General practitioners (GPs)

Visas for General Practitioners


Stronger Rural Health Strategy

The Australian Government’s Stronger Rural Health Strategy aims to build a sustainable, high quality health workforce that is distributed across the country according to community need particularly in rural and remote communities.

Through changes in Medicare benefits, General Practice (GP) training arrangements and financial incentives, vocationally recognised (VR) GPs and non-vocationally recognised (Non-VR) doctors will bill Medicare according to their level of qualification. This will create a strong incentive for doctors to attain specialist GP qualification and provide communities where non-VR doctors work, particularly regional, rural and remote locations, access to a specialist GP trained to the highest industry standards.

Changes to General Practice Training commencing 1 January 2019

The existing GP training programs are changing. From 1 January 2019 there will be two GP Fellowship Programs that lead to Fellowship and vocational recognition:
The ACRRM and the RACGP Fellowship Program Placement Guidelines are currently being updated. Thank you for your patience as we work closely with the ACRRM and RACGP to finalise the implementation of these Programs.

To register your interest in the Fellowship Programs please contact ACRRM at acrrm@acrrm.org.au or the RACGP at racgp@racgp.org.au for further information.
    The Government will also support non-VR doctors to achieve Fellowship by providing a subsidy to the GP colleges to support their training needs under the Non-VR Fellowship Support Program (PDF 288 KB).

    Transition to New Arrangements

    Transition of the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program from the Commonwealth Department of Health to the GP Colleges will be staged between 2019 and 2021, with the RACGP and ACRRM assuming full responsibility for the program by 2022.

    The AGPT Program and Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) will become sub-streams of the Colleges’ Fellowship Programs at that time. Trainees on the AGPT program, the RVTS and the ACRRM Independent Pathway (IP) will be able to continue to train as planned without any material impacts.

    Trainees will be transitioned to the new Fellowship programs by their training administrator in due course.

    The 3GA programs that currently provide non–VR doctors pursuing Fellowship (of either College) access to Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) GP Items outside the above-mentioned programs will cease by 30 June 2023. These doctors must attain Fellowship or join a college-led Fellowship Program to retain access to the highest value MBS GP items beyond this date. Practitioners may continue to use their Medicare Provider Numbers until that time (subject to continuing to meet the requirements of their enrolled program).


    Access to MBS

    To access the MBS, doctors need to be a specialist GP with vocational recognition or be participating in an approved placement under a program identified in section 3GA of the Health Insurance Act 1973 (the Act).

    The new approved programs under section 3GA of the Act are:

    Fellowship Program Structure

    The two Fellowship Programs offer flexibility to doctors through multiple training streams.
    Further information is available in the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine Fellowship Program Placement Guidelines.

    ACRRM Fellowship Program Placement Guidelines (Word 170 KB)
    ACRRM Fellowship Program Placement Guidelines (PDF 789 KB)

    Further information is available in the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Fellowship Program Placement Guidelines.

    RACGP Fellowship Program Placement Guidelines (Word 181 KB)
    RACGP Fellowship Program Placement Guidelines (PDF 822 KB)

    The ACRRM and the RACGP Fellowship Program Placement Guidelines are currently being updated. Thank you for your patience as we work closely with the ACRRM and RACGP to finalise the implementation of these Programs.

    To register your interest in the Fellowship Programs please contact ACRRM at acrrm@acrrm.org.au or the RACGP at racgp@racgp.org.au for further information.

    There are different eligibility and entrance requirements for each program. Further information is available on the two GP college websites.

    Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program

    This program is a fully Commonwealth funded initiative providing training for registrars towards fellowship and vocational recognition. Participants train for three to four years in urban, regional and rural locations throughout Australia. The Commonwealth funds 1,500 AGPT program training places per year across both GP College Fellowship programs.

    For more information please visit www.agpt.com.au.

    Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS)

    The RVTS is a fully Commonwealth funded initiative that provides an alternative route to vocational recognition for doctors working in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS), single doctor towns or regional areas where the medical services would be substantially compromised by the departure of that doctor to undertake training. Participants train for three or four years through structured distance education and supervision to doctors while they continue to provide general medical services. The Commonwealth funds 32 commencing places per year, ten of which are situated in ACCHS.

