Bonded Medical Places - Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for the Bonded Medical Places (BMP) Scheme

Page last updated: 06 June 2016

FAQs from BMP participants at university

1. If I receive an offer of a BMP Scheme place from one university, will it be valid at another Australian university?
2. Can I transfer from my BMP Scheme place to a standard entry Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) previously known as a HECS place?
3. Can I defer part of my medical degree?
4. If I fail one year of my studies, can I repeat?
5. If I complete an honours year or a research year, will I have to do my return of service for an additional year?
6. Can I take time out for parenting?
7. I didn’t know you needed information from me regarding changes to my circumstances. What exactly do I need to provide?
8. Can I apply for scholarships while in a BMP Scheme position?
9. Why is the BMP Scheme only available to first year students?
10. Will I have to pay my university fees (HECS-HELP)?
11. What is the time commitment of the BMP Scheme?

FAQs from BMP participants who have completed their university course

1. Where can I work as a BMP Scheme participant?
2. How long is my Return of Service Period?
3. What is a District of Workforce Shortage?
4. What is the Modified Monash Model and how does it apply to eligible locations?
5. I have just finished my Internship and I want to of complete some of my Return of Service Period during my Pre-Vocational and Vocational Training. Can you tell me more about this?
6. Can I choose where to work and will I be able to practise in more than one location during my Return of Service Period?
7. I am currently doing a vocational training placement in a location that is not classified as a District of Workforce Shortage. I have a lot of patients and although not technically a District of Workforce Shortage, the practice I am working in really need me to stay. Can I request special consideration to complete my Return of Service Period here after I gain Fellowship?
8. Is there flexibility in my working hours during the Return of Service Period?
9. Am I entitled to have annual leave/sick leave during the Return of Service Period?
10. Does the Return of Service Period need to be continuous?
11. Can I specialise in an area of my choice?
12. What if I begin to work in a District of Workforce Shortage and it is subsequently reclassified and ceases to be a District of Workforce Shortage? Will I need to move areas?
13. What if I begin to work in a Modified Monash Model (MMM) category 4-7 location and it is subsequently reclassified as a MMM category 1-3? Will I need to move areas?
14. Can BMP Scheme participants undertake vocational training overseas?
15. Can I complete my Return of Service Period overseas?
16. I have been thinking about my Return of Service Period after Fellowship. I want to do some additional training or maybe do some work in a location that isn’t an eligible location. Can I do this before I start my Return of Service Period?
17. What happens after I complete my Return of Service Period?
18. What happens if I only complete part of the Return of Service Period?

FAQs from BMP participants at university

1. If I receive an offer of a BMP Scheme place from one university, will it be valid at another Australian university?

No. The BMP Scheme place is allocated and linked to the university making the offer of a place at medical school. This means that if you are successful in receiving a BMP offer from a university, it is only valid for that specific university. Under certain circumstances, you may transfer to another university during your course, but you will still occupy a bonded medical place.

2. Can I transfer from my BMP Scheme place to a standard entry Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) previously known as a HECS place?

No. Your place at university is tied to the BMP Scheme. Withdrawal from the BMP Scheme means that you relinquish your medical school place.

3. Can I defer part of my medical degree?

Yes but you need to notify the Department if you defer any part of your course. Note that you will have 10 years from the commencement of your degree to achieve medical registration. If you require time off during your degree or shortly afterwards, this should not affect your ability to achieve medical registration in the required time. However, if you have good reason to take an extended period of leave during your degree you may seek approval to defer your obligation to achieve medical registration within 10 years of commencing your course.

4. If I fail one year of my studies, can I repeat?

This is a matter for you and your university. As far as the BMP Scheme is concerned, repeating a year is not an issue providing you become a registered medical practitioner within 10 years of commencing your course.

5. If I complete an honours year or a research year, will I have to do my return of service for an additional year?

No. Your Return of Service Period is equal to the length of your medical degree and does not include any additional elective study.

