AMC opens Australia’s first National Medical test center.

Australian patients are poised to reap the benefits of a new, state of the art examination test centre for International Medical Graduates (IMGs).

The National Test Centre, a state of the art facility, is the only one of its kind in Australia and one of only a handful of facilities like it world-wide. It will enable the assessment of IMGs’ clinical skills, using the latest technology and best practices, outside teaching hospitals.

“The centre will immediately increase the number of international medical graduates eligible for registration in Australia and end delays for candidates waiting to sit the AMC clinical examination,” said Professor Robin Mortimer AO, President of the Australian Medical Council.

“It means more doctors for Australian patients – more international medical graduates who have passed robust tests to make sure they can provide safe care,” Professor Mortimer said.

The AMC developed the centre as a direct response to the report by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing, Lost in the Labyrinth, published in March 2012. It will help the AMC make its examinations, both MCQ and clinical examination, available more often to smaller numbers of candidates.

In 2013 the AMC has increased the capacity of its hospital based clinical examinations to accommodate approximately 2,500 candidates. Over the next 12 months the clinical examination capacity will be increased further to approximately 3,100 candidates with the National Test Centre scheduled to take some 1,500 of these candidates. Over time it is expected that the hospital based examinations will be phased out and all candidates will be accommodated at the National Test Centre.

In 2011/12, the AMC received 7,000 applications from 3,400 IMGs, to sit a total of 1,500 available clinical examination places. Once fully operational, the National Test Centre will be able to accommodate all applicants for clinical examinations within 6 – 12 months of qualifying.

The AMC received $2,000,000 (GST exc) capital funding from the Australian Government through Health Workforce Australia to establish the test centre, and provided the remaining $1.7million in funds directly.

The centre has the potential to apply state of the art examination technology to the clinical assessment of Australian medical graduates (through specialist colleges) and to other health professions. It uses advanced technology such as multi-media and CCTV recording capability that is not technically possible in hospital-based systems.The centre is co-located with a high security computer-test facility operated by US-based international computer-testing provider, Pearson VUE, which is responsible for delivering the AMC’s computer-administered MCQ examination, in Australia and more than 20 sites overseas. The centre enables the AMC to:

  • Monitor the performance of individual components of the examination in real time
  • Identify areas for improvement in test design, role-player and examiner training
  • Independently review and assess disputed assessment outcomes/appeals
  • Implement greater test efficiency by using remote scoring of test stations.

The National Test Centre has been designed to improve candidates’ experience, with fewer candidates examined in each assessment.

The centre, in Melbourne’s CBD, was opened by Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, the Honourable Shayne Neumann MP today. It will be named the Vernon C Marshall National Test Centre, in honour of Professor Vernon Marshall, the former Chair of the AMC Board of Examiners and editor in chief of many AMC publications, who has given tirelessly to the Australian community through his work with the assessment of international medical graduates.

There are three main pathways to registration as a medical practitioner in Australia for international medical graduates (IMGs). Information about the standard pathway, the competent authority pathway and the specialist pathway is published on the AMC website and on the Medical Board of Australia website. There are currently about 6,000 international medical graduates in Australia, involved in one of these pathways to registration.

Candidates in the standard pathway must sit both a multiple choice examination and a
clinical examination, which is the final stage in qualifying for medical registration in Australia. Until now, the AMC clinical examination has required specialist clinical testing facilities that were only available in major teaching hospitals.

The AMC National Test Centre is purpose built to conduct the AMC clinical examination outside a teaching hospital setting. It will enable the AMC to improve the quality, efficiency and transparency of its clinical assessments and streamline the delivery and scoring of AMC examinations.

The AMC National Test Centre will also house an advanced, high security computer testing facility, that will be administered by Pearson VUE, the international test delivery specialists responsible for the administration of the AMC CAT MCQ examination. The computer testing facility, together with the advanced scheduling system implemented for the MCQ examination, will enable the AMC CAT MCQ examination to be delivered virtually on- demand.

Additional examination dates for the AMC CAT MCQ examination, in the Melbourne venue, will be available from August 2013.

The AMC’s purpose is to ensure that standards of education, training and assessment of the medical profession promote and protect the health of the Australian community

Source AMC: