Training is provided by ACRRM (NOT an RTO) and is self-funded, plus additional costs for assessments, applications, membership, etc). However, Commonwealth funding is available for eligible doctors. This is a pathway for international medical graduates or Australian citizens who want to get into rural general practice. Application, selection and enrolment are all managed by ACRRM.

RACGP Fellowship

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) provides GP education and training. For metro and rural GPs. The endpoint qualification is Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (FRACGP).


The RACGP pathways which lead to Fellowship include:

Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program pathway — for graduates and experienced doctors who prefer formal, educator-directed learning. As the training is government-funded, eligibility criteria applies. Through the AGPT program, training is delivered through one of nine Regional Training Organisations (RTO) across Australia. The AGPT program is the most common pathway for Australian doctors.

  • Fellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice (FARGP) — a qualification recognising advanced rural skills awarded in addition to FRACGP, this is not a stand-alone qualification, it is an extra year of training completed after you finish your FRACGP. The FARGP is being updated to align with a national Rural Generalist Medicine training pathway and will be replaced by a four-year standalone Rural Generalist Fellowship (FRACGP-RG)

The General Practice Experience Pathway (PEP) – Note this program came to an end in June 2022.

The PEP pathways superseded the Specialist Pathway Program (SPP).

There are two streams within the PEP program:

  • PEP – Standard Stream
    The PEP standard stream is designed for non-VR doctors who do not hold specialist qualifications and those who had a Specialist stream comparability assessment and this deemed them as non-comparable. The PEP is co-funded by the Commonwealth Government under the Australian Government’s Stronger Rural Health Strategy for Doctors based in MMM2 to MMM7 areas.
  • PEP – Specialist Stream
    For international medical graduates (IMGs) with a recognised overseas specialist qualification who wish to qualify for Fellowship of the RACGP (FRACGP). The PEP Specialist Stream is co-funded by the Commonwealth Government under the Australian Government’s Stronger Rural Health Strategy for Doctors based in MMM2 to MMM7 areas.

Fellowship Support Program (FSP)
The FSP is a new education and training program to support doctors on the General Practice Experience (GPE) Pathway now the Department of Health subsidy for the PEP has ended (June 2022). The FSP provides learning resources, supervision, in-practice assessment and real-time feedback to help IMGs prepare for Fellowship of the RACGP. The first round of applications will open in July 2022 for a program start in January 2023. More information can be found on the RACGP website and FAQs page

Domestic students

All five of the following pathways are available to domestic students

The Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program:

  • Government-funded program.
  • This is the most common pathway for Australian doctors to become a GP
  • ACRRM (rural pathway only)
  • RACGP (rural and general pathways).

Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS): 

  • ACRRM or RACGP
  • Rural pathway only
  • Government-funded GP training program
  • for medical practitioners working in rural and remote communities throughout Australia, and doctors working in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. 

Rural Generalist: 

This program, the latest step in the Government’s commitment to implement a National Rural Generalist Pathway, will fund a number of GP training places in areas of workforce need and was implemented in 2021. Training is with ACRRM or RACGP.

Independent Pathway (IP): 

  • ACRRM
  • Rural pathway only
  • Fees are self-funded, but depending on your training location, it may be government-subsidised.

The General Practice Experience Pathway (PEP):

  • RACGP
  • Rural or general pathways
  • Fees are self-funded, but depending on your training location, it may be government-subsidised.

The new Fellowship Support Program (FSP) has been introduced to support doctors on the General Practice Experience (GPE) Pathway now the Department of Health subsidy for the Practice Experience Program (PEP) has ended, June 2022.

International students

Only the above two pathways are available to international students

Domestic students

All five of the following pathways are available to domestic students

The Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program:

  • Government-funded program.
  • This is the most common pathway for Australian doctors to become a GP
  • ACRRM (rural pathway only)
  • RACGP (rural and general pathways).

Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS): 

  • ACRRM or RACGP
  • Rural pathway only
  • Government-funded GP training program
  • for medical practitioners working in rural and remote communities throughout Australia, and doctors working in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. 

Rural Generalist: 

This program, the latest step in the Government’s commitment to implement a National Rural Generalist Pathway, will fund a number of GP training places in areas of workforce need and was implemented in 2021. Training is with ACRRM or RACGP.

International students

The following two pathways are available to both domestic and international students

Independent Pathway (IP): 

  • ACRRM
  • Rural pathway only
  • Fees are self-funded, but depending on your training location, it may be government-subsidised.

The General Practice Experience Pathway (PEP):

  • RACGP
  • Rural or general pathways
  • Fees are self-funded, but depending on your training location, it may be government-subsidised

Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS)

RVTS is a government-funded GP training program for medical practitioners working in rural and remote communities throughout Australia, and doctors working in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service.

The purpose of the program is to train doctors in remote communities for remote communities.

Through this training scheme, you live and work in your remote location while conducting your GP training remotely, supported by distance education and remote supervision.

Under the training program, you can elect to achieve Fellowship of either ACRRM and/or RACGP. You do not choose an RTO.

The three to four-year program delivers structured distance education and supervision to doctors while they continue to provide general medical services to a remote and/or isolated community.

If you are interested in this program, apply directly with the RVTS.

Visit rvts.org.au for more information.

Recognition of prior learning for ACRRM and RACGP

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is possible, depending on the rotations you have done in your hospital training and the completion of more than one year of hospital training. You must apply for RPL in the first year of general practice training. Make your request for RPL through your regional training provider once you have accepted a training place. Your application will be formally assessed by the regional training provider and the college.