It’s time to get Scrub’d up! Order now. 

by Dr. Rashmira Balasuriya 

AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL COUNCIL EXAMS – THE ONGOING STRUGGLE BY DR. AMILA GUNASENA

Flash back to my third year of medical school – we had just started our main clinical subjects and been exposed to our first few intense hospital visits. All conversations amongst my peers revolved around what everyone was planning on specializing in and which country they wished to practice in. This is what newbies in clinical exposure do! As I was utterly clueless on both these topics, I immediately started spending hours online researching and also made frantic calls to friends abroad in an effort to find out more information. This consumed my time in the months to come. After much research, two things became very evident; 1. It was advisable to go back to Sri Lanka to work on my registration with the medical council there and 2. I would want to eventually move to Australia even though this meant I’d have to do two different types of registration exams. 

Why Australia?

My reasons for choosing Australia were very personal, and it made sense to me. Choosing America would mean that I would need to finish USMLE Step 1 much early on in med school as the subject matter would coincide with what was taught at that time, but I chose not to pursue this despite having friends who went on to finishing up these exams years after graduation too. UK wasn’t a country I was interested in moving to either, and from my few encounters with friends and others who were attempting it, I learnt that the PLAB exams were comparatively easier to do, but job opportunities were scarce. At the end of the day, it is also more than just the job; it is also about the country you see yourself living in for the long term, and for me that was Australia. 

My game plan post-medical school

So in the end I came back to Sri lanka with high hopes, worked hard on the ERPM and within a year I found myself spending sleepless nights at a government hospital working my way through internship. I resigned from the government healthcare sector after I finished my internship in hopes that I could gain more experience at the Accident/Emergency and ICU setting before I progressed to do the remaining required exams in order to secure a place in the Australian Healthcare system. 

While working at the ICU, I spoke to my consultants about moving to Australia and was offered some very useful advice on where to start my research. I went on the Australian Medical Council website (https://www.amc.org.au/) and learnt that I had to create an account on the EPIC website first (https://www.ecfmgepic.org/instructions-amc.html) so that my credentials could be verified. 

AMc

Australian Medical Council Website

The website was very straight forward, but required a small payment fee. All my details including my final year certificates from university were uploaded. My degree certificate had to be translated into English since I studied in China. I used the translation authority mentioned on the website itself to avoid any complications that could arise and thankfully the process went along quite smoothly. This took me about 1-2 weeks duration in total.

Once both accounts were created (AMC and EPIC), I was asked on the EPIC website which body I would nominate to receive the accredited report and  so I selected AMC from the list given on the website. Once I had submitted the report to be processed, I then had to contact my university and inform them regarding the forms that would arrive to be filled. The university filled in the necessary details and then returned the forms back to EPIC authority. This took about 6 weeks to complete. Once the report was done, both the AMC and EPIC accounts had my details and I was eligible to sit for the MCQ exam. 

The AMC Website has a pdf document with all the details of the exam and their marking methods etc, but in summary, the exam lasts 3.5 hours and consists of 150 questions out of which 30 are unmarked (the data from these questions are used when planning further exams in the future). The questions are of varying difficulty levels and marks are allocated accordingly – this means you’ve got to try to answer as many difficult questions correctly as possible in order to meet the pass mark of 250. This part of the exam is done via a computer administered program and cannot be done in Sri Lanka. Locations are available on the AMC website.

The breakdown of the questions are given on their website;

Adult Health (Medicine) Adult Health (Surgery) Women’s Health (Ob/Gyn) Child Health Mental Health Population Health TOTAL
35 25 15 15 15 15 120

The exam results are then posted to you 6 weeks after the exam date but the candidate numbers of students eligible for the clinical exam are posted approximately 4 weeks after your exam date on their website – you can basically identify if you’ve passed or failed from this. 

While reading the AMC Website I found some valuable resources that they had listed (however heads up – they did mention that they wouldn’t be liable if any of the material turned out to be insufficient). 