6. Can I take time out for parenting?

A deferral period of up to one year is available for a participant of either sex, for each event, including a birth or an adoption. Multiple births (e.g. twins) are counted as a single event for the purposes of a deferral period. You will need to seek approval for longer leave periods or for special circumstances.

You will need to notify the Department in writing no later than 30 days after the commencement of the period of deferral, which must include the day on which the child was born or adopted, together with supporting evidence, such as the child’s birth certificate.

7. I didn’t know you needed information from me regarding changes to my circumstances. What exactly do I need to provide?

You will need to keep the Department informed when certain events occur (such as when your contact details change, or you commence Pre-Vocational Training). A full list of requirements can be found in your Deed of Agreement. The information you are required to provide the Department helps us track your progress towards completing your obligations under the BMP Scheme and can usually be provided by a simple email.

8. Can I apply for scholarships while in a BMP Scheme position?

Yes. Students who agree to take up a medical school place through the BMP Scheme are able to apply for Australian Government or State Government assistance schemes. It is your responsibility to ensure that you will be able to meet your obligations under your BMP Deed of Agreement if you accept a scholarship.

9. Why is the BMP Scheme only available to first year students?

The medical place at a university that a participant is allocated is specifically created to support the BMP Scheme. Therefore, students will be allocated their bonded medical place from their first year of study and will occupy the same bonded place until their degree is finished.

10. Will I have to pay my university fees (HECS – HELP)?

Yes. You will be responsible for any university fees or any HECS-HELP debt you may incur. Further advice on your individual income and HECS-HELP repayments can be obtained from the Department of Education and Training HELP enquiry line on free call 1800 020 108 or by visiting the Study Assist website.

11. What is the time commitment of the BMP Scheme?

After you have completed your medical training you will be required to complete a Return of Service Period (RoSP) that is equivalent to the length of your medical course at university. For example, if you completed a four-year course, the RoSP will be four years. Your RoSP does not commence until after you have attained Fellowship.

You may reduce your RoSP (by up to half of the length of your medical course) through Eligible Pre-Vocational Training and Eligible Vocational Training. The RoSP can be further reduced through Scaling. It is possible for a four-year RoSP to be reduced to 12 months through Eligible Pre-Vocational Training, Eligible Vocational Training and Scaling.

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You must work a minimum of 20 hours per week, for at least 9 months each year during your Return of Service Period.

FAQs from BMP participants who have completed their university course

1. Where can I work as a BMP Scheme participant?

BMP Scheme participants are able to complete Pre-Vocational and Vocational Training placements anywhere in Australia. There are no restrictions. (However, by training in certain locations you may be able to reduce your Return of Service Period.) Your obligation to complete the Return of Service Period in an eligible location (i.e. in either a District of Workforce Shortage, or Modified Monash Model category 4-7 location), does not commence until you have attained Fellowship of a medical college.

2. How long is my Return of Service Period?

As a doctor participating in the BMP Scheme, you must work in a District of Workforce Shortage or a Modified Monash Model category 4-7 location, for a period of time equal to the length of your medical degree.

The Return of Service Period (RoSP) can be shortened. You may complete up to half the RoSP during pre-vocational (resident) training or vocational training if that training meets the requirements (including location requirements) for Eligible Pre-Vocational training and Eligible Vocational Training specified in your Deed of Agreement.

You can also shorten your RoSP by Scaling, which reduces your obligation based on the remoteness of your work location during your RoSP.

It is possible for a four-year RoSP to be reduced to 12 months through Eligible Pre-Vocational Training, Eligible Vocational Training and Scaling. More information about these topics appears below.

3. What is a District of Workforce Shortage?

In general, a District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) is a geographical area in which the local population has less access to Medicare-subsidised medical services when compared to the national average for that type of service. Your BMP agreement contains more accurate definitions of DWS as they apply to your medical discipline and your Return of Service Obligation.

