AHPRA slashes processing time in a bid to get overseas doctors to Australia

IMG doctors in Australia

AHPRA, the registration board for health practitioners in Australia, has this week announced some exciting changes to their process to speed up the process of granting international applicants their registration. They’re now estimating that an application could be approved in as little as seven days!

Like many countries around the world, Australia is suffering from shortages of candidates in lots of industries, but in particular within medicine. Up until now, the process to bring overseas doctors into the country has been long, complex, and frustrating (although our service helps out international doctors to navigate all of the common pitfalls and challenges!).

Recognising how vital overseas trained doctors are to the Australian healthcare system, AHPRA has made some changes to their process in order to try and streamline this process. While countries around the world are clamouring to be the destination for skilled migrants, it’s fantastic that the Australian authorities have realised the need to be competitive and welcoming to International Medical Graduates.

International healthcare workers are critical to the running of the Australian system with approximately half of all registered practitioners (across all disciplines) having been born outside of Australia. The number of International Medical Graduates applying to work in Australia has bounced back to pre-pandemic levels with a 41% increase in last year alone. The health workforce as a whole is now 14.5% larger than it was pre-COVID.

And yet, the process of gaining registration can be confusing and difficult to follow. According to AHPRA, around 60% of applications submitted for registration are missing some critical information they require in order to process it.

This is why it’s a great idea to use an agency who is familiar with the registration process to assist you in your application as we can make sure your application is complete and correct the first time.

AHPRA has taken steps to adjust how they approach these applications, put more case officers on the front line to manage the process, and stepped up their coordination with employers. All of these steps will, they say, drop the average processing time from around 4-6 weeks to 7 days.

Covid-19 and AHPRA Registration: An indepth look

The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the processes and regulations of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), the organisation responsible for the registration and regulation of health professionals in Australia. Amid the pandemic, AHPRA implemented changes to support the health workforce and maintain public safety.

As the pandemic hit, many medical practitioners faced logistical difficulties in providing the necessary supporting documents for their general registration. In response, AHPRA adjusted its requirements, allowing for greater flexibility and extended deadlines. This flexibility applied across professions, from medical doctors to Chinese medicine practitioners.

For health professionals trained overseas, the Competent Authority Pathway serves as a means to acquire general registration in Australia. However, the pandemic caused disruptions in this pathway due to travel restrictions and testing delays. To mitigate these issues, AHPRA explored alternative methods for assessing competency, such as virtual assessments.

To bolster Australia's health workforce during the pandemic, AHPRA also streamlined processes for provisional registration and fast-tracked applications for registration. This approach enabled more health professionals, to join the frontline more quickly.

In addition, AHPRA launched a digital tool to help the public check if their health practitioner is qualified, registered, and their current registration status. This feature is critical in ensuring public trust and safety, especially when many consultations shifted to telehealth services.

While the AMC certificate, an essential document for international medical graduates, faced potential processing delays, AHPRA worked closely with the Australian Medical Council to facilitate timely certification and registration of these medical practitioners.

Despite these adjustments, AHPRA maintained its commitment to the registration standard, ensuring that all health practitioners meet the required qualifications and competency standards for their respective professions.

The pandemic has indeed reshaped the landscape of AHPRA registration, pushing the agency to adapt swiftly and innovatively to continue its mission of ensuring the public's safety and supporting the health workforce in these challenging times.

2023 AHPRA update

If you are reading this article we published in 2021, the AHPRA landscape has changed in 2023. These changes mean even better news for international doctors looking to gain medical registration in Australia.

In December 2022, AHPRA revealed innovative changes to expedite the registration process for international applicants. Now, it is estimated that registration could be approved within an impressive seven-day timeframe.

As many sectors worldwide grapple with candidate shortages, the medical industry in Australia has felt this particularly acutely. Previously, the process for integrating international doctors into the Australian healthcare system was lengthy and challenging. However, our service alleviates these complexities, guiding international physicians through the process, avoiding common pitfalls.

Acknowledging the significant contributions of overseas trained doctors to Australia's healthcare, AHPRA has streamlined its processes. Amid global competition for skilled migrants, it's commendable that Australian authorities are prioritising an inviting and efficient registration process for International Medical Graduates.

International healthcare workers form an indispensable part of Australia's healthcare system, with nearly half of all registered practitioners born overseas. Despite the pandemic, there's been a resurgence in the number of International Medical Graduates seeking work in Australia - a robust 41% increase in the past year. Our health workforce now outnumbers its pre-COVID size by 14.5%.

However, the AHPRA registration process can be convoluted and challenging. Approximately 60% of applications lack the essential information needed for processing. That's where we come in. Our agency's familiarity with the registration process ensures that your application is comprehensive and accurate from the get-go.

In response to these challenges, AHPRA has adjusted its approach, deploying additional case officers to manage applications and enhancing its coordination with employers. As a result, the average processing time is expected to reduce from 4-6 weeks to just seven days.

So, if you’ve ever considered the move to Australia, now is the perfect time to do so. Let us help you through the process, just get in touch today and we can get things underway for you!

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Sarah Robertson
22 December 2022Article by Sarah Robertson Medrecruit Immigration Advisor