Public Health Medicine

You're viewing the 2023 – 2024 handbook

Program overview

Public Health MedicineIn Advanced Training in Public Health Medicine, you'll explore in-depth specialty training in the health and care of populations, including health promotion, prevention of disease and illness, assessment of a community's health needs, provision of health services to communities and research. You will train under supervision and prepare for independent practice as a consultant. The program builds your skills through work-based learning and assessment tools.

Program updates

The Advanced Training in Public Health Medicine Program is evaluated biennially by the Faculty Training Committee (FTC) in Public Health Medicine to ensure that it’s in line with educational best practice. Changes in program requirements may occur and could impact your training plan. The College will provide sufficient notice prior to implementing any change. You must always ensure you’re following the correct requirements during your training.

Entry requirements

1. Medical registration

Prospective trainees must hold a:

  • full general medical registration with the Medical Board of Australia
  • OR
  • medical registration with general scope of practice with the Medical Council of New Zealand and a current practising certificate
2. Postgraduate clinical experience

New trainees must hold 3 years full-time equivalent of postgraduate clinical experience comprised of:

  • an internship year containing regular face-to-face clinical patient contact
  • at least 1-year full-time equivalent clinical experience in a well-structured position in addition to an internship, with appropriate supervision with regular face-to-face patient contact
  • a further clinical year or 1 year in a health-related field

Frequently asked questions

Public health is a non-clinical specialty. Why is there an emphasis on clinical experience?

Your prevocational training, which is the first 2 years after your medical education, provides you broad exposure to clinical medicine and the Australian/Aotearoa New Zealand healthcare system.

The Confederation of Postgraduate Medical Education Councils (CPMEC), comprised of Postgraduate Medical Councils in each state and territory of Australia and the Medical Council of New Zealand, is responsible for ensuring junior doctors have structured prevocational training with appropriate educational activities and assessments.

The CPMEC promotes competency development in a structured workplace environment and the importance of consolidating your learning as part of your preparation for a career in Public Health Medicine.

What work may be regarded as a postgraduate year of working in a health-related field?

In order to be eligible for consideration, any work in a health-related field should have:

  • been postgraduate work experience that occurred after the completion of a medical degree (MBBS or equivalent)
  • made use of medical knowledge or expertise
  • involved some structure and supervision
  • the person undertaking this work must have maintained their medical registration during this period

It is recognised that work in a health-related field may include settings that are not usually part of prevocational training for junior doctors in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. Postgraduate work undertaken in a public health-related role is likely to be favourably considered.

Examples of the settings outside of usual prevocational training that might be acceptable may include, but are not limited to, the following: health related non-government organisations (such as the World Health Organization) and refugee health providers.

A position description should be provided for any position that is outside of a usual prevocational training setting.

Can locum work be recognised as clinical experience?

Locum work is unlikely to meet the Confederation of Postgraduate Medical Education Councils (CPMEC) criteria. This is particularly the case if the position consists of unstructured training which lacks supervision.

In these cases, it is difficult to determine whether the required competencies and professional development for a prevocational doctor have been achieved through the locum work.

Claims for locum experience will need to demonstrate that training was structured and supervised appropriately. Claims will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Can telehealth consultations be recognised as clinical experience?

Maybe. Telehealth consultations provided by general practitioners and specialists in response to COVID-19 restrictions may be acceptable if your clinical setting included capacity for face-to-face consultations and appropriate supervision.

Time spent working in services that solely provide telehealth consultations, where neither face-to-face patient contact nor appropriate supervision were provided, are unlikely to meet the requirements for previous clinical experience.

To discuss your situation, contact

Can a surgical assistant position be recognised as clinical experience?

No. While surgical assisting may provide patient contact, it does not allow for the development of independent decision-making skills under supervision. The development of these skills under supervision is a training requirement prescribed by CPMEC.

Can a home doctor service position be recognised as clinical experience?

No. Working for a home doctor service doesn’t meet the CPMEC criteria as it is unstructured training that lacks supervision and a structured assessment process.

Is part-time prevocational training allowed?

Yes, as long as your part-time work, which is calculated at a pro rata basis, meets the training period full-time equivalent for clinical experience.

Further information on accredited prevocational training sites/positions is available through the Postgraduate Medical Councils for each state and territory in Australia and the Medical Council of New Zealand.

3. Completed Master of Public Health (MPH) or equivalent

You must have completed a Master of Public Health (MPH) (or equivalent) that satisfies the 5 Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) compulsory core discipline areas:

  • Epidemiology
  • Biostatistics
  • Health Protection (includes Environmental Health and/or Communicable Disease Prevention and Control)
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Policy, Planning or Management

All MPH courses must be an assessed course, not an attendance course.

MPH overview

A Master of Public Health (MPH) usually requires 1 to 2 years of full-time equivalent (FTE) study and is comprised of a range of coursework subjects and may include a research project.

Students must satisfactorily complete core and non-core subjects to fulfil the total number of points required to complete an MPH. Core subjects such as Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Health Promotion are consistent across MPH degrees at many universities in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

The number of points allocated to each subject and the total number needed to complete an MPH varies by university. Individual subjects range in size but typically require 120 hours of work, with time spent in lectures, tutorials, individual study and preparation for assessments.

Compulsory core discipline areas

These subjects can be used as a guide to satisfy the 5 AFPHM compulsory core discipline areas.


