MANILA, Philippines — Australia has relaxed its rules for foreign medical doctors — both general practitioners and specialists — who want to migrate and practice there, a registered migration agent told INQUIRER.net.
“The rules are becoming easier for doctors to be allowed to work and live in Australia…There are big changes in 2007,” Howard Neil Donkin, vice president of MAB International Services Inc., said, adding that changes to Australian migration rules to make this possible are being implemented in phases. .
Donkin was in the country for a conference.
The first phase is from July 1, when the English Language Proficiency (ELP) requirement will no longer be required of overseas-trained medical doctors who want to start the examination process of the Australian Medical Council (AMC) under the multiple choice examination (MCQ).
Donkin said that although ELP is a formal requirement for the registration of foreign medical professionals in Australia, “any candidate who undertakes MCQ after July 1 is not required to fulfill ELP requirements for eligibility to sit in the examination.”
He said the AMC examinations consist of two sections: the MCQ and the clinical examinations.
Made up of 125 questions, the computer-administered MCQ is a test on the principles and practice of medicine in the field being tested for. Some questions on general practice are also included in the test, which is administered in two three-hour sessions, one in the morning and another in the afternoon.
The examination focuses 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, judgment, and reasoning in distinguishing between the correct diagnosis and plausible alternatives, he explained.
On the other hand, 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. They consist of a multi-station structured clinical assessment of clinical skills.
Donkin added that the clinical examination also assesses the candidate’s capacity to communicate with patients, their families and other health workers.
According to Donkin, the examinations are designed as a comprehensive test of medical knowledge, clinical competency and performance. Both MCQ and clinical assessments are multidisciplinary and integrated.
By September 1, the Competence Authority Pathway is going to be introduced. Although the Australian government has not released the details of this new rule, Donkin said it is believed that his government will look at the universities around the world and choose from “competent authorities” among these.
He said graduates of these chosen universities will “get advanced standing” and may no longer need to take the multiple choice examination and the clinical examination. Instead, they will take a “workplace-based assessment.”
“Now, where this assessment will take place, here or in Australia, is not known yet,” he said.
Asked how many foreign medical doctors Australia is willing to take in, Donkin said: “The rules don’t work that way. We don’t have numbers. We just have a list of jobs that are in demand. For doctors, these include general practitioners and those with specialties in surgery, radiology, pathology, psychiatry pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology.”
Mabis is authorized by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to deploy registered nurses, medical practitioners, and hospital/retail pharmacists to Australia.