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10.3.08

Assessment of overseas medical qualifications in Australia

The Australian Medical Council administers the national examinations of overseas trained medical practitioners seeking to practise medicine in Australia.

The AMC examinations are designed to assess, for registration purposes, the medical knowledge and clinical skills of overseas trained doctors whose basic medical qualifications are not recognised by State and Territory Medical Boards that is, doctors trained in medical schools that have not been formally reviewed and accredited by the AMC.

The standard of the AMC examinations is defined as the level of attainment of medical knowledge, clinical skills and attitudes required of newly qualified graduates of Australian medical schools who are about to commence intern training. Information on the AMC's goals and objectives of basic medical education is available here.

The AMC examinations consist of two sections:

  • The multiple choice examination (MCQ) is a test of the principles and practice of medicine in the fields of internal medicine, paediatrics, psychiatry, surgery and obstetrics and gynaecology. A number of questions in each discipline also has a focus on general practice. The MCQ is computer administered and is in two parts (morning session & afternoon session), each of three hours duration. Each part contains 150 questions. The MCQ examination is held over one day.
  • The clinical examinations evaluate clinical competence in terms of medical knowledge, clinical skills and professional attitudes for the safe and effective clinical practice of medicine in the Australian community. The clinical examination will consist of a multi-station structured clinical assessment of clinical skills. Disciplines covered include: medicine and surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics and psychiatry. Candidates are scheduled for a single morning or afternoon examination.

The examinations are designed as a comprehensive test of medical knowledge, clinical competency and performance. Both MCQ and clinical assessments are multidisciplinary and integrated. The computer MCQ examination focusses on essential medical knowledge involving understanding of the disease process, clinical examination, diagnosis, investigation, therapy and management, as well as on the candidate's ability to exercise discrimination, judgement and reasoning in distinguishing between the correct diagnosis and plausible alternatives. The clinical examination also assesses the candidate's capacity to communicate with patients, their families and other health workers.

The range of topics covered in the AMC examination is based on the clinical curricula of Australian medical schools with an emphasis on common conditions in the Australian community.

The AMC’s Board of Examiners ensures that the format and content of the AMC examinations are consistent with undergraduate medical courses and the standard of examinations in Australian medical schools. Members of the Board have broad expertise over the full range of disciplines covered in the AMC and medical school examinations.

Recognition of Overseas Specialists

Specialist training and practice in Australia generally follows the model of postgraduate advanced clinical training and examinations developed in the United Kingdom. National Specialist Medical Colleges set and administer the programs of specialist medical training and examinations.

The Australian State and Territory medical boards, which are responsible for the registration of medical practitioners, have agreed to accept overseas trained specialists who are recognised by Australian or Australasian Specialist Medical Colleges for registration to practise in their field of specialisation.

The purpose of the specialist assessment procedure is to determine the equivalence of training and qualifications of overseas trained specialists with Australian trained specialists. The procedure is administered by the AMC, but assessment of the applicant's training and experience is undertaken by the relevant Specialist Medical College.

The specialist assessment procedure is a separate pathway to the AMC examinations. Applicants for specialist assessment may, at any time, apply separately to the AMC Secretariat to present for the AMC examination for general (non-specialist) registration.

For more information, please see the Information for Exam Candidates section.


The Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing provides its own advice on the restrictions that apply to overseas trained doctors seeking to practise in Australia. Click here to access this advice.

IMPORTANT NOTICE – GENERAL SKILLED MIGRATION PROGRAM

New immigration arrangements under the General Skilled Migration Program were announced by the Australian Government on 21 May 2004. Medical practitioners are now included on the Skilled Occupations List. This means that applicants who satisfy State or Territory Medical Board requirements for general medical registration or conditional registration to practise as a specialist will no longer require a sponsor to migrate to Australia. Further information is available from the website of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs at www.dimia.gov.au/migration/skilled/doctors/index.htm

It is important to note that:

o overseas trained doctors whose primary medical qualifications are not recognised in Australia can only gain eligibility for general registration if they pass the AMC examination, are awarded the AMC Certificate, and complete a period of supervised training approved by a State or Territory Medical Board

and

o overseas trained specialists whose primary medical qualifications are not recognised in Australia must have their training and qualifications assessed through the AMC/Specialist Medical College assessment procedures and have gained recognition as a specialist practitioner by the relevant College before being eligible to apply to a State or Territory Medical Board for conditional registration to practise in the field of specialisation in which they have been recognised.

Changes to the assessment process for Area of Need specialists are currently under consideration. However, the existing processing arrangements will continue until further notice.

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