PLAB Australia. Is it an Alternative to the AMC Exam?

PLAB

For many international medical graduates (IMGs) the pathway to being registered as a doctor involves the Australian Medical Council exams. But for doctors who have worked in more than one country already there are sometimes other options, lik the PLAB. But you need to be careful that you meet all the required criteria for your PLAB to be recognised.

Doctors sometimes ask whether the Professional Linguistics Assessment Board (PLAB) is accepted or recognized in Australia. The simple answer to this question is yes. The PLAB will be recognized by the Medical Board of Australia and this will mean that you are not required to sit the AMC exams. You will be able to apply for registration via the competent authority pathway. As a bonus, you will also be exempt having to prove your English language proficiency. However, it is important to check the full requirements. In particular, doctors who complete the PLAB must also complete 12 months of supervised training in the United Kingdom. If you have not completed this training your PLAB will not be accepted.

Lets dive a little deeper into the requirements of the PLAB. Why it is that the PLAB is accepted in Australia. As well as the other options for not having to undertake the AMC examinations.

What is the Purpose of the AMC Examination?

The AMC Examinations are the main route by which doctors from most other countries can apply to become registered as a doctor in Australia. Without medical registration in Australia it is illegal to work as a doctor.

The AMC exams consist of a written (multiple choice) examination and clinical examination and are set at the equivalent standard as what would be expected of an Australian medical school graduate commencing their first working year in Australia, which is called an internship.

Australia sets high standards for medical practice and therefore, with a few exceptions, we do not directly recognize the output of medical schools from many countries. So the AMC Examinations have been established as a process for testing the capability of IMGs.

So Who Needs to Sit AMC Examinations?

If you have graduated from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, Canada or the United States you are not able to sit the AMC exams. Because you are not required to do so.

If you are from any other country you are able to sit the AMC examinations. However, if you have specialist qualifications you probably want to try the specialist pathway instead.

Also, if you are not from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, Canada or the United States. But have worked in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada or the United States. You may also be able to avoid the AMC Exam process and can apply via Competent Authority.

Notice though we did not say “Republic of Ireland”. If you are an IMG who has worked in the Republic of Ireland before this does not help you avoid the AMC exams.

Read on.

The Competent Authority Pathway.

The Medical Board of Australia recognizes the medical school training systems of the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, United States of America and Canada as equivalent to the Australian medical system and therefore does not require medical graduates from these countries to sit additional examinations to prove that they are capable of working as a doctor in Australia.

New Zealand medical school graduates are treated as identical to Australian graduates. In fact New Zealand Medical Schools are accredited by the Australian Medical Council as well. New Zealand doctors can apply directly for general registration, so long as they have completed an intern year in either Australia or New Zealand.

Graduates of the UK, Rep Ireland, US and Canada can apply for registration in Australia so long as they have also completed the basic requirements for being registered as a doctor in their country. You will also need a job offer prior to applying for registration. So long as the Medical Board is satisfied that you will be provided with sufficient level of supervision for 12 months you can work under “provisional registration”. Once this period is complete and you have returned satisfactory supervisor reports you will be able to apply for general registration.

If You Are Not From the UK, US, Ireland, New Zelaand or Canada You Can Still Come Under the Competent Authority Pathway.

Some doctors work in a range of countries. Countries like the UK and Canada have similar systems to Australia for allowing IMGs to work in Australia.

So if you have completed any of the following:

  • PLAB in the UK;
  • NZREX in New Zealand;
  • USMLE in US; or
  • LMCC in Canada

You are also able to apply for registration via the competent authority pathway and can skip the AMC exams.

However, as mentioned earlier. You do need to do all the steps. One thing that can sometimes catch IMG doctors out is that they have completed all the examination steps of one of these processes BUT NOT completed the supervision steps. So, for example, have not completed a Foundation Year in the UK. Or have not completed 2 years of ACGME accredited training in the United States.

The Specialist Pathway.

The Specialist Pathway is for doctors from any country. Competent Authority or Standard Pathway. It enables a doctor to apply to be recognised as a specialist in Australia.

So its another pathway which avoids the AMC exams. Which in the case of many specialists may be quite daunting as it will have been some time since you have studied such a broad range of medicine.

