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Why Not Australia... 

By Dr. Kayode Kuku

A vast majority of medical graduates from developing countries such as ours, these days, continue to seek opportunities for residency training abroad. While the United States , United Kingdom and Canada seem to be the choicest of locations amongst many, for reasons best summed up in their desire to follow the more familiar paths , a few have caught wind of the level of medical training in the equally organized and sophisticated , though relatively far continent of Oceania (the continent housing Australia and New Zealand).

The Australian health system is indeed a developed one comprising of a mix of public and private service providers and funding is provided by all levels of government, health insurers, non-governmental organizations and individuals. 

What exactly does it entail to gain registration into Australian medical system as an International Medical graduate (IMG) or practitioner?

Gaining medical registration in Australia

"Getting Medical Registration" -  Doctors working in theatre
International medical graduates (IMGs) whose primary medical qualifications were obtained in a country other than Australia or New Zealand, and who wish to practise as a medical practitioner in Australia, must be assessed according to one of three assessment pathways:
  • Competent Authority Pathway
  • Specialist Pathway
  • Standard Pathway.

Competent Authority Pathway

The Competent Authority Pathway is for IMGs who are non-specialist or specialists (including general practitioners) who are seeking general registration with the Medical Board of Australia (MBA)
The MBA has approved a number of international authorities as competent to assess, for medical registration, the applied medical knowledge and basic clinical skills of IMGs.
The MBA approved competent authorities are:
  • General Medical Council (United Kingdom—for the PLAB examination or for graduates of GMC-accredited medical courses in the United Kingdom)
  • Medical Council of Canada (LMCC)
  • Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates of the United States (USMLE)
  • Medical Council of New Zealand (NZREX)
  • Medical Council of Ireland (graduates of medical courses in Ireland accredited by the Medical Council of Ireland).
IMGs apply directly to the MBA for provisional registration (external link), via the Competent Authority Pathway. IMGs must provide the MBA with evidence of meeting the criteria of one of the competent authority categories, together with their application. In addition, all IMGs are required to comply with the MBAs registration standards (external link).
IMGs registered via the Competent Authority Pathway will undertake a period of practice in either supervised hospital-based positions or supervised positions in general practice in Australia.
The MBA website (external link) provides information on this assessment pathway and the application process.

Specialist Pathway

The Specialist Pathway is for IMGs in one of the following categories:
  • overseas-trained specialists applying for assessment of comparability to the standard of a specialist trained in that specialty in Australia (specialist recognition)
  • overseas-trained specialists applying for an area of need specialist level position in Australia (area of need)
  • overseas-trained specialists or specialists-in-training wishing to undertake a short period of specialist or advanced training in Australia (short-term training).
IMGs can apply directly to the specialist medical college for the Specialist Pathway but must apply to the AMC for primary source verification (external link) of their qualifications through the International Credentials Services (EICS).
The MBA website (external link) provides information on this assessment pathway and the application process.

Standard Pathway

This pathway is generally for non-specialist IMGs seeking general registration in Australia and who do not qualify for the Competent Authority Pathway. There are two alternate processes leading to the AMC Certificate under this pathway.
  • Standard Pathway (AMC examinations). Assessment by examination only – the AMC Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) Multiple Choice Questionnaire (MCQ) Examination and the AMC Clinical Examination. Most applicants are assessed through this method.
  • Standard Pathway (workplace-based assessment). Assessment is by the AMC CAT MCQ Examination and workplace-based assessment of clinical skills and knowledge through an AMC-accredited authority. Limited places are available through this pathway which is currently being implemented in some states, including Western Australia.


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