IMG

Here are few of the resources I used;

IMG SOS – https://www.imgsos.com.au/

This website allows you to subscribe for a 12 week intense study program with notes and MCQs, but there’s a lot to read through and it is quite challenging to keep up.

amc q bankAMC QBank – https://www.amcqbank.com/

This is a popular question bank website that people use and they have close to 1000 MCQs with explanations that are very helpful. However, the site gets too much traffic from time to time so it can get slow in the middle of answering questions which can get very annoying.

There are other courses that require you to be physically present in Australia to participate in them (https://www.arimgsas.com.au/product/mcq/) , but make sure you read reviews before you subscribe to any of them. 

In addition, I used Murtagh’s general practice (make sure you have the latest edition of you consider buying it). 

The Post AMC MCQ journey

Once you pass the AMC MCQ, your AMC portfolio will show that you are eligible for the clinical examination and will provide you the option to select dates for this. The Clinical exam has 20 stations in total, but just like the MCQ exams there are 2 stations that are not scored. Additionally, they also have 4 stations where you can rest, drink water, use the washroom, etc. This means that the total number of scored stations are 14, and you are required to score passes in more than 10 of these in order to pass the clinical examination as a whole.

Similar to the MCQ exam there are many bridging courses available on the AMC website that you can read through and apply for. I recommend that you attend atleast one of these before you do the exam, just so that you could have a complete idea of what the exam is like and what the Australian system is like, since it is very different to the  healthcare system in Sri Lanka.

The AMC has offered an alternative path to the clinical exam, which is the “Work Based Assessment program”. Once you have passed the AMC MCQ, you have to contact an AMC accredited hospital/clinic (list available on the AMC website)  requesting a slot in their WBA program and you will then be contacted with further instructions. It is rather competitive to get in to the program and there maybe pre-WBA assessments in the selection process. Once in the WBA program you will be assessed over a period of time and at the end of it you will be eligible for full registration.

Once you are eligible for full registration with the Australian Healthcare Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), you would be required to provide proof of English Proficiency. The AHPRA recognises the IELTS-Academic, OET, PTE Academic, and TOEFL iBT. Each exam has different requirements to be met and more information is available on the AHPRA website.

*** UPDATE ***

Dr. Nuwanthi Nandasiri who is currently working as a GP in Australia had some useful information to add.

“There is a great handbook from the AMC it self which is a good place to start studying.
Courses are very expensive but is good to do one. There are major pathways: Hospital based and GP based.
After AMC part 1, if you have at least 3 years experience (excluding internship ideally) you can apply for hospital jobs straight away. You will have to do AMC part 2 within 3 or 4 years to get general registration.
If someone wants to get into a GP job, again after AMC part 1, if you have at least 3 years of gp experience you can apply for jobs but there is an extra exam called PESCI. Then you will have to finish AMC part 2 within 4 years or you can straight away do FRACGP.”


 

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Dr. Amila Gunasena

I met Amila through a mutual friend and was immediately taken up by his genuinely sweet nature. I have never personally looked into the Australian Medical Council, but when I was asked a question on it during one of my instagram Q&A sessions, Amila stepped in to help! Amila is a junior doctor who graduated from Xi’an Jiaotong University, with the highest score amongst his graduating class. Following his internship in Sri Lanka, he worked as a Medical Officer in the Emergency Unit as well as in Surgical, Medical and Cardiac Intensive Care Units. All medics need an outlet and in his spare time, Amila dabbles in music and theatre. He was a part of the prestigious production of “The Show Must Go On” by the workshop players. He also finds time to sing with the Old Boys’ Choir of S. Thomas’ College and St Francis of Assisi.

Amila attempted the AMC MCQ part of the exam in February this year, but was unfortunately not eligible for the clinical exam. He is currently in “full time student mode” and is working towards completing his AMC journey this year.

I hope this helps you pursue your goal of working as a doctor in Australia. Do email scribblingsofamedic@gmail.com if you have any further questions or suggestions for fellow medics with regards to the AMC exam.

– Dr. Rashmira Balasuriya

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Hi there!

Hi there! Dr. Rashmira Balasuriya is a medical doctor in Sri Lanka, currently training in Family Medicine. Navigating the healthcare system in Sri Lanka is no easy task and this website was created to help guide other foreign medical graduates and junior doctors. This website also helps demystify life as a doctor in Sri Lanka and also combats medical misinformation circulating amongst the general public!

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