Rather than going through the AMC examination process. The specialist pathway places you directly in contact with the specialist colleges. Who do a review of your training, qualifications, and experience to determine whether you are comparable or not. If you are found to be comparable. You will be offered a period of registration to demonstrate your performance and you may also have to sit further specialty examinations.

Once again, you need a job offer to complete this process.

If you are not found to be comparable you will have to either sit the AMC examinations or apply for competent authority if that option is available to you.

I Really Don't Want To Do The AMC Exams. Are There Any Other Options?

There is one final option but its not particularly popular as it is time limited, has certain restrictions and is not meant as a mechanism for making a permanent move to Australia.

This option is called the Short Term Training in a Medical Specialty Pathway. It is an option for gaining either provisional or limited registration for a period of up to 24-months to undertake additional specialty training in Australia. This registration category is generally made available to Advanced Trainees or Junior Consultants from other countries who are looking to augment their training experience.

And. Once again. You do need a job offer to apply for the registration.

Barring enrolling in medical school in Australia. There are no other options for not doing the AMC exams.

Related Questions.

Question: Do I Need to Do The Foundation Program to Complete the PLAB Requirements for Australia?

Answer.

It is generally a good idea if you can successfully complete the 1st Year of the Foundation Program in the UK. Note you only need to complete one year.

However, if you are unable to do this the Medical Board of Australia will accept alternative evidence that you have worked successfully in similar posts:


This is the direct quote from the Medical Board documents:

There are two ways in which you can demonstrate that you meet the ‘12 months supervised training (internship equivalent) in the UK’ component of the eligibility criteria for category A (as per guidance initially provided in August 2015):

1. Provide evidence of ‘12 months supervised practice/training in an Approved Practice Setting in the UK’. Acceptable evidence would include:
a. confirmation in writing from the hospital(s) and/or employer(s) that you have satisfactorily completed 12 months supervised practice/training in the UK, and
b. confirmation in writing from the hospital(s) and/or employer(s) that the practice setting is an ‘Approved Practice Setting’.

OR

2. Provide evidence of ‘a minimum of 12 months practice in the UK’2
. Acceptable evidence would include:
a. confirmation in writing and/or certificate of service from the hospital(s) and/or employer(s)that you have had a minimum of 12 months practice in the UK.

You will also need to provide evidence that you have ‘successfully completed the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test since 1975’.

Medical Board of Australia

Question: Will I Need to do an English Test?

Answer. This is a complex question. Its probably best to assume that you do. Even if you are coming from an English speaking country. Until you have established that you do not.

Generally speaking if you can prove that you have been high-schooled in English and studied Medicine in English you will be fine.

However, there are many circumstances where this has proven to not be the case. Even choosing to work for a small period in another country where English is not the first language can result in you having to sit an English test.

For doctors who have completed the PLAB and NZREX. The Medical Board will generally exempt you from the need for an English Test. This is because the PLAB and NZREX include an examination of English.

Question: Can I Count Part of My PLAB or USMLEs Towards the AMC Multiple Choice Examination?

Answer. No. The AMC will not recognize partial completion of any of these examinations as a proxy for the exam here.

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28 thoughts on “PLAB Australia. Is it an Alternative to the AMC Exam?”

  1. Hi Anthony
    My
    question is that how can I secure FY1 placement in England ,after passinng OET,and PLAB? and the next question is that If I work in hospital here in Australia as RMO and meanwhile grab PLAB certificate ,am I exmempted from AMC Clinical?
    Regards
    Ali
    Brisbane

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hi Alireza I’m an expert on Australian doctor employment so I can’t really tell you how to get an FY1 placement in the UK. I understand its a similar process to here in Australia in that occasional gaps in the FY program emerge and they accept IMGs for these posts. I’m assuming from your question you already have AMC Part 1. If you had the full PLAB certificate yes you would be able to apply via competent authority. But I’m curious as to why you wouldn’t just attempt the Clinical here. It would be quicker.

  2. Hi Anthony
    I have completed MBBS from Bangladesh; moreover, I passed MRCS from The Royal College of Surgeons of England. I am eligible for GMC registration after clearing oet/ielts. Is it possible to exempt AMC exam without any further training? In which pathway I should proceed?