  • measures of the frequency of disease — incidence, prevalence, population at risk
  • measures of association in epidemiological studies
  • different study designs — observational studies, experimental study designs
  • bias associated with study designs, misclassification, confounding and effect modification
  • the ability to critically appraise different epidemiological studies


  • classifying health data
  • summarising data using simple statistical methods and graphical presentation
  • sampling distributions
  • quantifying uncertainty in results from a sample
  • working with statistical distributions
  • comparing two or more groups using methods involving confidence intervals and hypothesis tests (p-values)
  • assessing the association between an outcome and an exposure using the chi-squared test
  • using risk comparisons (RR and OR)
  • predicting an event or identifying risk factors for an event of interest where the event is measured on a continuous scale or a binary scale (yes/no) using multiple regression

Health Protection

Environmental Health or Communicable Disease Prevention and Control satisfy the compulsory core discipline area. It is strongly recommended trainees complete both as separate subjects.

Environmental Health
  • current concepts in environmental health using tools of toxicology, epidemiology and social science
  • the consideration of pollution in different media (air, water and soil etc), chemicals and pesticides
  • epidemics and food borne illness
  • the impact of climate change
  • the creation and interpretation of risk
  • environmental health risk assessment and health impact assessment
  • equity in environmental health
  • environmental politics/health and environmental sustainability/health
Communicable Disease Prevention and Control
  • infectious diseases as a consequence of complex interactions between microbiological agents, physical/social environments and human hosts
  • examine how controlling communicable disease requires a variety of strategies to address these interactions
  • the principles and practice of public health surveillance
  • disease outbreak recognition and responses
  • immunisation
  • variety of other disease control strategies

Health Promotion

  • models of health and health promotion
  • consideration of underlying determinants of health
  • key theoretical approaches explaining change in individuals, organisations and systems
  • fundamental elements of successful health promotion, its application to different health issues in various settings, sectors and in different populations
  • overview of contemporary social and cultural perspectives on health/healthcare, and on people's everyday lived experience of health and illness
  • exploration of the role of health promotion in addressing contemporary public health problems
  • assessment of health promotion programs

Health Policy, Planning or Management

Health Policy
  • the nature of health policy, types of policy instruments, policy making processes including agenda setting, the influence of policy on frameworks and theories
  • the role of evidence in policy formation including the significance of the balance between effectiveness, efficiency and equity as objectives of health policy
  • introduction to the importance and process of policy analysis, overview of the relevant perspectives (legal, political, managerial, sociological, ethical, epidemiological and economic) that influence policy selection and implementation across a range of health policies
Health Planning
  • the concepts, frameworks and methods used in prioritising and planning in public health
  • conceptual approaches and key methods used to conduct a health needs assessment, and prioritise the identified needs for subsequent strategic planning
  • strategies and interventions commonly used to address health needs in populations, and the criteria that can be used to select an appropriate intervention
  • essential concepts in the design and evaluation of health programs
Health Management
  • management theory and skills in public health
  • people management
  • strategic and operational leadership
  • managing in teams
  • change management
  • project management
  • risk analysis and management
  • quality improvement
  • management in various settings
  • teamwork
  • conflict management
  • leadership
    • how different leaders practice
    • how decisions are made and how resources are allocated
    • understanding the organisations people work in and yourself as a leader
    • leadership from various perspectives at different levels
    • advocacy and methods for getting public health issues onto the public agenda
    • power structures, people of influence and the characteristics of good leaders
    • the fundamentals of leading, managing and being a member of a team

Frequently asked questions

Do I still meet the eligibility requirements if my qualification is not an MPH?

Eligibility requirements include the completion of an MPH degree or equivalent. Complete a Master of Public Health Mapping Exercise (DOC) and describe how your study addresses the 5 compulsory core discipline areas.

Can I apply for entry if I‘ve been given credit for a subject(s) towards the completion of my MPH?

Yes. Provide complete documentation of the credit towards your MPH with your application.

Can I apply for entry if my MPH was completed at an overseas university?

Yes. Complete a Master of Public Health Mapping Exercise (DOC) describing how your study addresses the 5 compulsory core discipline areas and provide an academic transcript for consideration by the Faculty Training Committee (FTC).

What happens if I haven't completed my MPH when I apply, or my subjects don't satisfy the 5 compulsory core discipline areas?

The FTC will assess your eligibility to apply and contact you with the outcome. You may be given conditional eligibility if you provide information showing you can complete the requirements within a reasonable timeframe.

Conditional eligibility requirements must be clearly outlined, completed and emailed to 

If you can’t meet the timeframes specified you can re-apply when outstanding eligibility requirements have been met.

Where can I get further advice about whether my intended or completed subjects are likely to be satisfactory?


Note: Final decisions about eligibility are made by the Faculty Training Committee following consideration of completed forms and supporting documents.

4. Approved training position

Applicants must have secured an approved training position at an accredited setting before commencing training.

The Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) isn’t able to offer or arrange training positions for trainees. Regional Education Coordinators (REC) may be aware of positions available in their area and can assist you.


Advanced Training in Public Health Medicine requires 3 years (36 months) of full-time equivalent (FTE) training.


Once you've completed all requirements of your training and the FTC in Public Health Medicine has recommended you for admission, the College will invite you to apply for Fellowship of the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine.

See Becoming a Fellow for information on admission to Fellowship.

As a Fellow in active practice in Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand or overseas, you’ll need to meet the annual requirements of the Continuing Professional Development program.

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