For many, the dream location to live and work has to be Australia, with its sun baked beaches, crystal blue waters, ancient rock formations, tropical rainforests and year round sunshine. What’s not to love?
The good news for doctors is that there is a continuing demand for international medical graduates (IMGs) in Australia, a demand which has been considerably helped by the changing immigration laws over the past 20 years. Today, IMGs can gain a temporary visa for up to four years (previously only two) and in 2004 medical practitioners were included in the skilled occupation list for immigration. According to a recent study by Health Workforce Australia, the country “has a strong reliance on overseas trained doctors. In 2009, one-quarter (18,458) of working doctors in Australia obtained their first medical qualification overseas.”
Often the decision to move abroad for work is fuelled by lifestyle choice and Australia’s laid back ways and good weather are renowned for attracting healthcare professionals from many countries around the world, especially the UK and Ireland. So if this is the place for your next medical career move, what’s involved?
There are plenty of websites that provide detailed information so do your research first - www.doctorconnect.gov.au - is particularly useful. In addition, recruitment agencies such as Global Medics are able to provide all the information you need to help navigate your chosen medical career path abroad and settle in once you are there.
Medical practitioners who haven’t worked in Australia before should visit the Australian Medical Council website to assess their skill level by taking the AMC Trial Exam online. This will identify the correct registration pathway for you – Competent Authority, Standard or Specialist – details for each can also be found here.
You can only apply for medical registration once you have been offered a job and you will need to contact the relevant board for the state you will be working in. There are six Australian states – Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania – each with its own Medical Registration Board. The relevant board must assess and recognise your medical qualifications before you can apply for a visa and work as a Medical Practitioner in an Australian hospital or medical organisation.
Detailed information can be found on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship website. As a rule the 457 visa is required by Medical Practitioners looking to work in and be sponsored by hospitals. The 422 visa is normally used for doctors employed as General Practitioners to work in General Practice (GP) Surgeries.
All temporary visa applicants and any accompanying family members will require medical examinations and x-rays.
If you are looking for a locum position in Australia, the majority can be found in regional and rural hospital facilities – metropolitan cities only tend to need locum cover on an ad hoc basis. As a guideline a doctor will need to be PGY2+ to commence and some rural hospitals will require a specific set of clinical skills and prior experience working in a rural setting.
Specialists must be either be Board Certified or Fellows of their respective specialty college and General Practitioners will need four years or more post graduate training or experience to be able to work in Australia.
How long will the process take?
As a general rule, on receiving a job offer to actually starting your new position in Australia, you should allow between three to five months for non-specialist positions and more for specialist level posts, depending on the state.
So if that Australian lifestyle is calling and you dream of progressing your medical career down under, get looking now. The possibilities are endless; you will find positions for all specialties in metropolitan and rural locations – from the coastal towns of Queensland, just a stone’s throw from the Great Barrier Reef to the buzz of cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Perth. Whether it is just you or your family looking for new opportunities, you can be assured that you will be living and working in one of the most desirable countries in the world.
Global Medics is a leading medical recruitment company for doctors, working across two continents in four countries – the UK, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand – and provides career and immigration advice for doctors looking to work abroad.