Substantial Comparability Placement

COVID-19 update

A modified Case based Discussion assessment (via Zoom) is available to allow SIMG candidates to meet the requirements of the Substantial Comparability Placement during the pandemic.

Modified Case based Discussion - candidate information - March 2021 [PDF; 198 KB]


The Substantial Comparability Placement is one of the ways that specialist international medical graduates (SIMGs) can work towards Fellowship of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP). 

This placement involves:

  • undertaking a supervised work placement for a period of at least 12 months full-time equivalent (FTE)
  • satisfactory completion of regular Workplace-Based Assessments (WBAs) during the placement period.

After these requirements are completed SIMGs are eligible to apply for Fellowship of the RANZCP.

This placement is open to:

  • new applicants wanting to attain specialist recognition to work as psychiatrists in Australia or Aotearoa New Zealand who have yet to apply for RANZCP specialist assessment
  • existing SIMG candidates currently on the Partial Comparability Specialist Pathway who wish to be reassessed for Substantial Comparability. This option is only available to existing candidates who were assessed under the previous equivalence guidelines and transitioned to the Partial Comparability 2012 Fellowship Program.        New SIMG candidates enrolled on the specialist pathway after 1 January 2016, with a partially comparable specialist assessment outcome at initial application will not be eligible for re-assessment of their comparability status, unless they can provide evidence of additional experiences to satisfy the CSIMGE for it to consider reassessment of the application.

The policy on progression requirements for SIMG candidates assessed as substantially comparable:

Eligibility criteria

Applicants must meet the conditions below in addition to the eligibility criteria stated on the Applying for specialist assessment page in order to be eligible for the Substantial Comparability Placement.

Applicants must:

  • provide confirmation of employment as a consultant/specialist psychiatrist within Australia or Aotearoa New Zealand for the required placement period, plus a position description 
  • hold current medical registration in Australia or Aotearoa New Zealand or be registered at the time of starting the placement
  • be employed for at least 0.6 FTE in a suitable position and work at least 0.3 FTE in a clinical role
  • have a statement of employer support for the full placement period and for all required WBAs, including support for external assessor access to relevant clinical files
  • have nominated a supervisor who holds current accreditation as a RANZCP Substantial Comparability Supervisor
  • have sufficient comparability status time to complete the placement requirements (for existing SIMG candidates)
  • have completed a 3-month job orientation period prior to starting the placement (for new applicants).

Comparability Assessment criteria checklist [PDF; 109 KB] is available to assist applicants in determining the level of comparability of their training and qualifications.

Application and assessment

Applications from existing SIMG candidates

Existing candidates can apply for a review of their comparability status and therefore their pathway requirements from Partial to Substantial. They can do this if they can supply additional information that they believe may improve their overall comparability score. They must also have sufficient comparability status time left on the Specialist Pathway for their application to be reviewed and to complete the 12-month Substantial Comparability placement.

Candidates who wish to apply for a review must complete the Specialist assessment application form [MS Word; 1.2 MB] in full. They must also submit all supporting documents as listed. They should also refer to the Applying for specialist assessment page and the Specialist pathway handbook [PDF; 206 KB] for guidance. A Review of Comparability Status fee applies. Please refer to the forms and documents page.

Review applications will be assessed by the Committee for Specialist International Medical Education (CSIMGE), which meets on a monthly basis. The process will take approximately 8–10 weeks from the time the application is received until the outcome result. Existing SIMG candidates who are not found to be Substantially Comparable will continue on the Partial Comparability Placement to Fellowship.

Candidates cannot apply for a review of their comparability status within 1 year of their initial specialist assessment outcome or of their last review and approval to do so must be sought from the CSIMGE.

Applications from new candidates

Applications from new candidates will follow the process as described in the Applying for specialist assessment page. All new applications will be assessed by the relevant State Assessment Panel and the process will take about 15 weeks from the time the application is received until the outcome result.


SIMG candidates who have been assessed as Substantially Comparable will be granted comparability status and approved to commence in the next available cohort once all the placement and registration requirements have been met.

