Education And Debate

Revalidation in Australia and New Zealand: approach of Royal Australasian College of Physicians

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.319.7218.1185 (Published 30 October 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:1185
  1. David Newble, head (D.Newble@sheffield.ac.uk)a,
  2. Neil Paget, director of educationb,
  3. Belinda McLaren, research assistantb
  1. a Department of Medical Education, University of Sheffield, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield S5 7AU
  2. b Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia
  1. Correspondence to: D Newble

    Maintaining standards of practice and ensuring that doctors remain up to date with medical developments are assuming increasing importance in Western healthcare systems. The language used to express this, however, differs. In the United Kingdom the process is now referred to as revalidation and continuing professional development, whereas in Australia and New Zealand the terms maintenance of professional standards, recertification, and continuing medical education remain in more common use.1

    Within Australasia, only the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has a true recertification procedure in that there is a three year time limit applied to the award of the fellowship diploma (FRACOG). Other colleges give certificates for participation in maintenance of standards programmes that are not tied directly to the fellowship diploma, which is awarded at the completion of advanced training. Most programmes, including that of the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, are based on collecting points for continuing medical education and quality assurance activities. Most do not have practice related components The programmes are all voluntary, except for that of the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. The incentives to take part vary. For example, failure to participate in the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners' programme leads to a lower level of government rebate on consulting fees. Increasingly, hospitals are requiring specialists to participate in order to be accredited to practice. This article reflects on the first five years of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians' maintenance of professional standards programme, which has several innovative components and is currently undergoing internal and external evaluation.

    Background

    The maintenance of professional standards programme was introduced in 1994.2 The college's council intended the programme to focus primarily on the maintenance and improvement of clinical standards and not on identifying underperforming doctors. It wished to ensure that …

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