While many of us understand the concept that a fellowship is the practice of further study in medicine, what does the FRACGP acronym mean in this context? 

Becoming a doctor in Australia is a long and strenuous process, and certainly not for the faint of heart. To pursue a career in medicine, candidates need to finish Year 12 and graduate from a Bachelor’s Degree, which usually takes four years. From there, one then needs to complete a four year postgraduate medical program, before completing a year long internship in order to become fully registered – or almost a decade of study.

After finally receiving their qualification, young doctors are left with another big choice – what to specialise in, if anything? It’s at this point that many young doctors will opt to pursue a fellowship, or advance their knowledge in a particular medical speciality. 

The many academic institutions representing each specialty in Australia often have their own rules, and precise training requirements vary between institutions. A doctor may generally enter specialty training, or a fellowship, after completing the basic medical degree, an internship, and one or two years of residency. 

Depending on the specialty, the duration of a fellowship usually ranges from three to seven years. Trainee specialist doctors (known as registrars) are closely supervised by fully qualified specialists through these years. They sit examinations and undergo rigorous training, eventually being fully qualified once they have successfully completed all requirements.

Completing A Fellowship In General Practice 

When it comes to selecting a fellowship, there are many career paths available to new doctors, with just a handful including cardiology, dermatology, and paediatrics. However, if a doctor in Australia is looking to pursue a long term career as a general practitioner, there are usually two common fellowship options, which help to explain the common acronyms we see behind their names such as FRACGP and FACRRM – but what exactly are they?

In simple terms, these acronyms stand for two types of specialist general practice qualifications, and are completed through the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, or RACGP, or the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, or ACRRM. 

FRACGP – This is an acronym for doctors who have completed a “Fellow Of The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners”. It’s a specialist general practice qualification accredited by the Australian Medical Council. Attainment of the FRACGP qualification shows that a general practitioner has been assessed as being competent to practice unsupervised, and has obtained the highest level of training. The qualification also allows GPs to claim certain types of Medicare rebates; allow doctors to use the letters FRACGP after their name, and be recognised as a Fellow in New Zealand, Ireland and Canada through a reciprocal arrangement.

FACRRM – This is an acronym for doctors who have completed a “Fellow of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine”. Although very similar in nature to the FRACGP qualification and processes to obtain it, FACRRM study is more geared towards healthcare and practicing medicine in rural and remote areas of Australia, and the unique challenges that come with it. Also accredited by the Australian Medical Council, ACRRM Fellows need to have trained and practised in rural areas at some stage, but need not remain in a rural area to remain a member of the ACRRM. 

Many Australians may not realise the difference between non-vocationally registered general practitioners, versus those that have undertaken a fellowship to receive the FRACGP or FACRRM at the end of their title. 

The FRACGP or FACRRM qualification signifies that a general practitioner has been assessed as competent across the core skills of general practice, enabling them to practice safely and unsupervised, anywhere in Australia and in other parts of the world like New Zealand and Canada.

General practitioners who don’t have the FRACGP or FRACRRM qualifications are unable to bill Medicare for rebates, which are otherwise available to specialist GPs. What this means is that as a patient of a non vocationally recognised general practitioner, the rebate for their consult might be lower, but they may also be more out of pocket when compared to seeing a GP that is FRACCP or FACRRM qualified – so it’s for this very reason that patients might wish to pay attention to the collection of letters next time they look for a new GP. 

Starting Your Career As A General Practitioner 

If you’re a recently qualified doctor and are looking for career options outside of working in a hospital, it should come as no real surprise to see that the practice of becoming a locum doctor is on the rise. With increased flexibility and opportunities available, just a handful of the key benefits associated with this career path include greater flexibility, the ability to travel, increased earning potential and ultimately – job satisfaction. 

House Call Doctor are a team of medical practitioners who specialise in optimal at home health care, and provide after hours access to doctors across Queensland. As a wholly Australian owned and managed medical service, House Call Doctor cares about providing access to the very best medical care to people when they need it most, when their regular GP is closed. 
If you’re intrigued by the idea of making your career count, why not register your interest with us to become a locum doctor and build the work life balance that you’ve always envisioned for yourself.