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Applying for the AGPT program? Congratulations on deciding to become a GP. We think general practice is an excellent career choice. But before you start planning your brilliant career, there’s an application and selection process to consider. There are new processes you need to know about, and a few decisions to make that may impact your training program and location.

1. You need to decide which fellowship to pursue.

Your first decision is working out which fellowship to complete. A GP fellowship is a formal recognition of your qualification and provides you with the vocational registration required to practise as a GP in Australia.

There are three fellowships available in Australia offered by the two GP colleges, The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM).

ACRRM offers one fellowship: Fellowship of Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (FACRRM). This is a four-year full-time equivalent qualification available to registrars on the Rural Pathway.

RACGP offers two fellowships. The first, Fellowship of The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (FRACGP), takes three-year’s full-time equivalent to complete and is available to registrars on both the General Pathway and Rural Pathway. The Fellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice (FARGP) is four years’ full-time equivalent and is an additional qualification available to all registrars, completed with the FRACGP. The FARGP involves advanced rural training throughout the four year program.

2. You apply for AGPT via the GP college websites.

Once you have decided which fellowship (or fellowships) to pursue, you apply directly with the relevant college. You can complete fellowships with both colleges simultaneously, which means applying to both colleges. Here are the links to start the application process: RACGP and ACRRM. Allow plenty of time to complete your application.

3. There’s a selection assessment fee for each college

As with most specialties, there is an application fee. This is payable once the Department of Health assesses your eligibility and you move through to the selection process. The 2018 fees for eligible applicants are $700 for ACRRM and $725 for RACGP.

4. You need to choose your training pathway in your application.

There are two pathways you can take when participating in the AGPT program. The pathway effects where you can train, but it doesn’t impact where you can work once you have completed your training.

Registrars on the General Pathway may train anywhere across our region and train towards completing a FRACGP, with the option of also completing the FARGP. Registrars on the Rural Pathway train in regional, rural and remote locations. While places on the Rural Pathway are less competitive, we urge doctors to only apply if they’re genuinely interested in rural medicine. You can find out more about training in rural locations with these short video interviews.

5. ACRRM requires a written response to its selection criteria.

The selection criteria for ACRRM is similar to a job application. Make sure you don’t leave your application until the last minute, because you need to address the five criteria with a written response. ACRRM is running webinars to reveal more about this process and offer handy tips. Find out more on ACRRM’s application page.

6. You need referees, and these are particularly important for ACRRM applicants.

Both RACGP and ACRRM require you to list referees. RACGP provides the referees’ details to training providers, so we can check them during the selection process. ACRRM has a rigorous referee checking system that allocates points to applicants based on the referees’ responses. Referees are required to complete an online response to questions based on the selection criteria, which takes about an hour.

Your ACRRM referees need to have worked with you for at least four weeks in the past three years. They should be able and willing to respond to detailed questions about you. ACRRM applicants in particular are urged to brief their referees, and confirm they’re willing to provide a positive reference. Once you have submitted your ACRRM application, your referees will be emailed to fill out an online questionnaire (takes about an hour). It would be wise to contact your referee once you submit your application to check they have received the email and are ready to respond. It’s worth attending an ACRRM webinar to find out more.

7. There’s an exam for RACGP applicants.

RACGP holds an entrance exam, called Candidate Assessment Applied Knowledge Test or CAAKT. It’s a two-and-a-half-hour online test that you have to complete at a registered venue on 22 July 2017. RACGP has said the assessment is a mix of questions similar to the situational judgment test and testing the applicant’s clinical knowledge.

RACGP president Dr Bastian Seidel explained the exam to Australian Doctor: “It comprises of knowledge test questions and situational judgment test questions. Knowledge test questions are multiple choice questions that aim to test clinical knowledge. These questions do not focus on a broad range of medical knowledge but specifically on acute emergency situations and potentially serious conditions.”

Dr Seidel also said: “Situational judgment test questions aim to assess candidate’s judgment in a range of professional scenarios, often with a focus on ethical, moral, legal issues and professionalism. These questions seek to assess reasoning in these scenarios.”

“The questions are partly derived from the RACGP’s competency profile of the GP at the point of fellowship. In preparing for the test, candidates should review these selection criteria and consider how their experience relates to these criteria.”

Keep an eye on the RACGP website for exemplar questions or attend one of the RACGP webinars.

Australian Doctor subscribers can read the full interview with Dr Seidel.

8. We accept doctors on 457 temporary resident visas.

At GPTQ, we are currently accepting expressions of interest from applicants on 457 visas. The deadline for expressions of interest, including providing your CV, is strictly 9am on Monday, 1 May 2017. This will allow us one week to assess your inquiry and provide a letter of support before the AGPT application due date. You will be required to submit your letter of support with your online application. Check our website for further information for 457 visa holders and the process for your general practice application. Contact us at gptq@gptq.qld.edu.au

9. Key dates and deadlines are inflexible

No doubt, you’re familiar with the inflexibility of exam and submission dates linked to medical training. GP training is no different. If you miss the application close date or other key dates, you will need to wait until next year to reapply. AGPT applications close at 10:00am AEST on 8 May 2017.

10. There are great resources available to help make decisions about your training.

Both colleges host useful information about the application process. They are both holding webinars where you can find out more about the application and selection process. Find out more here at RACGP and ACRRM. We also boast a bunch of other useful resources, including our FAQs, explainers and GP interviews.