Recency of practice resources

What is recency of practice?

Recency of practice (ROP) requirements are requirements in relation to the nature, extent, period and recency of previous practice in the profession by applicants for registration, including psychologists applying for renewal of registration.

When a practitioner meets ROP requirements it means that they have maintained an adequate connection with, and recent practice in, the profession since qualifying or obtaining general registration.

The psychology profession is broad and diverse; psychologists use their psychological skills and knowledge in a wide variety of professional settings and scopes of practice. Adequate connection and recent practice can be maintained in many different roles. Therefore for the purpose of meeting ROP requirements, ‘practice’ means any role, whether remunerated or not, in which the individual uses their skills and knowledge as a registered psychologist in the profession. Practice in this context is not restricted to the provision of direct clinical care. It also includes using professional knowledge in a direct non-clinical relationship with clients, working in management, administration, education, research, advisory, regulatory or policy development roles, and any other roles that impact on the safe, effective delivery of services in the profession.

The Board’s guiding principles for recency of practice are:

  1. to provide for the protection of the public by ensuring that only psychologists who are able to practice competently and ethically are granted unconditional general registration; and
  2. to facilitate a flexible, responsive and sustainable psychology workforce by ensuring that restrictions are only placed on practice where necessary to ensure that psychology services are provided safely and are of an appropriate quality.

What are the recency of practice requirements?

The requirements are set out in the recency of practice registration standard that is developed by the National Board and approved by the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council. The current registration standard for recency of practice (ROP standard) is effective from 1 December 2016, replacing the previous version dated 1 July 2010. A summary of the differences between original (2010) standard and the revised (2016) standard is available:

The registration standard sets out specifically what is considered ‘recent’ practice and an ‘adequate’ connection. It also sets out the remedial actions that applicants who do not meet the standard may be required to complete in order to become eligible to apply for general registration or to renew general registration.

Psychologists must declare that they meet the Board’s recency of practice requirements when they first apply for general registration and each time they renew general or provisional registration.

Psychologists applying for or renewing non-practising registration and individuals applying for provisional registration for the first time do not need to meet recency of practice requirements.

Psychologists who have practised for at least 250 hours (that’s about 6 ½ weeks full-time) within the last five years will meet standard. Non-clinical psychology practice such as working in management, administration, education, research, advisory, regulatory or policy development roles as well as postgraduate study is recognised as practice for the purpose of meeting ROP requirements.

The Policy for recency of practice requirements (ROP policy) supports the registration standard and provides information about remedial options for applicants and registrants who don’t meet the ROP standard.

Recency of practice registration standard and policy

Document  PDF  Accessible format  Date of effect 
Recency of practice registration standard PDF 
(360KB) 
Word version
(77.8KB,DOCX) 
1 December 2016 
Policy for recency of practice requirements PDF 
(223KB) 
Word version 
(306 KB,DOCX) 
1 December 2016 
Plan for professional development and re-entry to practice - PLPD-76

Progress report for professional development and re-entry to practice - PRPS-76
PDF 
(481KB)

PDF 
(471KB) 
  1 December 2016 

1 December 2016

Recency of practice FAQ

The following resources answer common queries about recency of practice.

Additional information is provided on the AHPRA website.

If this information does not provide you with what you are looking for, please contact our Customer Service Team on 1300 419 495 or send us a web enquiry.

The National Law requires National Boards to develop registration standards about the requirements in relation to the nature, extent, period and recency of any previous practice of the profession by applicants for registration (section 38(e). Recent practice is an important way that practitioners can maintain their professional skills and knowledge.

National Boards aim to draw on the best available evidence to inform their regulatory work. In the last review of the recency of practice registration standards, AHPRA worked with National Boards to commission research about recency of practice to ensure that the revised registration standards are as evidence-based as possible. In addition, National Boards drew on their regulatory experience with the previous registration standards and benchmarking with other comparable regulators. The literature on ROP is still developing and doesn’t yet provide definitive answers to some issues.

The Board will continue to monitor and respond to developments in the literature in future reviews.

It is up to you to decide which option will best suit your circumstances.

You should consider the cost of maintaining general or non-practising registration; whether you still want to use the title ‘Psychologist’ while taking a break (including for any media interviews, professional publications etc.); and whether you want to be able to return to practice at short notice – including any lecturing, training or supervision work that may require registration.

If you apply for non-practising registration, your name will remain on the public, online register of practitioners and you can continue to use the protected title ‘Psychologist’. There is an annual non-practising registration fee which is significantly less than the full registration fee.

If you let your registration lapse, your name will be removed from the register and you will no longer have to pay registration fees. You cannot use the protected title ‘Psychologist’ if your registration lapses.

If you maintain general registration while taking a break you will need to pay the full annual registration fee and meet the requirements of the CPD standard. But you won’t have to worry about applying to change your registration type and will be able to return to practice at short notice (provided you have appropriate professional indemnity insurance in place).

Yes, the recency of practice standard provides for flexibility and enables you to meet the standard over a five-year period. You don’t need to practice every year provided that you practice at least 250 hours as a registered psychologist over the five-year period prior to applying for registration or renewal of registration.

