Substantial Comparability Pathway

The Substantial Comparability Pathway (SCP) is an assessment pathway to Fellowship of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP), open to Specialist International Medical Graduate (SIMG) psychiatrists wanting to attain specialist recognition to work as psychiatrists in Australia/New Zealand. Both new and existing Exemptions Candidates can apply for the Substantial Comparability Pathway. Existing Exemptions Candidates are those applicants who have previously gone through RANZCP Specialist Assessment process and new applicants are those who have yet to go through RANZCP Specialist Assessment.

The pathway involves undertaking a supervised work placement for a period of at least twelve (12) months Full Time Equivalent (FTE), and the satisfactory completion of regular Workplace based Assessments (WBAs) during the placement period, before being eligible to apply for Fellowship of the RANZCP.

Flowchart of Phase II Substantial Comparability Pathway process [PDF; 452 KB]

For the SCP, the categories of equivalence will align with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency’s (AHPRA) concepts of equivalence and will comprise ‘Not Comparable’, ‘Partially Comparable’ and ‘Substantially Comparable’ categories. The specification of requirements for the ‘Partially Comparable’ pathway will align with the requirements of the 2012 Fellowship Program in 2016.

The assessment criteria for the SCP is outlined in a ‘Phase II Assessment Pro forma’ which evaluates and grades training, qualifications and experience, continuing professional development, recognition of prior learning, scope of practice and health systems, accreditation criteria in the country of qualifications and references. A total score is calculated at the end of the assessment and this total score indicates whether the applicant is deemed by RANZCP as Substantially Comparable, Partially Comparable or Not Comparable. The entry score for Substantial Comparability is 29+ on the Phase II pro forma assessment.

A criteria checklist [MS Word; 835 KB] is available as a guide for candidates to assist with the application process.

Application criteria

All applicants who hold the highest Specialist Psychiatrist qualification in the country of qualification at the time of qualification, and have attained registration as a Specialist Psychiatrist in that country are eligible to apply for the Substantial Comparability Pathway.

Essential pre-requisites for candidates to be able to enrol on this pathway are:

  • Hold current medical registration in Australia or New Zealand (or able to be registered at the time of starting the pathway for new applicants to the Specialist Assessment process).
  • Current Exemption Status (for existing Exemptions Candidates).
  • Confirmation of employment accompanied by a position description in a position as a Consultant/Specialist Psychiatrist within Australia or New Zealand for the required placement period. The applicant must be employed for at least 0.6 FTE in a suitable position and have at least 0.3 FTE clinical role. Area of Need positions are also eligible.
  • Statement of employer support for the full placement period and for all required workplace based assessments, including external assessor access to relevant clinical files.
  • Nomination and sufficient availability of a supervisor who holds current accreditation as a RANZCP Substantial Comparability Supervisor.

Please note: If new to the Australian or New Zealand position, the completion of the '3-month Job Orientation: Readiness to commence Substantial Comparability Pathway' form will be required before commencing on the pathway.

How to apply

Your application for the Substantial Comparability Pathway will need to include the completed Specialist assessment application form available on the Forms & documents web page and submission of all of the supporting documentation in the checklist on the final page of the Specialist assessment application form. Please ensure that you submit all supporting documentation single-sided.

Please also refer to the Specialist Pathway Handbook on the New Applicants web page for guidance in completing the application form.

The RANZCP will send the referee report templates directly to the nominated referees for completion and the referees will be required to submit the completed reports directly to the RANZCP. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you have submitted your complete application, with details of your three nominated referees, to the RANZCP as soon as possible to allow adequate time for the three reports to be completed and submitted to the RANZCP by the closing date.

Existing Exemptions Candidates

All existing Exemptions Candidates who wish to be considered for the Substantial Comparability Pathway and meet the application criteria will need to have their comparability re-assessed by CSIMGE under the new assessment process.

Existing Exemptions Candidates applying for the Substantial Comparability Pathway, but not accepted on the Substantial Comparability Pathway, will continue as either Category I or Category II Exemption Status on the Specialist Pathway to Fellowship of the RANZCP.

Existing Exemptions Candidates will be required to submit the completed Specialist assessment application form, payment of the relevant fee, and all of the following supporting documentation.

Assessment of existing Exemptions Candidates

Existing Exemptions Candidates will be assessed for the Substantial Comparability Pathway by the CSIMGE via a paper-based assessment however in certain cases the CSIMGE may request an interview as well.

All applicants (new and existing) do have the option of choosing to proceed to RANZCP Fellowship via the Specialist Pathway (this involves examinations rather than workplace based assessments) if they prefer. However, candidates cannot be proceeding to RANZCP Fellowship on both the Specialist Pathway and Substantial Comparability Pathway at the same time. Candidates are required to choose either the Specialist Pathway or the Substantial Comparability Pathway.

