Change to resident medical officer (RMO) rotation dates

7 August 2020

Recently the DHB Chief Executives let us know that they have endorsed the proposal to change resident medical officer (RMO) rotation dates. From 2021, all training programmes will start 1 February. 

For the College, the change means those in the GPEP and RHM Training Programme will begin their new training year (or start the programme) on 1 February 2021 instead of 6 December 2020.

The DHB decision aligns New Zealand’s start dates for all RMOs with their Australian counterparts, which will be of particular benefit to Australasian colleges. The DHB’s decision comes following a consultation period where most submissions were in favour of the change.

We have set up a dedicated project team to manage the transition to the new annual start date. We have communicated the change to all trainees, and everyone involved in delivering our programmes. We are now working on the detail of how these changes will affect us and will be communicating regularly with affected parties to keep them fully up-to-date and help them prepare for this change.

Read the full decision document from DHBs.

What’s happening?

New Zealand’s DHBs have decided to change the start date of their resident medical officer (RMO) training programmes, to align with Australia’s dates. The new start date for all training has moved to late January/early February with the 2021 year starting on 1 February.

Because of this decision, the College is adjusting the start of its General Practice Education Programme (GPEP) and Rural Hospital Medicine Training Programme from 6 December 2020, to 1 February 2021 (and late January/early February each year from now on).

Why is this change being made?

Having a common Australasian registrar rotation date has many benefits, including:

  • Streamlining the intake process, making it easier for RMOs/registrars to switch between runs.
  • Allowing trainees to have a break over summer if they wish.
  • It means senior doctors are more likely to be available to supervise registrars at the start of their ‘run’. 
  • It makes it easier for those changing locations (easier at the end of the school year, trainees can focus on finishing their study without the distraction of arranging location changes).

I have applied to become a GPEP registrar, how will I be affected?

Current applicants
We are currently organising placements for the doctors who applied to join the GP Education Programme in 2020. This group will now start the programme on 1 February 2021 (and will be known as our 2021 cohort)

This means College-employed registrars will start their training and their employment with the College on 1 February 2021. Their first income from the College is likely to be February 2021. 

The process of assigning registrars to teaching practices includes many variables and takes some time to complete. Over the next few months we will be working closely with our 2021 cohort to agree and confirm the practice at which they will start their training on 1 February 2021. 

Change of circumstances
We understand that your circumstances may change between accepting your offer and commencing employment.  If circumstances arise which mean you cannot start on 1 February 2021, please immediately contact our programme admissions officer ( You may also wish to seek advice and support from your union (if applicable). 

Christmas leave and entitlements
As College-employed registrars do not start their employment with the College until 1 February, any leave, lieu or entitlements that arise over the Christmas/New Year period will be covered by the organisation for whom you work during this time

I’m a GPEP registrar now, how will I be affected?

Those who started their GPEP training in December 2019 (our 2019/20 cohort) will conclude their GPEP1 training with their clinical examination (16-21 November) and written examination (3 December) and conclude the GPEP1 programme as planned on 6 December 2020. 

As they enter their GPEP2 year, their formal training elements will start from 1 February 2021. Thereafter the annual changeover from GPEP1 to GPEP2 will occur late January/early February. 

These registrars will become GPEP2 as soon as their GPEP1 course requirements are completed, and time spent doing clinical work in between the end of GPEP1 in December and the start of GPEP2 in February will be recorded and count towards their course requirements.

In terms of achieving Fellowship, assuming there are no gaps in your training, we would expect the 2019/20 cohort to be able to do their Fellowship Assessment after December 2022. If they pass all requirements and achieve Fellowship before 31 May 2022, they would be eligible to attend the July 2022 graduation.

Deferred GPEP1s
We will work with all registrars who started GPEP1 in 2019/20 but deferred their training. Typically these registrars re-join on their anniversary date but, as the programme start date is being pushed out by eight weeks, these registrars will now re-join at a slightly different stage in the curriculum. It is possible they will repeat a few weeks upon re-entry and College-employed registrars will need a contract variation to recognise your new start date.

Each scenario will be dealt with on a case-by-base basis, these registrars should email us at to ensure the College is aware of your intentions. 

Practising certificate restrictions
If you have any restrictions on your practicing certificate that state you must start a training programme in December 2020, please contact the Medical Council to get this extended to February 2021. 

GPEP 2/3s
We have extended the cut-off date for completing the GPEP2/3 programme requirements to 25 January 2021. Your official first day of each new training year will be 1 February.

I’m a DRHM registrar, how will I be affected?

The DHBs are working to make this change as seamless as possible. Page 10 of the Decision Document published by the DHBs outlines the proposed dates for registrar rotations. These will be:
o First Half – Monday, 1 February 2021 to Sunday, 1 August 2021 (26 weeks) 
o Second Half – Monday, 2 August 2021 to Sunday, 30 January 2022 (26 weeks) 

The document also outlines the DHBs’ response to several issues raised during the consultation around this change, many of which related to RMOs’ employment arrangements. The document notes the disruption will be felt most keenly by those entering programmes in 2021 during this transition process. Thereafter, the transition between rotations and training programmes should become more streamlined.



I’m involved in delivering the GPEP programme, how will I be affected?

Although the length and components of GPEP aren’t changing, new contracts for those delivering the programme for the incoming cohort will commence from 1 February 2021. This will affect all our MEs and GP Teachers, including Small Group Facilitators, who will complete this years’ contract in early December 2020. There will be an eight week gap with no services required for the College, prior to those commencing a new 12 month contract for service from 1 February 2021.

The 2020 exams are unaffected by these changes and will proceed as planned.
We will review the timings of the 2021 examinations in due course, and will be seeking feedback from those involved about this.

We do not foresee any impact on our Censors and Fellowship Assessors, other than being aware of programme timing changes. 



2021 training dates

From 2021 we will align our training programme dates with those of the DHBs’.

In 2021 the attachment dates are:

  • Attachment 1: 1 February 2021 to 1 August 2021 (26 weeks) 
  • Attachment 2: 2 August 2021 to 30 January 2022 (26 weeks) 
We are a teaching practice, how will I be affected?

College-employed GPEP1 registrars for the new intake will commence at your practice from 1 February 2021. This is a change from the normal timing so practices may want to consider their needs during December and January. Short term cover may be required if you have doctors taking leave or if your practice needs additional resourcing during the holiday period.

For more information about the RMO date change, please visit the TAS website.

When can I apply for the GPEP 2022 cohort? 

Applications for the 2022 GPEP cohort will open on 15 February 2021 and close on 23 April 2021.