The Royal Australasian College of Physicians is a diverse and energetic organisation responsible for training, educating and representing over 14,500 physicians and paediatricians in Australia and New Zealand.
The RACP is responsible for the training and assessment of doctors who have completed their medical degree and an internship at a hospital, and wish to practise as physicians or paediatricians by undergoing further training through the RACP in order to specialise in a certain area of medicine. The RACP oversees their training, including positions in hospitals, and written and clinical examinations as well as providing a program of continuing professional development for Fellows of the RACP. Refer to ‘Training Pathways' and Continuing Professional Development for more information.
The RACP is responsible for training those who wish to become physicians or paediatricians. It is also responsible for providing a program of continuing professional development for Fellows of the College. Refer to Continuing Professional Development.
The RACP represents physicians and paediatricians by advocating on their behalf of physicians to governments, health organisations, medical colleges, consumer groups and to the general public.
The RACP believes it has a duty to better the health of all Australians and New Zealanders through development of health and social policy and advocating for its implementation. Refer to Policy and Advocacy for more information.
Until the 1930s Australian and New Zealand physicians had to seek membership of one of the United Kingdom Colleges in London, Glasgow, Ireland or Edinburgh.
In November 1930 a group of physicians met in Melbourne to establish The Association of Physicians of Australasia “for friendship and scientific stimulus”, but the Association consisted of its members only – there was no building or permanent base.
By 1934 the Association Council decided that an examining and executive body College should be formed to i) enhance the prestige of the profession, ii) stimulate interest in medical education and research, and iii) set a standard of professional ethical conduct. The constitution was to be modelled on that of the London College.
In 1937 premises were purchased at 145 Macquarie Street, formerly the Warrigal Club “for gentlemen pastoralists” and originally the home of the Fairfax family. Funds were raised from the NSW Government and public donation.
Incorporation of the College and the first meeting of the Council occurred in April 1938. The motto of Hominum servire saluti (to serve the health of our people) was adopted for the College coat of arms.
In September that year 47 candidates took the first examinations and 41 Members were admitted.
During World War II the Macquarie Street building was used by US Army medical officers for scientific meetings, by the Red Cross for storing bandages and by the RAAF Medical Command for secret meetings. A high wall was built in front of the building in case of bombing attack.
The College’s first scientific journal, Proceedings of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, was published in 1948. This was succeeded by the Australasian Annals of Medicine, later renamed the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Medicine, and now the Internal Medicine Journal.
The first travelling scholarships were endowed by an anonymous donor in 1951. Today there are over 70 fellowships, scholarships and grants awarded annually.
The College Library was established in 1939 and in 1954 it was renamed 'The History of Medicine Library'. Largely through the donations of Fellows, it has become the world’s largest collection of Australian and New Zealand medical history material.
In 1968 the Committee on Hospital Accreditation was set up to consider the training and recognition of specialist physicians, and specialist advisory committees were established from the early 1970s in conjunction with the Specialty Societies. In 1978 the first Fellows were admitted under the new system. Remaining Members of the College automatically became Fellows.
The first Director of Continuing Education was appointed in 1978, and the Maintenance of Professional Standards (MOPS) Program, now the continuing professional development program My CPD, began in 1994. The first cohort included members of the College Council as a pilot study group.
The first woman President of the College, Professor Priscilla Kincaid-Smith, was elected in 1986, and in 1988 the RACP’s Golden Jubilee was celebrated when 4,000 delegates attended the Annual Scientific Meeting in Sydney.
The College began a period of expansion in 1991 and 1992 when the Faculties of Public Health Medicine, Rehabilitation Medicine, and Occupational and Environmental Medicine were established. In 1998 the Australian College of Paediatrics amalgamated with the RACP and the divisions of Adult Medicine and Paediatrics and Child Health were created.
The Chapters of Palliative Medicine, Addiction Medicine and Sexual Health Medicine were established in 1999, 2001 and 2004 respectively.
The first Dean was appointed in 2006 and in 2007 the College Deanery was established to oversee both training and continuing professional development.
In 2008 changes to the College constitution established a Board and a one-College structure.
Today the RACP trains, educates and represents over 14,500 physicians and 6,000 trainees in 25 medical specialties.