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19 Oct 2015

There are many reasons, apart from retirement, why a medical practitioner may choose to reduce their scope of practice or limit the time they work at various points through the course of their career.

A doctor with a young family might want to reduce their contact hours, while a medical advisor employed by government or a private provider may seek to ‘keep their hand in’ by practising half a day a fortnight. Even practitioners who have retired might want to continue to undertake activities covered by the definition of practice, such as writing prescriptions and referrals for themselves and their family.

This is a complex issue that AMA policy committees debated long and hard during 2010 and 2011 when medical practitioner registration categories and continuing professional development (CPD) requirements were being reviewed by the Medical Board of Australia.

At the time, the Federal Council concluded the AMA could not continue to advocate for a registration category for retired medical practitioners solely on the basis that they would be writing prescriptions and referrals for themselves and their family outside of a formal doctor-patient relationship.

It was agreed that anyone involved in direct patient care, or acting in a capacity that would impact on safe patient care, and who wants to identify themselves as a medical practitioner, should hold full registration and meet full CPD requirements. 

As well, it was noted that medical practitioners in primarily non-clinical practice roles generally have a direct impact on practising doctors and, as such, should also meet the same CPD requirements as practitioners engaged in direct clinical practice.

The Medical Practice Committee examined this issue again earlier this year following ongoing requests from senior members, and have advised Federal Council to maintain the AMA’s earlier position, proposing policy to formalise the position.

Subsequently, Federal Council has formally resolved that:

  • the AMA supports the registration categories in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law for medical practitioners, noting that the General Registration category affords medical practitioners flexibility to limit their scopes of practice and/or their amount of practice from time to time during their professional life, and in transition to retirement; and
  • the AMA considers that for the General Registration category, 50 hours per year of self-directed continuing professional development is appropriate to ensure contemporary practice, and affords medical practitioners the flexibility to tailor their own CPD program to their scope of practice.


Published: 19 Oct 2015