Further information about the DWS locations is available on the DoctorConnect website

4. What is the Modified Monash Model and how does it apply to eligible locations?

The Modified Monash Model (MMM) is derived from research by the Monash University as to how locations relate to key GP workforce indicators.

The MMM is based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Australian Statistical Geography Standard – Remoteness Areas, with locations in Inner and Outer Regional Australia being further classified by the local town size.

BMP Scheme participants are allowed to fulfil their Return of Service Period obligations in locations classified as MMM 4-7 in addition to the existing District of Workforce Shortage locations. Participants who wish to do so, should read this letter first.

Most Australian towns with a population of 15,000 or less will now fall within MMM 4-7 categories and will therefore be locations in which BMP Scheme participants will be able to fulfil their Return of Service Period obligations. However, some locations with a population of 15,000 or less may not automatically be eligible if they are, for example, very close to a major city or defined within a much larger urban region.

An approximation of MMM regions compared to current Australian Standard Geographical Classification - Rural Areas appears in the table below. For the most recent MMM categories, you should check the DoctorConnect website


Modified Monash Category
Inclusions
MM 1
All areas categorised ASGS-RA1.
MM 2
Areas categorised ASGS-RA 2 and ASGS-RA 3 that are in, or within 20km road distance, of a town with population >50,000.
MM 3
Areas categorised ASGS-RA 2 and ASGS-RA 3 that are not in MM 2 and are in, or within 15km road distance, of a town with population between 15,000 and 50,000.
MM 4
Areas categorised ASGS-RA 2 and ASGS-RA 3 that are not in MM 2 or MM 3, and are in, or within 10km road distance, of a town with population between 5,000 and 15,000.
MM 5
All other areas in ASGS-RA 2 and 3.
MM 6
All areas categorised ASGS-RA 4 that are not on a populated island that is separated from the mainland in the ABS geography and is more than 5km offshore.
MM 7
All other areas – that being ASGS-RA 5 and areas on a populated island that is separated from the mainland in the ABS geography and is more than 5km offshore.

5. I have just finished my Internship, and I want to complete some of my Return of Service Period during my Pre-Vocational and Vocational Training. Can you tell me more about this?

BMP Scheme participants can complete up to half the total Return of Service Period prior to attaining Fellowship during pre-vocational and/or vocational training, if their original agreement, or any subsequent Deed of Variation permits.

Eligible Pre-Vocational Training can be completed in any location other than an Inner Metropolitan area. You can find out the status of a location by searching the map on the DoctorConnect website. The training placement must be within one location, for a minimum of three months and you must be working for a minimum of 20 hours per week.

Eligible Vocational Training locations vary, depending on what specialty pathway you choose, when you signed your Deed of Agreement and if you have signed a Deed of Variation since 2010. You should refer to your Deed of Agreement for the location criteria that apply to you. The training placement must be within one location, for a minimum of three months and you must be working for a minimum of 20 hours per week. More information on Eligible Vocational Training can be obtained by emailing BMPScheme@health.gov.au.

To have an Eligible Pre-Vocational Training or Eligible Vocational Training placement count towards your Return of Service Period you must apply to the BMP Scheme prior to commencing the placement. You will need to submit an application form and, after the training period, proof of training and/or employment. Application forms can be found on the BMP Scheme website or by emailing BMPScheme@health.gov.au. Proof of employment must confirm the location, start and end dates of the placement you wish to claim for. This can be the letter of offer from your employer, or a purpose written, signed letter, confirming the location, start and end dates.

6. Can I choose where to work and will I be able to practise in more than one location during my Return of Service Period?

Yes, provided you practise in a District of Workforce Shortage, or a Modified Monash Model category 4-7 location, you choose where to work. You can fulfil your Return of Service Period by practising in one or more locations.

7. I am currently doing a vocational training placement in a location that is not classified as a District of Workforce Shortage (DWS). I have a lot of patients and although not technically a DWS, the practice I am working in really needs me to stay. Can I request special consideration to complete my Return of Service Period here after I gain Fellowship?

