Australian Medical Council Guide - Experience and Tips
Salam people, let me start in the name of Allah who’s the greatest benefactor of all mankind. Hope everyone is doing great. I'll try to write as much as I can for the people who are due to various reasons more interested in joining Australian Hospitals for post-grad training as compared to the USMLE pathway.
I am a graduate of King Edward Medical University, class of 2004-2010. I did my 6 months house job after graduation in Mayo Hospital, and after that, i gave my AMC Part 1 in November, 2010 from Brisbane. With the grace of Allah, I passed that in first attempt.
So lets start with the discussion here, but PLEASE NOTE THAT IT IS ENTIRELY MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE AND REASONING WHY I PREFERRED AUSTRALIA OVER USA FOR RESIDENCY.
- First thing in mind that comes with post grad training in Pakistani doctors minds is: Which way to go after graduation? That is a very tough decision that is ultimately decided by the conditions of each and everyone individually, most importantly financial status. FCPS in Pakistan is a very good option provided the curriculum and the training provided, but as for the value of doing FCPS, there is still a disparity between words and thoughts of our administration. They all prefer foreign trained doctors for a specific post regardless of the experience and seniority. Nonetheless, you might not have plenty of options depending upon your domestic issues, so its a good option, if there is no other option.
- Choosing between AMC and USMLE is also a tough decision, Ayaz is an expert on USMLE, as other people also doing or have done USMLE, but the biggest problem with USMLE is of US visa. That has led many people who have done all the steps with good scores to stay in Pakistan for all their life. Visa rules are particularly strict for US esp for boys. They might reject your visa on any basis, even if you have spend years and years in steps exams. That was the basic reason for me planning for AMC. Australian government policies that might change any moment as well due to a huge number of international medical graduates (IMG's) flowing into the country's health care system. But, once you are near your graduation, you can always check the policies at the time of your examination, and can make up your mind accordingly. At the moment, the Australian Embassy in Pakistan takes a formal interview on telephone once you submit visa application and passport via courier, and then they return the passport via courier as well. So you are usually not required to go to Visa Office in another city. However, they process your application only when you are registered with AMC for Part 1 exam. Visa is usually granted for a year for examination and job seeking purpose.
- Having said that, there is another option of PLAB, that is recently opening up for the graduates as well. However, the GMC website clearly states that there is still too much saturation in England, and they can only give you job for foundation year one or two, but they can not accommodate IMG's for training posts, so that was a risky thing to do when i was deciding my career's future, but as I've said earlier, these policies keep changing, so you need to check them yourself once you are done with graduation.
- Doing AMC with graduation, well, thats not possible as they need your medical degree before accepting your application for AMC, so you might have to wait for the graduation to apply for that, but having said that, AMC Part 1 is totally based on clinical subjects included in step 2 of USMLE, so practically, you can prepare for AMC 1 in your final year and can give it in your house job as I did, without wasting too much time.
- Career option after doing AMC Part 1: Please note, full medical licencing with Australian Health Department requires clearing both AMC part 1 and 2 exams, but starting job as a medical officer in Australia only requires AMC Part 1 at the moment, along with a year of house job in your native country. However, there is no house job requirement for appearing in Part 1 exam of AMC. After Part 1 exam, you send your application to various hospitals and they take your interview to select against the available vacancies. So rather going through 3 steps and a long visa application process in US, you can start earning a reasonable living here in Australia after only 1 exam.
- Fee: The first thing that comes in mind is the expenses to be made for AMC. Currently, the visa processing fee for Australian Visa is Rs. 8600 +/- Rs. 5600 for medical examination, if they ask you. However, they ask all the doctors for medical exam, so keep that in mind. Fee for initial application (form P1) is 175 AU $, fee for part 1 of AMC is 2100 AU $, and for part 2 is somewhere around 2500 AU $. Part 2 fee is not an issue as it is at times paid by the hospital you start working in Australia after the part 1 exam, or its even less than half of your month's pay in Australia usually, so it is not a problem too. This can vary, so consult the AMC website for latest updates.
- Please note that there are NO CENTERS IN PAKISTAN CONDUCTING AMC, so you need ticketing money as well as other travel and stay expenses if you are travelling to Australia or any other test location. Please see the AMC website for list of venues and test dates.
- Books to study for AMC part 1: USMLE Step 2 set, John Murtagh's Clinical practice, Annotated MCQ's, AMC Handbook of MCQ's, AMC MCQ pool available for medical book shops, Kaplan's 100 cases of ethics most likely to come in exam, and Made Easy series for CXR, ECG's and Cross sectional Imaging Studies. few online questions and study materials can be available too, i'll try to put some here on this forum too.
- Myth about AMC pathway closing: There is quite a hype created by people working here that Australian graduates are gonna fill the system by 2012, so there wont be any jobs available for the IMG's. This is true upto some extent that the jobs will be saturated to a greater extent than they are now, but Australia is already having their own medical graduates and they are already competing the IMG's, so it'll be tougher in future, but I dont think it'll be impossible. As I said, when you are about to graduate, then check the conditions everywhere to make your decision.
- Degrees for Training in Australia: After a years experience here in Australia, and clearing AMC 2 (clinical exam), you can get GMC registeration to start your residency training in royal Austarlian College of Physicians and Surgeons, or you can proceed your career for general practice and become FRACGP. Both are well paid options and can be decided later on depending on your interest. once done with the GMC registeration, you can also apply for permanent residence in Australia.
Well folks, i'll keep updating the forum Inshallah, and if you have any queries, do write. Best of Luck to you all.
Dr. Asad Khizar Malik