Report on specialist medical colleges data for SIMG applications - Psychiatry (RANZCP)

Posted 12/9/2021 by Alasdair Spinner


The Medical Board of Australia has released its annual report into the medical college's assessment data on specialist international medical graduates' assessment applications. This report has data on each college and includes information such as:


  • the countries where specialists completed training.
  • numbers of total applications per college.
  • numbers per college assessed as "substantially comparable", "partially comparable" or "not comparable" at all. 



This article looks at the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Psychiatrists' (RANZCP) data.  

Naturally, many of the colleges application numbers were affected by the pandemic and RANZCP numbers at face value seem to indicate this. 


RANZCP applications

2020 - 71.

2019 - 85.

2018 - 71.


However, applications received in 2020 was no different to 2018. However, what has changed is the successful outcome percentage. To recap, a consultant psychiatrist trained outside of Australia (SIMG) needs to have their qualifications, training and subsequent work experience (at consultant level) assessed by RANZCP as being "substantially comparable" (SC) to a psychiatrist trained in Australia. This is the only successful outcome available to an SIMG who wants to work as a consultant and be paid as a consultant from day one.


An outcome of "partially comparable" (PC) doesn't allow you to work as a specialist on arrival. It means you do have to complete additional training and sit an exam. As you need a job offer - as a consultant psychiatrist - submitted with your RANZCP application, a PC outcome means your employer's expectations and workforce plans for you are no longer valid. You can only work as a senior registrar with a PC outcome - if the employer is still willing to hire you. Your RANZCP application fee of $6k+ is non-refundable and you won't get the time you put into the application either. This is why I find the following figures so surprising.


In 2020 just over 50% of the 71 applications were assessed as partially comparable. Since the current assessment system was introduced by RANZCP in 2015,  the annual PC number has been see-sawing.  In 2019 it was 36% - down from 50% in 2018 and 2017 saw a drop from 2016’s high figure of 57%. The high 2016 percentage figure makes sense following the 2015 changes.  


You'd naturally assume a steady year on year drop in PC numbers as the new criteria becomes well known to psychiatrists,  to employers and recruiters like myself tasked with advising and guiding psychiatrists.  To see a jump from 36% PC in 2019 to 50% in 2020 is eye opening. Either applicants themselves are not using a specialist recruiter with the right advice or, they and the prospective employer are not understanding the RANZCP criteria before drafting a consultant job offer letter (the one need to submit with your RANZCP application).



I suspect the country of specialist training is an issue. Please note, RANZCP is not interested what your nationality is or where you completed your MBBS. It is VERY interested however in your training program. If you have completed your training program in a country which is not NZ, Ireland, UK, USA, Canada, USA then the risk of a PC outcome is heightened. You'd hope the RANZCP data reflects this list of countries, right? Wrong.


The countries where an applicants completed their specialist training in psychiatry are: 


India 23

Uk 23

Sri Lanka 12

South Africa 4

Hong Kong 2

Egypt 2

Iran 2

Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria  1.


This doesn't mean a UK trained SIMG is guaranteed to be assessed as SC. Nor does it mean a psychiatrist trained in India will be assessed as PC. But I am confident most of the 23 trained in the UK were assessed as SC and most of the 23 trained in India were assessed as PC. 


I can also probably guarantee most of the UK trained cohort assessed successfully by RANZCP, completed their primary medical degrees in India (out of all college applications to all the medical colleges, the highest number of applicants completed primary medical degree in India - 170 compared to UK's 100).


Unlike other medical colleges, RANZCP applications are driven more by the employment market as the job offer is need to apply.  71 jobs were obviously filled at some point in late 2019 or in 2020 but 50% would then need to be re-advertised - major head and heartaches for all involved in the employer recruitment process!! Theoretically, all easily avoidable with a close cross reference of the RANZCP criteria and a psychiatrist's training. 


If you would like more information about the RANZCP criteria and scoring system please do not hesitate to contact me. Happy to hear your comments & experiences as well.


- Alasdair Spinner



Hi Alastair I was working from 2002 to 2012 as consultant child psychiatrist in Australia and did my advance training in child psychiatry from Australia from 1999 to 2001. Because RANZCP did not extend or exempt me from taking examination, I had to go to New Zealand. Since then I am working as consultant here in NZ. Is any thing changed with RANZCP? Now I am a New Zealand citizen Iand Australian citizen as well. I believe there is a lot of demand for child psychiatrists. Waiting for your repl;y Regards Ashok
Posted on November 02, 2021 by Dr Ashok Abhyankar

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