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Indigenous GPs in training star at Royal Australian College with 100% exam success

Giovanni Torre -

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners announced a 100 per cent exam pass rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs in training on Wednesday, hailing the "phenomenal achievement".

It comes following the recent results of the College's Clinical Competency Exam (CCE), an exam designed to assess clinical competence and readiness for independent practice as a specialist GP.

In the CCE, candidates are presented with nine clinical cases – four case discussions and five clinical encounters. Four cases involve a candidate discussing a case with the examiner and five involve the candidate interacting with a role-player while the examiner observes and assesses.

The latest CCE exams show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs in training are excelling, with 100 per cent of the candidates passing the exam.

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Council Chair Dr Karen Nicholls welcomed the results.

"This is great news. The Clinical Competency Exam is the final exam on the pathway to Fellowship of the RACGP. Not only are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs in training passing this exam, they are achieving very strong results," she said.

"We took a close look at the exam results, published last month, which found the majority of this cohort received higher band passes of P3 and P4. P1 is the first band above the pass mark, and P4 the highest band achievable, so it goes to show how well these GPs in training are doing. So, well done and congratulations on achieving Fellowship."

RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Censor Dr Olivia O'Donoghue congratulated the GPs in training.

"As Censor of the faculty this warms my heart and soul to see more of my peers achieving success in these high stakes assessment and moving onto RACGP Fellowship," she said.

"It is an honour to be able to support as many people as possible along the way in whatever capacity they need to have the optimal exam experience and enable their success.

"When I was appointed as the College's first Aboriginal Censor in 2020, I pledged to continue support for all GPs in training on their journey to Fellowship and boost the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students choosing general practice. Since, 2017, the College has made various enhancements to supports for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs in training. We have also collaborated closely with the Indigenous GP Registrar Network to improve the assessment experience."

Dr O'Donoghue said the RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health faculty and assessment team have improved the Yagila Wadamba program – 'Learn to heal' in Wurundjeri – a "culturally appropriate AKT and KFP intensive", and that there are policies and procedures supported by the faculty Censor to provide additional advocacy and support through training and assessments.

"Moving towards training and workforce equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs is a priority for the RACGP and a key performance indicator for our training program," she said.

Dr O'Donoghue added that she was keenly focussed on boosting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GP numbers.

"We are making progress, but there is a lot more work to be done. Numbers of self-identified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainees have been steadily increasing. The RACGP currently has 60 GPs in training and 124 Fellows. The aim is for greater than three per cent representation across training and for Fellows," she said.

"I am excited by this pattern in the data as it will help reshape the narrative that the Fellowship exams are insurmountable the first time around. Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainees can, and do, succeed in their first attempts and often with brilliant results. I want to acknowledge the resilience shown by our doctors who may not be successful for various reasons in picking themselves back up, having another attempt and striving until they achieve success.

"This is a testament to the strength, culture and endurance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples."

A separate RACGP analysis of all three Fellowship exams – the CCE, Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) and Key Feature Problem (KFP) – found that since 2018, success in these assessments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs in training have markedly improved. Pass rates across all exams have increased from 46 per cent in 2017 to 75 per cent in 2022.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners is the peak representative organisation for general practice. The College sets the standards for general practice, facilitate lifelong learning for GPs, connect the general practice community, and advocate for better health and wellbeing for all Australians.


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