If you worked in a town classified as a Modified Monash Model (MMM) category 4-7 location this would be an eligible location for your Return of Service Period (RoSP), irrespective of the town's DWS status. You will need to notify the Department if you wish to work in a location classified as MMM 4-7.

Otherwise, the answer is no. A RoSP can only be served by working in a DWS or MMM category 4-7 location.

You could request special permission to remain working in your current non-DWS area for a short period once you achieved Fellowship but this would only be considered in the case of exceptional circumstances, and you would still need to commence your RoSP within 12 months.

8. Is there flexibility in my working hours during the Return of Service Period?

Yes. You are only required to work for nine months of each full calendar year at least 20 hours per week, including no less than three months in any six month period.

9. Am I entitled to have annual leave/sick leave during the Return of Service Period?

Yes, as with normal working conditions and arrangements agreed with your employer, providing you meet your obligations under the BMP Scheme Deed of Agreement.

10. Does the Return of Service Period need to be continuous?

Yes, but it is possible to seek permission for a period of deferral during your Return of Service Period in special circumstances.

11. Can I specialise in an area of my choice?

Yes. However, you need to be aware of whether the service facilities you require as a specialist, and the patient load to which you will have access, will be sufficient in an eligible BMP Return of Service Period (RoSP) location. If, at the time you are to commence your RoSP, a location is not a District of Workforce Shortage (for your particular specialty) or you are not working in a Modified Monash Model category 4-7 location, you cannot fulfil you RoSP obligation in that location. You should carefully consider your choice of specialty, having regard to your obligations under the BMP Scheme Deed of Agreement.

12. What if I begin to work in a District of Workforce Shortage and it is subsequently reclassified and ceases to be a District of Workforce Shortage? Will I need to move areas?

No. Under the BMP Scheme you can stay in the one location for the whole of your Return of Service Period, providing it was a District of Workforce Shortage when you commenced your Return of Service Period.

13. What if I begin to work in a Modified Monash Model (MMM) category 4-7 location and it is subsequently reclassified as a MMM category 1-3? Will I need to move areas?

No. Under the BMP Scheme you can stay in the one location for the whole of your Return of Service Period, providing it was a MMM category 4-7 when you commenced your Return of Service Period.

14. Can BMP Scheme participants undertake vocational training overseas?

Yes. However you must return to Australia to undertake your Return of Service Period (RoSP) within 12 months of attaining Fellowship. Vocational training undertaken overseas cannot be used to reduce your RoSP. In other words, any training you do that reduces your RoSP must be undertaken in an eligible location in Australia as specified in your Deed of Agreement.

15. Can I complete my Return of Service Period overseas?

No. After attaining Fellowship you must work in a District of Workforce Shortage, or a Modified Monash Model category 4-7 location, in Australia.

16. I have been thinking about my Return of Service Period (RoSP) after Fellowship. I want to do some additional training or maybe do some work in a location that isn’t eligible for fulfilling my RoSP obligation. Can I do this before I start my RoSP?

BMP Scheme participants have up to 12 months from the date Fellowship is recognised by the Department of Human Services to commence their RoSP in an eligible location – ie, a District of Workforce Shortage or a Modified Monash Model category 4-7. During this 12 month period participants cannot render a Professional Service outside an eligible location without written approval. This 12 month period is intended to provide participants time to find employment in the eligible location of their choice.

You may apply for a deferral of the commencement of your RoSP. Approval of deferral applications will be considered on a case by case basis.

17. What happens after I complete my Return of Service Period?

After completing your Return of Service Period in a District of Workforce Shortage or Modified Monash Model category 4-7 you will have no further obligations under the Deed of Agreement and will be able to practise in any location you choose.

18. What happens if I only complete part of the Return of Service Period?

If you only complete part of the Return of Service Period, you will be in breach of your Deed of Agreement. You may be required to repay a portion of the Australian Government's contribution to your medical course.