Considerations for Medical Students Nearing Completion of their Medical Studies

The Australian Health Practitioners’ Regulation Agency (AHPRA) is the body responsible for administering registration requirements for a broad number of medical fields.

Regrettably, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on current students, placing practical restrictions upon the ability of potential graduates; restrictions which, through no fault of their own, prevent them from being able to fully meet application requirements.

The AHPRA Board, carefully balancing a need for able health workers during the pandemic with its obvious responsibility towards patient safety, has recognised this registration application issue and among other considerations, has determined that it will currently accept the following supervised clinical experience for general registration:

  • A minimum of 40 weeks of full-time equivalent service (the reduction of 7 weeks from the previous 47-week requirement providing for isolation/sick leave etc.)
  • The clinical experience may take place in both accredited and non-accredited positions
  • The requirement for the usual rotations of medicine, surgery and emergency medical care have been waived – the Board will now accept clinical experience in any supervised rotations

Health services which employ interns must continue to provide supervision, guidance and teaching, delivering the best possible educational clinical experiences during these undeniably challenging times.

The Board recognises that a substantial element of this education will likely be “on the job” but further notes that the current pandemic will expose interns to truly unique clinical experiences. It should be understood however that, although the Board has reduced to 40 weeks the minimum supervised clinical experience required of interns in 2020, it has not reduced the actual length of the internship itself.

In cases where the period of supervised practice is less than 47 weeks, but at least 40 weeks, the intern will be required to explain the reasons for the shortfall, with sick leave or isolation resulting from COVID-19 being acceptable reasons for reduction.

For the purpose of considering general registration at the end of the intern year, the Board will accept a report from Director of Medical Services, Director of Training or such other officer authorised to sign off intern reports duly confirming that each intern has performed satisfactorily during the intern year.

It is expected by the Board that interns who started at the beginning of 2020 will continue their internships until the beginning of 2021, when they will be able to apply for general registration. Similarly, interns who started in late 2019 will be required to continue until late 2020.

As the pandemic progresses, the Board will continue to review its requirements for interns; ensuring flexibility, ever mindful of finding simple, practical but entirely safe solutions, as yet unseen difficulties emerge.

For further information, including an extensive “Question and Answer” section, go to www.ahpra.gov.au

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