Specialist pathway to Fellowship

Specialist international medical graduates (SIMGs) who are seeking registration to practice as a psychiatrist in Australia must apply directly to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) to have their existing training and experience assessed for specialist recognition of equivalence to Australian training standards.

To be considered eligible for this assessment SIMGs must first meet specific criteria. Then, depending on the outcome of the assessment process, SIMGs will be provided with one of three possible outcomes: Substantially Comparable, Partially Comparable or Not Comparable. Information on assessment criteria and the Specialist Pathway to Fellowship can be found on the Applying for specialist assessment page.

Flowchart showing process of application and specialist pathway assessment.

Assessment options

There are two assessment options that SIMGs can apply for to achieve specialist recognition.

Specialist pathway 

Under this assessment option, a SIMG's qualifications, training and practice is assessed as compared with an Australian-trained specialist. 

Specialist pathway (Area of Need)

This assessment option is for SIMGs who have been selected by an employer for consideration in a designated Area of Need position. These positions are declared by state or territory governments in locations where there is a shortage of medical specialists. 

Applicants for Area of Need positions undergo the same specialist recognition assessment outlined above, but must also meet the specific Area of Need requirements. Only SIMGs who are in specialist/consultant positions and are in the Substantially Comparable Placement are eligible for Area of Need/Specialist positions. 

More information about Area of Need positions

Assessment outcomes

For both assessment options, the following three outcomes are possible:

  • Substantially Comparable: Applicant will be offered the next available place in a Substantial Comparability Placement cohort, and will undertake 12 months of Workplace-Based Assessments. They may also be required to complete additional training depending on gaps in their training and experience as compared with Australian training standards. 
  • Partially Comparable: Applicant will be offered a Partial Comparability Placement, and will undertake a 2-year modified training program with exemptions for specific types of training.
  • Not Comparable: Applicant has the option to apply for the standard 2012 Fellowship Training Program and general registration must be obtained. 

If the applicant has applied for an Area of Need position, the assessment outcome will also include whether or not this is supported by the RANZCP. 

Further information on assessment outcomes can be found on our Applying for specialist assessment page

Key terms

Exemption candidate    A term sometimes used to refer to a specialist international medical graduate (SIMG) who has gone through the specialist assessment process and is enrolled on the Specialist Pathway.

Exemption status    The exemption status of a candidate refers to the amount of time that the candidate has on a pathway to complete the requirements stated in their outcome letter. All candidates must maintain current exemption status at all times in order to continue their progression towards RANZCP Fellowship. If a candidate’s exemption status is due to expire before they reach RANZCP Fellowship then they must apply for an exemption status extension.

The process for extensions to exemption status and renewal of Area of Need positions can be found on the Extensions, renewals and reviews page.

Specialist international medical graduate (SIMG) SIMGs can sometimes be referred to as ‘exemption candidates’ after they have undergone the specialist assessment process and been enrolled on the Specialist Pathway.