    Regards
    Dr MRK

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hello MRK thanks for the question. You would either need to complete the full requirements of the PLAB, including the supervised placement requirements OR go on to complete a Certificate of Completion (of Specialist) Training. Passing UK College exams has no relevance in Australia unless this is part of the CCT.

  3. EVANGELINE CHIKA NJOKU

    Hi Anthony,
    Is it possible for one that has provisional GMC licence and PLAB certificate to do a twelve-month foundational programme and continue the medical practice in Australia?

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hi Evangeline. Yes. if you do the FY1 in the UK. Then you are eligible for the Competent Authority pathway in Australia. You still need to find a job here though.

  4. Hi there!
    Would passing all parts of MRCP help in any way to get licensed in Australia?
    Thanks in advance!

  5. Deepsha Agrawal

    Hi,
    I’m currently in the 6th month of my FY2 placement in the UK. Can I still apply for jobs and get a registration in Australia towards the completion of my 12 months of supervised training. Also, are there any benefits of starting placement in Australia in jan/feb as the academic sessions rolls from Jan to Jan?
    Thanks in anticipation.

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hi Deepsha, you only need to have successfully completed FY1 to apply for competent authority. I’d recommend aiming for jobs out of sync with the academic calendar here as you will find it easier to interest employers. Most of the Jan to Jan jobs go to local doctors.

  6. Hi
    I am emergency trainee in UK currently. I graduated in Slovenia(EU), so do not have PLAB.
    I will not finish specialty training in UK as moving to Australia.
    Do I need AMC exams or would I be eligible for competent pathway as have been working in UK for the past 3 years?
    Thank you
    Lana

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hi Lana, yes you will need to do the AMC exams. You required the full PLAB for an exemption from this.

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Australia has been slowly expanding its medical graduate output. This has probably made it tighter for certain categories of IMGs. It’s hard to get a good idea of the prospects. I would say that the number of positions being advertised that will take IMGs is probably a little bit less than it was 5 or 10 years ago.

  7. Hi Tony, I have 4 years experience in Australia and I can’t seem to het over the AMC clinical. Will the australian experience count towards the PLAB if I start the PLAB exams now in order to apply for the competent authority pathway?

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hi Daniela, it is possible that your supervised practice in Australia could be counted as part of the PLAB -> competent authority process.

  8. Hi Anthony, I just came across your post. really helpful and thank you. my question is are you able to help one get a job over there in Australia since most of the registration process getting through involves having a job first?

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hi Bless thanks for your kind words. I do work directly with doctors to maximise their chances of getting a job in Australia. As you say it really does come down to whether you have a job offer or not.

  9. Hi Anthony,
    Thanks for all the help you are offering to everyone.
    I am a post graduate in radiology from India, now 5 years post MD.
    I have done one year fellowship in neuroradiology from Mumbai, India, and another 6 month fellowship in MSK radiology from NUH, Singapore. I am planning to get GMC registration via PLAB soon. I am interested in working in Australia for long term in radiology. How to go about it ?

  10. Hello sir, sorry for asking a long question but i need some guidance. I am a final year medical school student in INDIA and I wanna go to AUS for further carrer, i came to know about AMC exam that is required to obtain a license, but i read somewhere that its not easy to get a job as an IMG after that exam, so better go for specialist pathway. And then I came to know that PLAB can also be used as competent pathway for specialist pathway in AUS, so if I pass my PLAB exam and obtain the GMC license, but then the problem is there are very few FY 1/2 jobs in UK for IMG, so now my question is can i undergo a non training job for a year to obtain competency, or do i need to go through coretraining training job (CT 1)? please advise me on this or any other way which might be good for me

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hello Manish if you are going the PLAB route to Australian competent authority then you need at least one year in a supervised role in the UK. Preferably this is part of a training program.

  11. Hi Anthony does passing MRCS (UK) give any advantage for migration to Australia..is it helpful to apply for competent pathway..??
    Regards

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hello Gaurav the MRCS (UK) has limited application to Australia. Its only really helpful as part of completing specialist recognition in the UK, in which case you can apply for registration via specialist pathway. It will not help you with competent authority.

  12. Hi there. I am looking to complete my medical studies in Poland. This allows me to do internship in Ireland. If I do the PLAB along side the supervised internship in Ireland does it count as Category A?

    Best Wishes
    Panikos

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