Candidates are given 1 year from the date of their assessment final outcome letter to enter the country, obtain registration and start their job and the placement. If for some reason there are unforeseen delays in doing this, the candidate must apply in writing to the CSIMGE for and extension to their start date.  Please refer to the Maintenance of comparability status policy, section 5 for further information about delays to commencing the program.

Substantial Comparability Placement cohorts of approximately 20 candidates are expected to commence twice yearly. Candidates have the option of starting their job earlier while waiting for the cohort commencement date. All Substantially Comparable candidates who are new to the country need to start their job at least 3 months before the placement cohort start date in order for them to complete a 3-month job orientation period. This is to ensure that candidates are familiar with their health service, the health system, and the Mental Health Act, and build a sufficient case load. This time is not inclusive of the 12-month placement period.

Approved Substantially Comparable SIMGs can continue to proceed to RANZCP Fellowship via the Partial Comparability Pathway (which involves examinations rather than WBAs) if they prefer. However, candidates are required to choose either the Partial Comparability Placement or the Substantial Comparability Placement, and cannot be on both at the same time. 

Approved candidates will only move to a cohort waiting list when a confirmed job start date (by means of a signed and accepted job contract and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) or the New Zealand Medical Council (NZMC) registration certificate has been provided to the RANZCP. This ensures that the RANZCP doesn’t hold places for candidates who have not yet moved to Australia or Aotearoa New Zealand and have not yet gained the required immigration and registration status to work. 

Applicants who are offered and accept the conditions of the Substantial Comparability Placement will be required to pay a placement fee. Failure to pay the placement fee may cause delay or deferral of the placement.

Refer to the forms and documents page for the yearly fee schedule, methods of payment, and the refund schedule for information about refunds upon withdrawal of application and/or placement.

All the conditions for the Substantial Comparability Placement, including employment, supervision and registration requirements need to be met by the start date of the placement. Not meeting these conditions may result in deferral of the placement to the next cohort start date.

2021 Placement dates

The orientation, pre-requirements, placement start date and end date information for the 2021 cohorts:

2021 Placement dates [PDF; 89 KB]

Placement requirements

Substantial Comparability Placement candidates need to start their job at least 3 months before the placement start date, allowing enough time to complete the 3 months of workplace orientation time required by the College.

This time allows the candidate to familiarise themselves with the new position in a new country and, if they choose, to complete some of the additional requirements such as the Indigenous experiences.

Candidates must obtain AHPRA or MCNZ registration and start their job and the placement within 12 months from the date of the assessment 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

Further information regarding the WBAs to be completed during the Substantial Comparability Placement is available in the Handbook for Workplace-Based Assessments [PDF; 192 KB].

Additional training requirements

If the mandatory rotations or experiences of a SIMG are found to be incomplete as compared with RANZCP training, then some aspects of the RANZCP training program may need to be completed. These additional requirements, usually referred to as ‘gaps in training’ will be determined by the CSIMGE during the specialist assessment process and candidates will be notified of this in the specialist assessment outcome letter.

An example of an additional gap in training and experience would be if an applicant had only 3 months FTE experience in child and adolescent training and may therefore be required to complete a further 3 months of training to obtain 6 months, which RANZCP trainees must have to obtain Fellowship.

All identified gaps in training must be completed and approved before the commencement of the Substantial Comparability Placement.

Extension to placement

The expected time for completion of the placement is 12 months; however, this may be extended for an additional 6 months to accommodate supplementary assessments, remediation plans and exceptional circumstances.

Please note: Any extension to the placement will incur an additional fee.

Workplace-Based Assessment forms and tools

The following documents are commonly required for completion and approval of the WBAs:

Becoming an assessor or supervisor

Fellows of the RANZCP who are interested in becoming an assessor or supervisor for the Substantial Comparability Placement are invited to express an interest to the College.
Find out more about becoming an assessor or supervisor for the Substantial Comparability Placement 


For any queries, please email:

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