FAQ: Recency of practice

These frequently asked questions relate to the Recency of practice registration standard effective 1 October 2016.

General FAQ

The revised registration standard applies from 1 October 2016 to all registered medical practitioners, except those with non-practising registration.

It does not apply to registered students or to recent graduates applying for registration for the first time.

To meet the revised standard, you must practise within your scope of practice at any time for a minimum total of:

  • four weeks full-time equivalent in one registration period, which is a total of 152 hours, or 
  • 12 weeks full-time equivalent over three consecutive registration periods, which is a total of 456 hours.

Full-time equivalent is 38 hours per week. The maximum number of hours that can be counted per week is 38 hours.

No you can’t count those extra hours. Full-time equivalent is 38 hours per week. The maximum number of hours that can be counted per week is 38 hours. You must work four weeks in one year or 12 weeks within a three-year period.

The standard came into effect on 1 October 2016.

New applicants and practitioners changing registration type after 1 October 2016

New applicants for registration after 1 October 2016 (except recent graduates – as defined in the standard) must meet the standard when they make their application for registration. This includes practitioners who are applying for new or additional types of registration, such as changing from non-practising to general registration, applying for an endorsement on registration or an international medical graduate making a new application for limited registration.

Practitioners renewing their registration after 1 October 2016

Registered medical practitioners must declare whether they meet the standard when they apply to renew their registration after 1 October 2016.

For example, a medical practitioner with general and/or specialist registration will make their first declaration against the revised standard about the registration period 1 October 2016 - 30 September 2017 when they submit their renewal in August or September 2017.

The standard allows for a medical practitioner to show recent practice over a one-year period or a three-year period. As there is a three-year option, medical practitioners who were registered before 1 October 2016 will have up to three years to demonstrate that they meet the revised standard. By 30 September 2019 and ongoing, all medical practitioners will be expected to have met the standard, based on their practice over the past year or past three years.

If you are audited, you will need to provide evidence to demonstrate that you meet the recency of practice standard. This could include:

  • curriculum vitae 
  • statement of service or letter from your health service/employer confirming the period you were employed 
  • diary/log/appointment schedule 
  • Medicare/billing records.

If you currently work more than the minimum hours and continue to work in the same scope of practice, you will continue to meet the standard and the changes will not affect you.

However, if you are planning an extended break from practice, the changes may affect you - you should review the information on planning leave.

 

Information for doctors who work part-time

Yes, medical practitioners who work part-time must practise the minimum number of hours of practice – these hours can be completed on a part-time basis.

The revised standard requires all registered medical practitioners to practise a minimum number of hours to demonstrate recency.

The standard allows for practice over a three-year period, so you may still be able to meet the standard – you don’t need to work a set number of hours per week or every year.

You should review the requirements in the revised standard and if you don’t currently work the minimum hours, you should start planning now to increase your hours of practice to ensure you will be able to meet the standard.

As there is a three-year option, medical practitioners who were registered before 1 October 2016 will have up to three years to demonstrate that they meet the revised standard. By 30 September 2019 and ongoing, all medical practitioners will be expected to have met the standard, based on their practice over the past year or past three years.

To meet the recency of practice registration standard, you must practise for a minimum of four weeks full time equivalent (FTE) (152 hours) in one year, or 12 weeks FTE (456 hours) over three consecutive years. Working one day (7.6 hours per day based on a 38 hour week) a month is not enough to meet the standard.

To meet the recency of practice registration standard you must practise for a minimum of four weeks full time equivalent (FTE) (152 hours) in one year, or 12 weeks FTE (456 hours) over three consecutive years. There is no standard length for a session. If it is 3.5 hours, then one session per fortnight would amount to 91 hours in a year. This would not meet the standard.

To meet the recency of practice standard you must practise for a minimum of four weeks full time equivalent (FTE) (152 hours) in one year or 12 weeks full time equivalent (FTE) (456 hours) over three consecutive years. Working one day (7.6 hours per day based on a 38 hour week) a week will be enough to meet the standard (based on a 48 week year), as long as the total hours worked meets the minimum number of hours required by the standard.

 

Information for doctors who practise only occasionally

If the only practice that you do is to write an occasional prescription or referral, you will not meet the recency of practice standard.

To meet the recency of practice standard, you must practise for a minimum of four weeks full time equivalent (FTE) (152 hours) in one year or 12 weeks FTE (456 hours) over three consecutive years.

If you wish to prescribe or formally refer patients, you must have a form of registration that enables you to practise and you will need to increase your hours to meet the standard. If you are increasing your hours and changing your scope of practice, you will need to undertake training, have a professional development plan or a return to practice plan. Refer to the FAQs on scope of practice and changing jobs.

If you don’t want to increase your hours, you can change to non-practising registration or opt to not renew your registration. You are not able to prescribe or refer if you are not registered or if you have non-practising registration.

It is up to you to decide which option will best suit your circumstances.

If you apply for non-practising registration, your name will remain on the public, online register of practitioners and you can continue to use the protected title ‘medical practitioner’. There is an annual non-practising registration fee which is significantly less than the full registration fee.