    For more information please visit www.rvts.org.au/

    Independent Pathway (IP)

    The IP is a structured but flexible training and education program administered by ACRRM. Successful completion of the program will result in the ACRRM Fellowship. Participants of the IP may be eligible for a subsidy under the Non-VR Fellowship Support Program (Program title is link to relevant fact sheet).

    For more information please visit www.acrrm.org.au/training-towards-fellowship/overview-of-fellowship-training/training-pathways/acrrm-independent-pathway

    Practice Experience Program (PEP)

    The PEP is a self-directed education program designed to support non-VR doctors on their pathway to RACGP Fellowship. The PEP will commence on 1 January 2019. Participants of the PEP may be eligible for a subsidy under the Non-VR Fellowship Support Program (PDF 152 KB).

    For more information please visit www.racgp.org.au/education/imgs/fellowship-pathways/practice-experience-program

    Where can I get more information?

    www.racgp.org.au/education/registrars/fellowship-pathways
    www.acrrm.org.au/training-towards-fellowship

    Download a copy of the General Practice Fellowship Programs Fact Sheet (PDF 118 KB)

    Non-Vocationally Registered Fellowship Support Program

    The Non-Vocationally Registered (Non-VR) Fellowship Support Program (FSP) was announced as part of the 2018-19 Stronger Rural Health Strategy: Streamlining General Practice (GP) Training Budget Measure.

    The Non-VR FSP will provide a subsidy to assist medical practitioners to gain Fellowship and vocational registration as a specialist general practitioner. The Commonwealth will provide a contribution for participants’ training, with additional costs to be funded by participants.

    The Non-VR FSP will be administered by the two General Practice (GP) Colleges. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) will deliver the Non-VR FSP through their Practice Experience Program (PEP) and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) will deliver the Non-VR FSP through their Independent Pathway (IP).

    Why is this important?

    On 1 July 2018, a new Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) rebate structure for GPs was introduced for non-VR doctors. This new structure means non-VR doctors can claim 80% of the equivalent VR GP item for services. This change was made to better recognise the level of GP expertise.

    Some existing Non-VR medical practitioners can claim the full general practice items by participating in an Other Medical Practitioners (OMPs) Program. OMPs participants will be grandfathered for up to five years over which time current arrangements will remain in place. This workforce must attain Fellowship or join a Fellowship program through the Colleges to maintain access to the highest tier MBS items after the grandfathering period. The Non-VR FSP provides a supported pathway to Fellowship through the GP colleges’ Fellowship Programs for these doctors.

    Who will benefit?

    New and continuing Non-VR medical practitioners will be supported to achieve VR status in general practice.

    Communities across Australia will benefit by having access to a greater number of doctors with specialist general practice qualifications. Patients seeing a VR doctor can feel confident that they are receiving high quality care as their treating doctor will have met the quality standard required by the GP Colleges. The program will ensure there is no disruption to existing communities as doctors accessing the program can undertake their training and attain Fellowship qualifications while continuing to practice and provide services to the Australian community in their existing locations.

    When will the initiative commence?

    The Non-VR FSP will commence on 1 January 2019.

    Program Eligibility

    The Non-VR FSP will be administered by the RACGP through their PEP and by ACRRM through their IP. Non-VR medical practitioners interested in applying should refer to the relevant College’s website for information on eligibility requirements and how to apply.

    Further Information


    Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine: https://www.acrrm.org.au/training-towards-fellowship/overview-of-fellowship-training/training-pathways/acrrm-independent-pathway/non-vocationally-registered-support-program
    Royal Australian College of General Practitioners: https://www.racgp.org.au/education/imgs/fellowship-pathways/practice-experience-program

    Download a copy of the Non-VR FSP Fact Sheet (PDF 288 KB)

    Incentives for GPs

    Medicare incentives

    Medicare, Australia’s universal public health system, runs incentive programs for GPs. These schemes help doctors maintain a high standard of healthcare for their patients, while providing for the financial considerations of the doctor’s business.

    Practice Incentives Program (PIP)

    Rural Health Workforce Strategy

    The Australian Government's Rural Health Workforce Strategy (RHWS) is not only about getting doctors to work in regional and remote Australia - it's also about providing incentives so that doctors working in these areas will receive ongoing support.