New Applicants

All new Substantial Comparability Pathway applicants will be assessed by the State Assessment Panels, a panel of senior psychiatrists (RANZCP Fellows) in each state, as well as the Committee for Specialist International Medical Graduate Education, using the Phase II Assessment Pro Forma.

New applicants are required to submit the completed Specialist assessment application form, the relevant fee (see below), and all of the supporting documentation listed in the checklist on the final page of the application form. It is important to note that all three referee reports will need to have been obtained by the closing date for applications to be submitted for assessment.

New applicants will be required to have a full assessment, including a paper-based assessment and an interview.

Fees for new and existing applicants

An administrative fee is payable at the time of submitting the application.

An assessment fee to cover the State Assessment Panel and CSIMGE assessments will apply to new applicants upon confirmation of a complete application. There is no Application Assessment fee charged for existing Exemptions Candidates who hold current Exemption Status.

An Incomplete Application Fee is charged for incomplete or incorrect applications.

If accepted onto the Substantial Comparability Pathway a placement fee is payable upon acceptance of the offer. An outstanding payment of the Placement Fee may cause delay to and/or prevention from commencement of the placement.

Refer to the Fee Schedule fore fees charged, and the Refund Schedule upon withdrawal of application and/or placement.

2014 Fee Schedule [PDF; 100 KB]
2014 Refund Schedule [PDF; 47 KB]

The new fee schedule for all applications will apply from 1 January 2015.

2015 SIMG Fee Schedule [PDF; 42 KB]
2015 SIMG Refund Schedule [PDF; 38 KB]


The SCP placement will commence as part of a cohort of candidates on a set date.   The next cohort is anticipated to start in late 2015, however an exact date has not yet been set. 

All the conditions for a SCP placement, including employment, supervision and registration requirements need to be met by the start date of the placement. If these cannot be met then deferral of the placement to the next cohort start date may result. 

SCP candidates will undertake 12 months of workplace based assessments. Some additional training and experience requirements may be requested and these will be stated in the outcome letter. Candidates will be issued with an Assessment Schedule (including assessment due dates) prior to commencing the placement as outlined below.

Stage Assessment
Start 3 month job orientation complete
2 months Formative Case based Discussion
Supervisor’s Report #1
3 months Summative Case based Discussion  #1
6 months Summative Case based Discussion #2 
360° Feedback
Supervisor’s Report #2
9 months Summative Case based Discussion #3
10 months Supervisor’s Report #3
12 months Supervisor and Employer End of Placement Declaration

The expected time for completion of the placement is 12 months; however this may be extended for an additional 3 months to accommodate supplementary assessments, remediation plans and exceptional circumstances.

Further information regarding the Workplace based Assessments (WBAs) to be completed during the Substantial Comparability Pathway is available in the Handbook for Workplace Based Assessments [PDF; 288 KB].

Workplace based Assessment tools

The following documents will be commonly required for completion and approval of the WBAs.

Formative Case based Discussion Completion Form [MS Word; 647 KB]

Supervisor Report Form [MS Word; 130 KB]

Case based Discussion Rating Form [MS Word; 141 KB]

Case based Discussion Final Assessment Form [PDF; 57 KB]

Case based Discussion Patient Information and Consent Form [MS Word; 679 KB]

Case based Discussion Incident Report Form [MS Word; 78 KB]
For Substantial Comparability candidates, Supervisors or Assessors to report any concerning incidents they may have with a Case based Discussion.

360 Feedback instructions [MS Word; 90 KB]

360 Feedback Form A [MS Word; 128 KB]
Co-workers, colleagues and community contacts to complete.

360 Feedback Form B [MS Word; 101 KB]
Patients/family/carers to complete.

360 Feedback Form C [MS Word; 128 KB]
Substantial Comparability candidate to complete self-assessment.

Supervisor and Employer Declaration Form [MS Word; 71 KB]

Assessor training

If you are interested in becoming an Assessor for the Substantial Comparability Pathway to conduct the Case based Discussion (CbD) assessments, please express an interest by emailing a brief CV to Specialist International Medical Graduate Education: comparability@ranzcp.org. The major requirements for prequalification are:

  • Fellowship of the RANZCP for a minimum of three years – this should include one year post-Fellowship and the rest may be made up with appropriate prior experience as a Consultant taking into account experience in supervision in training and assessment

  • An interest in and previous experience in supporting Specialist International Medical Graduate psychiatrists.

Expressions of interest will be reviewed by the Committee for Specialist International Medical Graduate Education.

Assessor Role Description [PDF; 100 KB]

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

For more information on the Substantial Comparability Pathway, please refer to the Substantial Comparabilty Pathway FAQs [PDF; 100 KB].

Further information on the Substantial Comparability Pathway can also be obtained by contacting:

Specialist International Medical Graduate Education
Email: comparability@ranzcp.org