If you let your registration lapse, you will no longer be registered and are no longer required to pay any registration fees. You cannot use the protected title ‘medical practitioner’.

Yes. The title ‘Dr’ is not a protected title. Medical practitioners who have non-practising registration or who are no longer registered can use the title ‘Dr’, as long they do not lead anyone to believe that they are a registered medical practitioner who is practicing.

 

Information for doctors who work in non-clinical roles

The definition of practice is broad and includes both clinical and non-clinical roles in medicine. You may not have any direct contact with patients, but if your work relates to medicine you can meet the recency of practice standard if you have worked at least the minimum number of hours required by the standard, in your scope of practice. For example, this may include roles you have in medical administration, teaching, research or medical policy.

The definition of practice is broad and includes both clinical and non-clinical roles in medicine. If you are using the knowledge and skills you attained in specialist training and/or practice, you can keep your specialist registration if you are practising in your (non-surgical) role at least the minimum number of hours required by the standard. You must also do the CPD each year to meet the requirements set by the relevant specialist college (in this case the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS)).

If you wish to return to a surgical role, this would be considered a change in your scope of practice. Depending on how long a break you had from surgery, you may be required to undertake some training, have a professional development plan or a return to practice plan. Refer to the FAQs on scope of practice and changing jobs.

The definition of practice is broad and includes both clinical and non-clinical roles in medicine. You should add up all the hours that you work for each of your roles that relate to medicine. If the total of those hours is at least the minimum number of hours required by the standard, you will meet it. You do not need to work the minimum hours in each role.

Practitioners have a responsibility to ensure that they have adequate knowledge and skills to provide safe clinical care.

The definition of practice is broad and includes non-clinical roles in medicine. You can meet the recency of practice standard with general registration which is restricted to teaching and/or assessing, if you have worked at least the minimum number of hours required by the standard, in this scope of practice.

The definition of practice is broad and includes both clinical practice and non-clinical roles in medicine. You can meet the recency of practice standard if you work only in medical administration, if you have worked at least the minimum number of hours required by the standard, in this scope of practice.

The definition of practice is broad and includes both clinical and non-clinical roles in medicine. You can meet the recency of practice standard working solely as a teacher or lecturer in medicine, if you have worked at least the minimum number of hours required by the standard, in this scope of practice.

The definition of practice is broad and includes both clinical and non-clinical roles in medicine. You can meet the recency of practice standard working solely in medical research, if you have worked at least the minimum number of hours required by the standard, in this scope of practice.

The definition of practice is broad and includes both clinical and non-clinical roles in medicine. You can meet the recency of practice standard working as a medical advisor, with or without patient contact, if you have worked at least the minimum number of hours required by the standard, in this scope of practice.

 

Information for doctors with both general and specialist registration

You may not be seeing patients as a specialist any more, but if you are using the knowledge and skills you attained in specialist training and/or practice, you can keep your specialist registration if you are practising at least the minimum number of hours required by the recency of practice standard.

You must also do the CPD each year to meet the requirements set by the relevant specialist college.

The definition of practice is broad and includes both clinical and non-clinical roles in medicine. For example, this may include a role in medical administration, teaching, or medical policy.

If you wish to return to a clinical role in your specialty, this would be considered a change in your scope of practice. Depending on how long a break you had from practising clinically, you may be required to undertake some training, have a professional development plan or a return to practice plan.

You will need to decide what type of registration best suits your circumstance. Regardless of your types of registration you must have worked at least the minimum number of hours required by the standard, in your scope of practice.

However, if you are no longer practising in your specialty and you don’t want to do the CPD to meet the requirements set by the relevant specialist college, you can let your specialist registration lapse and retain only your general registration. If you have only general registration, you will still need to complete 50 hours CPD in your scope of practice.

You will need to decide what type of registration best suits your circumstance. Regardless of your types of registration you must have worked at least the minimum number of hours required by the standard, in your scope of practice.

However, if you are no longer practising in one or more specialties and you don’t want to do the CPD for each specialty, you can let one or both of your specialist registrations lapse, and retain only your general registration. If you have only general registration, you must complete 50 hours CPD in your scope of practice.

 

Scope of practice and changing jobs

Scope of practice is the professional role and services that an individual health practitioner is trained, qualified and competent to perform. A medical practitioner’s scope of practice may include clinical and non-clinical practice. You do not need to practise in a clinical role to meet the recency of practice standard.

The Board’s code, Good medical practice: A code of conduct for doctors in Australia, requires medical practitioners to recognise and work within the limits of their competence and scope of practice.

If you are changing your field or scope of practice, you may be required to undergo additional training to ensure you are competent in the new field or scope of practice.

The requirements vary depending on what the change entails:

  • if you are narrowing your scope of practice, there are no additional requirements 
  • if you are extending your scope of practice to an area that your peers might reasonably expect from a practitioner in your field, you are required to undertake any training that peers would expect before taking up the new area of practice 
  • if you are changing to a different field of practice, you will be required to consult with the relevant specialist college and develop a professional development plan for entering the new field of practice for the consideration and approval of the Board. A template plan is available on the Board’s website.

If you are changing your scope of practice you may be required to undertake training or have a professional development plan or a return to practice plan. Refer to the registration standard for more information.

If you are changing your scope of practice you may be required to undertake training or have a professional development plan or a return to practice plan. Refer to the registration standard for more information.

If the new role involves the same scope of practice, you don’t need to do anything. If you are changing your scope of practice, you may be required to undertake training or have a professional development plan or a return to practice plan. Refer to the registration standard for more information.

 

Information for doctors who are on leave or planning leave

If you return to practice after the 1 October 2016, the revised standard will be in effect.

The revised standard allows for recency to be demonstrated by practicing over a three-year period, so you may still be able to meet the standard having had a period of leave.

If you have been on leave and can’t meet the standard, this will not necessarily prevent you from returning to practice as a medical practitioner.

When you submit your application for renewal of registration after the revised standard came into effect on 1 October 2016, you will be required to make a declaration as to whether you meet the standard.

The standard allows for a medical practitioner to show recent practice over a one-year period or a three-year period. As there is a three-year option, medical practitioners who were registered before 1 October 2016 will have three years to meet the revised standard. By 30 September 2019 and ongoing, all medical practitioners will be expected to have met the standard, based on their practice over the past year or past three years.

If you don’t meet this standard, you will need to provide information to help the Board decide whether you are able to continue to practise and whether there will be any additional requirements that you must meet (for example, a plan for professional development).

If you return to practice after the 1 October 2016, you must meet the revised standard when you apply for registration.

If you have let your registration lapse or have non-practising registration and can’t meet the standard, this will not necessarily prevent you from returning to practice as a medical practitioner.

When you submit your application for registration you must provide supporting documentation including information about how long you have been absent and a CV of your practice history.

Depending on how long you have been absent from practice, you may need to attach evidence of having completed CPD or a plan for professional development and re-entry to practice for the Board’s consideration and approval.

If you have two or more years clinical experience as a registered medical practitioner and are returning to practice, you are required to complete the following requirements:

  • if you have had non-practising registration, or have not been registered, for up to and including 12 months:
    • there are no additional requirements that have to be met before re-commencing practice
  • if you have had non-practising registration, or have not been registered, for between 12 months and up to and including 36 months:
    • at a minimum, before re-commencing practice, you must complete the equivalent of one year’s continuing professional development (CPD) activities, relevant to your intended scope of practice. The CPD activities must be designed to maintain and update your knowledge and clinical judgment, or
  • if you have had non-practising registration, or have not been registered, for more than 36 months:
    • you are required to provide a plan for professional development and re-entry to practice to the Board for consideration and approval.

fact sheet on returning to practice has been published to assist medical practitioners.

No, the recency of practice standard is flexible and you can meet the requirements over three years. You don’t need to practise every year, but you must practise a total of at least 12 weeks FTE (456 hours) in your scope of practice over a three (consecutive) year period.

Yes, the recency of practice standard is flexible and you can meet the requirements over three years. You don’t need to practise every year, but you must practise a total of at least 12 weeks FTE (456 hours) in your scope of practice within three consecutive years. These 12 weeks can be at any time during the three-year period, in one block or multiple blocks. For example, you could practise in year one, have year two off and practise again in year three.

The new standard came into effect on 1 October 2016. You should review the requirements in the revised standard if you are planning to take leave after it comes into effect.

The standard allows for practice over a three-year period, so you may be able to have a period of leave and still be able to meet the standard if you practise within a three-year period.

If you can’t meet the standard when you wish to return to practice, this will not necessarily prevent you from returning to practice as a medical practitioner. Depending on how long you are absent from practice, you may need to complete some CPD or submit a plan for professional development and re-entry to practice for the Board’s consideration and approval.

fact sheet on returning to practice has been published to assist medical practitioners.

Yes, if you are registered you must meet the CPD registration standard every year regardless of whether you are practising. You can take time off over the three-year period, as long as you practise a total of at least 12 weeks FTE (456 hours) within a three year period to meet the recency of practice standard, and you complete your CPD every year to meet the CPD registration standard.

If you don’t want to do CPD during your period of leave, you can change to non-practising registration or opt to let your registration lapse.

It is up to you to decide which option will best suit your circumstances.

You can opt to stay registered and take some leave if you can meet the standard by practising a total of at least 12 weeks full time equivalent (FTE) (456 hours) in your scope of practice within a three-year period.

If you are having an extended break from practice, but intend to return to practice at some point, you can apply for non-practising registration. The annual non-practising registration fee is significantly less than the full registration fee. When you decide to return to practice, and you apply for registration to enable this, there will be some documentation that you will not need to provide again, such as proof of identity and copies of qualifications.

If you let your registration lapse you will no longer be registered and are no longer required to pay any registration fees. You cannot use the protected title ‘medical practitioner’. However, if you wish to return to practice you will need to complete the full application form, supply all the required documents again and pay an application and registration fee.

 
 
 
Page reviewed 20/01/2017