Non-vocationally registered doctors must participate in a 3GA program to be eligible for Medicare rebates.

The following information has been prepared to provide easy access to information for non-VR doctors, currently on the RLRP and MDRAP progams.

Changes to eligibility for fellowship examinations

The Australian Government Department of Health has changed the rules for doctors who do not hold fellowship who want to work in Australia.

From January 2022, non-VR doctors who do not hold a specialist qualification are required to complete an approved program in order to be eligible to sit the RACGP fellowship examinations.

Approved training programs are listed below:

Application dates for approved training programs

Application dates for upcoming intakes for each of the RACGP approved training programs are as follows:

  • RACGP PEP applications will reopen on 12 April 2021, closing on 3 May 2021.
  • ACRRM IP applications for the July 2021 cohort need to be submitted by 22 March 2021.
  • RVTS applications recently closed for the January 2021 intake, however new dates should be announced soon.
  • WAGPET 2021 intake now closed – look out for dates for 2022 intake.
Closure of the RLRP program in 2023

The Rural Locum Relief Program (RLRP) will be closed on 30 June 2023. All current RLRP participants are encouraged to transition off the program before the end of 2021 or early in 2022, by completing Fellowship exams or joining an approved training program. 

From January 2022 onwards, you must complete  an RACGP approved program to be eligible to sit the RACGP exams. Approved programs include:

  • RACGP Practice Experience Program
  • ACRRM Independent Pathway
  • Remote Vocational Training Scheme
  • Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program through WAGPET

    If you are currently on RLRP and have not applied for a fellowship training pathway, it is worth considering the following:
    • No extensions can be granted beyond a four-year time limit on the program
    • If you are scheduled to sit your fellowship exams, you may still apply for RACGP PEP as backup. RACGP states that:
      • Provided the doctor has the prescribed 4 years of assessed general practice experience, they are still able to sit exams up until the formal commencement date on PEP
    • Any exams passed prior to joining PEP do not have to be retaken (as long as they are within the expiry date)
    • When a participant is on PEP, any valid exam passes they have will be frozen whilst they are on the PEP. Once they successfully complete the PEP, those exam results will then resume the expiration.
  • If you have queries about the cessation of RLRP contact the Rural Health West team.
    More Doctors for Rural Australia Program (MDRAP) Requirements

    As per the MDRAP guidelines, practitioners must fulfil certain program requirements while on MDRAP, prior to joining a fellowship training pathway.

    One of these requirements is to complete online learning modules within the first six months on the program through either RACGP or ACRRM. The learning modules are specifically designed to prepare doctors to work in rural and remote practice locations.

    Failure to complete these within the required timeframe may result in a GP being removed from the MDRAP program, and subsequently end to their access to a Medicare provider number.

    It is therefore essential that all MDRAP participants prioritise the completion of these modules within the allocated timeframe. All costs towards modules will be reimbursed by Rural Health West once completed.

    Another requirement for MDRAP participants is to complete a Plan for Professional Development when applying for MDRAP to outline areas of learning and development.

    MDRAP participants may claim up to $13,600 on CPD training/courses related to general practice to improve their knowledge, skills and confidence as a GP.

    The process for claiming CPD reimbursement under MDRAP is as follows:

    • Identify a course/training that will assist you with your plan for professional development
    • Obtain approval from the MDRAP team by providing us with the title, cost and dates of your course/training. If approved, the MDRAP team will send you relevant paperwork to complete
    • You must provide an invoice and certificate of course completion to receive reimbursement.

    Contact Rural Health West for suggested CPD events/courses or to find out more.

    MDRAP - What you need to consider before applying for permanent residency

    As a temporary resident working as a non-VR GP in Australia, you are subject to section 19AB of the Health Insurance Act, which requires you to work in a Distribution Priority Area (DPA) in order to bill Medicare.

    Once you receive permanent residency however, you are automatically subject to section 19AA of the Health Insurance Act which requires you to participate in an approved vocational training or workforce program (3GA program).

