Thinking about Australia?

Junior Doctors in the UK are increasingly moving to Australia after FY1, for FY3 or other years in between training. You can even join an exchange programme as part of your training to spend a year abroad. The helpful thing is that with a similar healthcare system and with so many doctors from the UK, it tends to be a really easy transition. Let’s face it – rotational training has made us specialists in moving far away to a new place and making new friends (although this distance is a fair bit more!).

As hospitals are trying to recruit you and you’ll be working with many others who have made the same transition, you will find it friendly and welcoming. The year abroad can be really fun because you can choose the specialty and location whilst enjoying a new place and cool activities. For most doctors, the biggest barrier is organising the experience in the first place – so this article helps you consider whether Australia is right for you and provides a step-by-step of how to organise it!

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Should you consider an FY3 or another year abroad in Australia?

Everyone talks about it but knowing whether it is right for you is understandably difficult. Particularly, as there are many things you could do instead during your years out of training. Most often, doctors tend to locum, travel or engage in hobbies lost through our gruelling hours. Others tend to do clinical fellow or teaching jobs to develop their portfolios. Finally, some work in startups or other alternative careers for doctors. You may wish to even do a mixture of these things splitting your time into 4 or 6-month blocks.

Within all of this, Australia lets you experience a mixture of travelling, working in a new system, good weather and cool activities in a better-paid job with improved work-life balance. Compared to the UK, SHOs tend to earn salaries that are about 20-30% more working fewer hours in better-staffed hospitals. Your co-workers, many of whom are often from the UK, tend to be very friendly and willing to help you learn and develop. Each state has its own climate and set of activities that you can enjoy from surfing, adventure activities, exploring wildlife or food and nightlife. You just have to pick what suits you best.

There are important things to consider:

  • Applications and paperwork will be more difficult than simply working in the UK as you have to get many things sorted which takes about 3-4 months. Organisations can help you with this!
  • Some may find the more relaxed pace of medical practice in Australia doesn’t suit them
  • It can be initially quite isolating until you make friends
  • It’ll take at least 6 months to obtain a proper experience

Steps to organising work in Australia

You can either organise it yourself or use a recruitment agency to help. Those new to the system typically use an agency as they provide an opportunity to discuss your options and they support you through the whole process. We’ve reached out to SkilledMedical who said they’re happy to guide and support any Mind the Bleep readers through the whole process with every step including finding a job that suits them at the right salary as well as applying, completing paperwork and tips for interviews. We liked them as they have a UK and Australia-based office and were really organised and supportive. It is worth reaching out to them by phone (0333 444 2000) or email and we’re thankful for them supporting this website and our readers! Don’t forget to mention Mind the Bleep when you contact them!

Step 1 – Obtain a job offer from an Australian Health Service Employer

The first thing to do is find a job. That’s the reason you’re going so it is vital that you’re getting the location, salary and experience you want. Also, you can’t complete any of the eligibility or competence paperwork without a confirmed job.

All jobs tend to attract 20-30% higher salaries with fewer hours and so generally the working conditions are better than in the UK. Additionally, different states will have various perks including relocation expenses, one-way flights or other cool aspects to entice you to join. Also bear in mind the cities across Australia are very different in climate and the range of activities they offer, as Australia is huge!

You’ll typically want to pick a Resident Medical Officer grade job open to internationals. They usually have “Eligible for Registration” in the description which means they’re jobs where they’ll be sufficient support for those who have never worked in Australia previously and they’ll support your applications for registration to practice.

Junior Doctor Grades in Australia

UK GradeAustralian-EquivalentComments
FY1Intern/PGY1/Junior Medical OfficerThese jobs are rarely available as they’re aimed at medical school graduates in Australia
FY2Resident Medical Officer (RMO)You’ll join the ward round & support each other with jobs under supervision
FY3+Senior Resident Medical Officer (SRMO)As above
RegistrarPrincipal House Officer/PGY4+In specialty fields you’ll act as an RMO, but you may step up as a registrar in generalist fields (similar to an IMT3)
RegistrarRegistrarSimilar to the UK. Many doctors might step down for a few months before doing a registrar job

There are several ways you can find a job, but ultimately the process is similar to how one applies for clinical fellow posts in the UK with an application including a CV with a cover letter to outline your experience followed by an interview. The easiest way to find these jobs is either through an agency or on SEEK or Indeed (job boards where hospitals list vacancies). You can also apply directly to hospitals but it can be difficult to find the contact details for recruitment leads or if you’re applying from June to October, you can join national recruitment in a process similar to Oriel.

Step 2 – Apply to the Australian Medical Council (AMC) to verify your medical qualifications

The AMC requires you to submit your medical qualifications for verification in a process called applying for primary source verification. They’re submitted on the Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials (EPIC) portal and the process costs around £135-£220 for the year. You can read more here.

Step 3 – Apply to Australian Health Practitioner Regulatory Agency (AHPRA)

The AHPRA is the Australian equivalent of GMC, but they also regulate all other healthcare professions. As you are already registered with the GMC which is deemed by the AHPRA as a reliable authority, they will be usually happy to fast-track your application via the Competent Authority Pathway. To be eligible for this, you must have a job offer in Australia, have graduated from a UK medical school or have passed PLAB, and have 12 months of experience working in the UK. The majority of doctors will be eligible for this pathway and as part of this, you’ll have to pay a small fee (around £30) for a Criminal History Check.

Step 4 – Complete your visa sponsorship application

Your employer will provide you with the Australian Government Visa Sponsorship application for you to complete (read more here). Generally, employers will offer you a 1-year contract with a visa that allows you to work in Australia for 2 years. They will also cover most of the cost of the visa which is around £720 and around £50 for UK Criminal Records check (also known as ACRO Police Clearance).

Step 5 – Getting set up in Australia

Most employers in regional or rural locations will pay for a one-way flight or relocation expense to your place of employment. At the end of your 12 months, you can apply for full registration (termed “General Registration”) if you wish via the AHPRA to be eligible to apply to any jobs in Australia as well as locum.

Further Resources

Thank you to the team at Skilled Medical for helping us put together this article. If you are interested in a job in Australia with a salary and location that suits you, please contact them at 0333 444 2000 or contact them via email to begin a conversation about opportunities abroad in Australia.

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