No, the Board will accept any practice that falls within the definition of practice and has not set any restrictions such as minimum hours per week or continuity requirements. So you could complete one hour per week for five years, or 8 ½ hours a day for 30 days, or you could accumulate 250 hours in small blocks of practice at any time over five years.

Psychologists are reminded however, that meeting the minimum hours alone doesn’t guarantee ongoing competence. You are responsible for maintaining your professional skills and knowledge and only practising within the limits of your professional competence. When returning to practice after a period of not practising you should always undertake self-assessment, consider the role you are returning to, identify areas where you may need to refresh or update your skills, and undertake appropriate preparation for return to practice or change in scope of practice.

If you have not practised for at least 250 hours in the last five years or more when you apply to renew your General registration you may be required to complete a period as a provisional psychologist before you can change back to general registration. This will generally involve completing a return to practice program that includes supervised practice, and passing the national psychology examination. The specific requirements are determined by the Board, case by case, and factors such as length of absence from practice and professional development undertaken while not practising will be taken into account. For more information, please refer to the recency of practice registration standard and the Policy for recency of practice requirements.

The definition of practice is broad and includes both clinical practice and non-clinical roles in psychology. You may not have any direct client contact, but if your work requires you to use your skills and knowledge as a registered psychologist you can meet the recency of practice registration standard if you have practised for at least the minimum number of hours in your scope of practice. For example you can meet the recency of practice registration standard working solely in psychology administration, teaching, research, policy, or as a supervisor.

Scope of practice is the professional role and services that an individual health practitioner is trained, qualified and competent to perform. A psychology scope of practice may include clinical and non-clinical practice. You do not need to practise in a clinical role to meet the recency of practice standard.

The APS Code of Ethics, which has been adopted by the Board for the profession requires psychologists to recognise and work within the limits of their competence and scope of practice.

If you are significantly changing your scope of practice you are responsible for identifying any training or professional development you will need to ensure you have the necessary skills to practice safely and effectively in your new role. You may need to consult your new employer or professional peers for advice on what will be required.

The definition of practice in the Board’s recency of practice registration standard which was approved by Ministerial Council is:

…any role, whether remunerated or not, in which the individual uses their skills and knowledge as a registered psychologist in the profession. Practice in this context is not restricted to the provision of direct clinical care. It also includes using professional knowledge in a direct nonclinical relationship with patients or clients, working in management, administration, education, research, advisory, regulatory or policy development roles and any other roles that impact on safe, effective delivery of services in the health profession.

Practice involving activities of a non-psychological nature will not count towards recency of practice, even if they are performed by a registered psychologist.

When questions arise on whether particular work constitutes ‘psychology practice’ for the purposes of this standard, the Board will determine such matters on a case-by-case basis.

Yes, psychologists undertaking an internship program to meet ROP requirements that was approved under the previous version of the policy for recency of practice requirements (1 August 2011 to 30 November 2016 version) may apply to change or vary their program in accordance with the revised policy.

You need to complete a Plan for professional development and re-entry to practice - PLPD-76 and submit it to AHPRA in the state of territory of your principal place of practice, Your proposed plan will be considered by the Board taking into account what you have already completed under the 4+2 internship.

Unregistered practice will not automatically be recognised for meeting the revised ROP standard. Applications from individuals who have not practised as a registered or licensed psychologist in the last five years are referred to the Board for individual assessment. The Board will consider the nature of any overseas practice in a country where registration or licensure is not required or available as part of that assessment and in determining your specific remedial requirements. For example if your overseas practice was in a country where there is no registration or licensure, but your practice was subject to other forms of regulation including a mandatory code of conduct, practice, or ethics for psychologists, and you continued to meet CPD requirements of your professional association or society to maintain membership, then the Board could see fit to significantly vary the standard remedial requirements.

Refer to the Policy for recency of practice requirements for more information.

Yes, if psychology registration was not mandatory in a country but you elected to hold voluntary registration with a recognised organisation that maintains a public register of psychologists, then psychology practice completed in that country while you held that registration will be recognised for recency of practice requirements.

A recognised organisation may be a government department or psychological society that requires a minimum standard of psychology qualification that is comparable to Australian standards. For example, psychological practice completed while registered on the Singapore Register of Psychologists that is maintained by the Singapore Psychological Society will be recognised.

You can meet the standard on the basis of 250 hours practice as a provisional psychologist in your degree. ‘Practice’ includes your practical placements and other activities in your degree including research – refer to the definition of ‘practice’ in the registration standard for details.

You can also meet the standard on the basis of successful completion of another Board-approved program of study within the last five years - e.g. your undergraduate/honours psychology degree.

Yes, the 250 hours only applies to option a) of the three options for meeting the standard that are listed. Option b) – study and option c) supervised practice do not have a minimum hours requirement.

If you are selected for audit, you will be audited against the registration standard that was in effect at the time the audit relates to. For example, if you are audited in 2017 for a declaration about ROP you made when you renewed your registration in November 2016 then you will be audited against the 2010 version of the standard which was in place at the time.

If selected for an audit you will receive written notice advising exactly what you are being audited for and what you need to provide.

The 2010 version of the registration standard is published under ‘Retired versions’ on the Registration standards web page to enable you to check the previous requirements if audited.

 
 
 
Page reviewed 24/03/2017