    This transition from temporary resident to permanent resident can cause issues for non-VR GPs who are not on a 3GA program, as their Medicare billings are ceased effective immediately. All too often we are contacted by practice managers who have one or more GPs in this situation, unable to bill Medicare once their permanent residency is approved. It can then take up to four weeks to join an approved 3GA program such as the More Doctors for Rural Australia Program (MDRAP), putting the GP and practice in a difficult situation.

    To avoid this situation, we recommend all non-VR GPs who are not already on a formal training pathway, to apply for the MDRAP program. MDRAP is an approved 3GA program, enabling non-VR GPs working in rural locations to access Medicare.

    Under MDRAP, GPs can access supervision and funding towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD), supporting them to increase their knowledge, confidence and skills in general practice prior to joining a fellowship training pathway (eg RACGP Practice Experience Program, ACRRM Independent Pathway, WAGPET or RVTS)

    To find out more about MDRAP, email Rural Health West or call (08) 6389 4500

    Five Year Overseas Trained Doctor (OTD) Scheme

    Overseas Trained Doctors are required to work in a Distribution Priority Area (DPA) for a maximum of 10 years from the commencement of their medical registration in order to access Medicare. This is a government initiative that aims to increase the supply of appropriately qualified overseas trained doctors (OTDs) in rural and remote Australia.

    The Five Year OTD Scheme is an Australian Government initiative run by Rural Health West that allows OTDs the opportunity to reduce their 10-year moratorium to five or less years. The more rural or remote a doctor works, the larger the reduction in the moratorium. Click here for a full overview of the guidelines.

    Under the scheme, an OTD must meet the following requirements:

    • Complete the required term of service in a location deemed eligible for the Scheme;
    • Attain Fellowship with either the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) or the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM); and
    • Attain permanent residency and/or Australian Citizenship.


    If you are interested in the Five Year Scheme or would like to know more, email Rural Health West or call (08) 6389 4500.

    RACGP Practice Experience Program Frequently Asked Questions

    How long does the PEP take?
    Prior to October 2020, PEP duration ranged between 2-5 six-month terms (eg 12-30 months).

    Those who commence the PEP in October 2020 or January 2021, will be allocated three terms (18 months) in the program.

    Participants who commence the PEP in April 2021 or July 2021 will be allocated two terms (12 months) in the program.

    Who can participate in PEP?
    The PEP is open to both International Medical Graduates and Australian Medical Graduates.
    When can I apply to join PEP?
    There are typically four PEP intakes per year and candidates must apply during the specified dates for their desired intake.

    PEP application and program intakes will be held in:

    Application dates       PEPEA dates Program commencement 
    12 April to 3 May 2021 21 July 2021 1 October 2021
    28 June to 19 July 2021  22 September 2021 3 January 2022
    October 2021    PEP 2022.2 
    January 2022    PEP 2022.3 

    What happens if I have previously passed some Fellowship exams?
    Will my previous exam results still count or will I have to take all exams again if I join the PEP? For example, if a doctor has passed the AKT and KFP before joining PEP, can he/she sit for the RCE after completing the PEP education program, or must they re-sit and pass all three?

    When a participant is on PEP, any valid exam passes they have will be frozen whilst they are on the PEP. Once they successfully complete the PEP or if they withdraw early, those exam results will then resume the expiration. 
    Will PEP administer my provider number until Fellowship is achieved?
    Once a doctor successfully completes the PEP Educational Component, as per PEP Standard Stream Post-Education Profession Section 5.1, candidates will be issued continuing provider number access for three years.

    This period commences following satisfactory completion of the Program's educational requirements, during which time participants are expected to successfully complete their RACGP Fellowship exams.
    Can a candidate apply for PEP and sit for Fellowship exams while awaiting PEPEA/ program acceptance?
    Prior to their formal commencement date on PEP, provided the doctor has the prescribed 4 years of assessed general practice experience, they are still able to sit exams.

    Once they formally commence the program, they cannot sit exams until they have completed the prescribed education program.
    How many attempts at each exam do candidates have whilst on the PEP?
    Please refer to Section 5 of the Fellowship Exam Attempts Policy for further information.
    When can I access A1 billings?
    Once accepted onto PEP, can the doctor access A1 billings straight away, or must they wait to officially commence on the program?

    Participants cannot access the PEP Provider Number (A1 billings) until after they formally commence on the PEP Program.