Assessment purpose and process
In order to practice medicine in New Zealand as an independent consultant vocational registration is required in the relevant specialty. International Medical Graduates (IMGs) must submit applications for vocational registration to the Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ). For information about pathways to registration and the application process visit the MCNZ website.
Once an application for vocational registration fulfils the MCNZ's initial criteria, advice is requested from the relevant Vocational Educational and Advisory Body (VEAB). The MCNZ makes its decision after considering the VEAB's advice. RACS is the VEAB for its nine surgical specialties:
- Cardiothoracic Surgery
- General Surgery
- Orthopaedic Surgery
- Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery
- Paediatric Surgery
- Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
- Vascular Surgery
RACS is asked to comment on the comparability of the IMG's qualifications, training and experience to that of a New Zealand vocationally registered doctor in the same specialty who holds the MCNZ prescribed New Zealand/Australasian post graduate qualification (i.e. a Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, FRACS).
If the IMG is overseas at the time of application, RACS is asked for preliminary advice based on the application documentation and referee reports. This advice will be whether:
- the IMG is likely to be suitable for the vocational pathway; or
- the IMG requires further formal training (not suitable at this time for the vocational pathway); or
- there is insufficient information and an interview is required to determine whether the IMG is 1. or 2.
If the IMG is suitable for a vocational pathway, it may approve provisional vocational registration under RACS approved supervision. RACS is asked to interview the IMG soon after they begin work in New Zealand.
If an IMG is already in New Zealand, the RACS is asked to interview that IMG and provide advice to the MCNZ. These interviews enable RACS to explore in detail the information in the application documentation. There are three possible recommendations following an interview. The IMG's qualifications, training and experience:
- are equivalent and s/he will need to complete 6-12 months of satisfactory supervised practice to ensure acculturation to the New Zealand health system; or
- are nearly equivalent and s/he will need to complete 12-18 months of satisfactory supervised practice under assessment by RACS approved supervisor(s) plus other specified assessment tools such as a Vocational Practice Assessment, particular courses/examinations etc; or
- are not equivalent and s/he requires further formal training (the IMG will need to obtain another form of medical registration in New Zealand and then obtain the prescribed New Zealand/Australasian post graduate qualification; or this might be achieved overseas and a further application for vocational registration submitted).
The RACS advice is provided directly to the MCNZ. The MCNZ provides a copy to the IMG when it informs of its decision on his/her vocational registration.
IMGs deemed eligible for vocational registration are required by the MCNZ to enrol in and fulfil the requirements of the RACS' Maintenance of Professional Standards (MOPS) program to demonstrate their ongoing maintenance of appropriate professional standards of knowledge and performance. IMGs are informed of this requirement at the time the MCNZ conveys its decision regarding the outcome of their application for registration.
IMGs who obtain vocational registration in New Zealand can choose to apply for Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS). This is a separate application process from the MCNZ's process for registration. However, there are similar elements and some of the activities required by the MCNZ may be relevant to obtaining FRACS.
For more information refer to the following RACS policies: