The Australian Medical Council (AMC) has assessed and accredited specialist medical education and training and professional development programs since 2002. From 2002 to July 2010, the AMC process for accreditation of specialist education and training programs was a voluntary quality improvement process in which all specialist colleges had agreed to participate. From 1 July 2010, the process is mandatory. The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 makes the accreditation of specialist training programs an element of the process for approval of programs for the purposes of specialist registration. Similarly, the Medical Board of Australia's registration standards indicate that continuing professional development programs that meet AMC accreditation requirements also meet the Board's continuing professional development requirements.
While this is an Australian process, the Medical Council of New Zealand uses AMC accreditation reports to assist it to make decisions about recognising medical training programs in New Zealand. The AMC works with the Medical Council of New Zealand in reviewing bi-national training programs.
The AMC's Specialist Education Accreditation Committee oversees the accreditation process. The Committee's roles are:
- developing guidelines, policy and procedures for the accreditation of specialist medical education and training programs
- overseeing the AMC's program of accreditation
- encouraging improvements in postgraduate medical education that respond to evolving health needs and practices, and educational and scientific developments.
AMC accreditation is based on self and peer assessment. Assessments are conducted by AMC teams which report to the Specialist Education Accreditation Committee. Teams include a mix of clinicians, specialist trainees, scientists, allied health professionals, health administrators and wider community perspectives.
Scope of accreditation The AMC accredits Australian and Australasian providers of specialist medical training and their specialist training programs which lead to qualifications for practice in recognised medical specialties. Recognition means that the Commonwealth Minister for Health and Ageing has made a decision to recognise a new specialty and, if necessary, approved an amendment to the Health Insurance Regulations, 1975. Click here for more information on the recognition process.
AMC accreditation standards The AMC may grant accreditation if it is reasonably satisfied that a specialist medical program and the training organisation meet the approved accreditation standards. It may also grant accreditation if it is reasonably satisfied that the training organisation and the specialist medical program substantially meet the approved accreditation standards, and the imposition of conditions will ensure the program meets the standards within a reasonable time.
The AMC endorsed revised standards in June 2008, which have applied to all accreditation assessments from 1 January 2009. In 2010, the AMC consulted widely on minor changes to the accreditation standards. Most of these changes were intended to bring specific standards into line with the registration requirements of the Medical Board of Australia. The Medical Board of Australia approved the accreditation standards with these changes on 15 December 2010.
The changes made to the standards in 2010 include changes to a standard in each of sections 2.2., 5.3., 8.1 and 9.1. The notes which accompany the standards have been updated in section 5.4, 9.1 and 9.2.Download the approved accreditation standards, Standards for Assessment and Accreditation of Specialist Medical Education Programs and Professional Development Programs by the Australian Medical Council 2010 (PDF 430KB).
In its standards, the AMC defines the broad goals of education and training of medical specialists as follows:
- To produce medical specialists who:
- have demonstrated the requisite knowledge, skills and professional attributes necessary for independent practice through a broad range of clinical experience and training in the relevant specialty
- can practice unsupervised in the relevant medical specialty, providing comprehensive, safe and high quality medical care, including in the general roles and multifaceted competencies inherent in all medical practice and within the ethical standards of the profession and the community they serve.
- To produce medical specialists with a high level of understanding of the scientific and evidence base of the discipline.
- To produce medical specialists able to provide leadership in the complex health care environments in which they practice, who work collaboratively with patients and their families, and the range of health professionals and administrators, and who accept responsibility for the education of junior colleagues.
- To produce medical specialists with knowledge and understanding of the issues associated with the delivery of safe, high quality and cost effective health care within the Australian or New Zealand health system.
- To prepare specialists able to assess and maintain their competence and performance through continuing professional education, the maintenance of skills and the development of new skills.
Accreditation standards address the requirements for delivery of high quality specialist medical education and training and cover:
- The Context of Education and Training
- The Outcomes of the Training Program
- The Education and Training Program - Curriculum Content
- The Education and Training Program - Teaching and Learning
- The Education and Training Program - Assessment of Learning
- The Education and Training Program - Monitoring and Evaluation
- Implementing the Curriculum – Trainees
- Implementing the Training Program – Delivery of Educational Resources
- Continuing Professional Development
AMC accreditation procedures The way in which the AMC manages the accreditation process, the procedures for assessing individual training programs and the accreditation decisions made by the AMC are explained in Procedures for Assessment and Accreditation of Specialist Medical Education Programs and Professional Development Programs by the Australian Medical Council 2011.
The AMC completed a review of its accreditation procedures in 2011 to ensure that they comply with the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009. It also streamlined and clarified some processes based on its experience. Revisions were also made to accommodate the memorandum of understanding between the AMC and the Medical Council of New Zealand.Download Procedures for Assessment and Accreditation of Specialist Medical Education Programs and Professional Development Programs by the Australian Medical Council 2011 (PDF 460KB).
Periodic reports by accredited training organisationsBetween formal accreditations, the AMC monitors developments in education and training and professional development programs through periodic reports from the accredited training organisations. This requirement ensures that the AMC remains informed of responses to issues raised in the accreditation report, new developments, and issues that may affect the training organisation's accreditation.
Reports are normally required annually.