Open Access Open Badges Research article

Assessing fitness-to-practice of overseas-trained health practitioners by Australian registration & accreditation bodies

Brett Vaughan12*, Vivienne Sullivan1, Cameron Gosling3, Patrick McLaughlin12, Gary Fryer12, Margaret Wolff4 and Roger Gabb5

Author Affiliations

1 Osteopathy Unit, School of Biomedical & Health Sciences, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia

2 Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia

3 Department of Epidemiology & Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

4 British School of Osteopathy, London, United Kingdom

5 Teaching & Learning Taskforce, Faculty of Health, Engineering & Science, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia

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BMC Medical Education 2012, 12:91  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-91

Published: 29 September 2012



Assessment of fitness-to-practice of health professionals trained overseas and who wish to practice in Australia is undertaken by a range of organisations. These organisations conduct assessments using a range of methods. However there is very little published about how these organisations conduct their assessments. The purpose of the current paper is to investigate the methods of assessment used by these organisations and the issues associated with conducting these assessments.


A series of semi-structured interviews was undertaken with a variety of organisations who undertake assessments of overseas-trained health professionals who wish to practice in Australia. Content analysis of the interviews was used to identify themes and patterns.


Four themes were generated from the content analysis of the interviews: (1) assessing; (2) process; (3) examiners; and (4) cost-efficiency. The themes were interconnected and each theme also had a number of sub-themes.


The organisations who participated in the present study used a range of assessment methods to assess overseas trained health professionals. These organisations also highlighted a number of issues, particularly related to examiners and process issues, pre- and post-assessment. Organisations demonstrated an appreciation for ongoing review of their assessment processes and incorporating evidence from the literature to inform their processes and assessment development.