Medical Board of Australia - Specialist pathway - area of need
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Specialist pathway - area of need

The Specialist pathway - area of need is for international medical graduates (IMGs) who are overseas-trained specialists applying for an area of need specialist level position in Australia.

Under the Specialist pathway - area of need:

  • the IMG must apply to the Australian Medical Council (AMC) for primary source verification of their medical qualifications 
  • the IMG applies directly to the specialist medical college who assess qualifications and relevant experience against the specified requirements of a position in a confirmed area of need.

Area of need is determined by the relevant state or territory health authority (the AMC, the specialist medical college and the Board have no role in determining which areas are designated area of need).

Please note that an IMG who qualifies for provisional/general registration, via the competent authority pathway, may work in an area of need with provisional registration but they are not eligible to apply for ‘Limited registration for area of need’.

This pathway does not lead to specialist registration. IMGs on the Specialist pathway - area of need may also apply for the Specialist pathway - specialist recognition if they wish to gain specialist registration with the Board. The IMG can complete the requirements for specialist recognition while working in an area of need position.

Area of need - The role of the employer

The employer identifies a position that needs to be filled and contacts the relevant specialist medical college for assistance in preparing a detailed position description and key selection criteria. It is in relation to this position description that the college will assess the suitability of an applicant under the Specialist pathway - area of need.

The position description should include the following information:

  • the position title 
  • a comprehensive statement of duties 
  • qualifications and experience—identifying and distinguishing between what selection criteria are regarded as 'essential' or 'desirable'; and clarifying whether candidates must show either that they have practical experience or that they have aptitude in a particular aspect of clinical practice
  • special requirements of the position, which may be due to the geographic location or specific nature of the medical services to be provided 
  • clinical practice privileges or appointments relating to the position 
  • any special conditions of employment, and
  • the remuneration package for the position, including whether the applicant will be providing services that need to attract Medicare rebates.

The employer then contacts the state or territory health authority to have the position declared an area of need position. The employer is expected to demonstrate that advertising has failed to attract a suitably qualified local applicant and that, unless the position is filled, service delivery will be affected adversely. The employer must provide evidence of reasonable efforts to recruit locally.

If a position is approved as an area of need position, the employer matches applicants for area of need positions against the position description and selection criteria, and selects a suitable applicant.

The applicant and the employer complete the relevant documentation, including the visa application, where necessary.

If access to Medicare is required, the employer will need to contact the Australian Government Department of Health to confirm that the position identified as an area of need position is also in a district of workforce shortage. The employer should also ensure that the applicant for the area of need position will be eligible to apply to the Board for ‘limited registration for area of need’ or ‘provisional registration' via the Competent Authority pathway.

Specialist Pathway - area of need:

Specialist pathway (area of need)

Secure an employment offer

Apply to the AMC for primary source verification

Apply to the relevant specialist college for assessment

Assessed by college as suitable for the position

Apply to the MBA for limited or provisional registration

Further information

Page reviewed 28/08/2023