Going abroad

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Working in Australia

Sydney, Australia

Work and visa opportunities make Australia a common and easy destination for UK-trained doctors. Read about how to prepare for your move.

 

  • Finding a position

    Posts are often advertised in UK medical journals such as the BMJ or the classified section of the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA). Positions vary from hospital based through to general practice and other specialist roles. 

    As Australia increases the number of medical graduates, it's likely that more of the junior hospital positions will be filled from within Australia, with the more senior positions in hospitals and private practice being available to suitably qualified doctors from overseas. Many positions are not advertised and are serviced by medical recruitment and locum agencies specialising in employment in Australia. Positions vary considerably in location from the large metropolitan based teaching hospitals to the remote country areas.

    The BMA cannot recommend, or provide lists of, specific agencies, but they advertise regularly in BMJ Careers. Many doctors find that once they have been offered a post, the employer will organise their registration and a visa for them.

    For positions in general practice AMA Recruit, part of the Australian Medical Association in Western Australia, also offers the service of direct sponsorship, which enables the doctor to move around, without changing sponsors. As part of sponsorship, the AMA (WA) provides orientation into the health care system prior to and on arrival in Australia. 

    Two key partners the AMA (WA) works with that are of particular interest to doctors considering working in Australia relate to personal private healthcare insurance and financial matters. Information on the services and discounts for members through HBF and CBA are available by emailing the AMA (WA) on [email protected]

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  • Healthcare system

    Australia has a healthcare system that is managed by both the Australian Government and the State or Territory Governments. Australia's public healthcare system, Medicare, is funded largely from general taxation, which includes a Medicare Levy based on a person's taxable income. Australia's public hospital system is jointly funded by the Australian government and State or Territory governments and is administered by State or Territory Health Departments.

    Medicare provides accessible and affordable healthcare to all Australians. Individuals pay to see their General Practitioner, but they are reimbursed for all or part of the cost via a rebate from Medicare. Doctors practising in the private system (such as general practitioners or specialists), determine the fee they will charge a patient. Doctors need a Provider Number so that patients can claim a rebate from Medicare Australia.   

    The majority of Australians take out private health insurance. For doctors and their families on Business visas they are required to have private health insurance as part of sponsorship or visa application.

     

  • Immigration

    According to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship the preferred temporary visa pathway for doctors is the Temporary Business (Long Stay) visa (Subclass 457) which has a streamlined application process.

    In order to apply for a visa you must first find a post, you will also need to provide evidence that you are eligible for registration with the Australian Medical Board. Alternative temporary immigration routes are the Occupational Trainee visa or where eligible a Working Holiday visa. Most visas require a sponsor (employer) prior to making application to the Medical Board of Australia for registration.

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  • Medical education

    In Australia, undergraduate degree programmes last for five to six years, whilst graduate entry programmes last four years. After their degree, Australian medical graduates undertake a 12-month internship. Upon satisfactory completion of their internship, they are granted full registration with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Agency and the Medical Board of Australia.

    Once fully registered, doctors undertake 'pre-vocational' on-the-job training as Resident Medical Officers (RMOs) or sometimes known as Hospital Medical Officers (HMOs). After one or two years as an RMO, most junior doctors seek admission to a vocational training programme run by one of the specialist medical colleges which set and administer the specialist medical training programmes and examinations. When doctors have met the entry requirements, they secure a registrar post which is accredited for training.

    Specialist training and practice generally follows the model of the UK training system and usually lasts between three and five years. Doctors training in general practice undertake their advanced training in accredited private GP training practices in a community setting.

    Upon successful completion of vocational medical training, and in compliance with other College requirements, a doctor is awarded a Fellowship of the College and recognised as a specialist. Additional sub-specialty training may also be undertaken.

     

  • Medicare

    All doctors holding registration in Australia can obtain a Medicare Prescriber number from Medicare Australia, enabling them to prescribe pharmaceuticals, order diagnostic tests and refer patients to other doctors. Doctors employed in general practice or private specialist practice also need a Medicare Provider number. They register with Medicare Australia to participate in the Medicare scheme and to be eligible to have Medicare benefits paid for their professional services or for patients to claim a rebate.

    Since 1 January 1997, overseas doctors have had access to Medicare Provider numbers restricted, with the restrictions being different for temporary and permanent residents. Generally Overseas Trained Doctors are unable to obtain a Medicare provider number unless they work in an approved District of Workforce Shortage.

    Districts of Workforce Shortage (DWS) are areas where the general population has less access to GPs when compared to the national average. The Department uses the latest Medicare billing statistics, which account for all active Medicare billing, and Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) population to determine which areas are a DWS. This information is used to create a doctor to population ratio which is used as the basis for calculating DWS. If an area has a lower doctor population ratio (i.e less full time equivalent doctors) than the national average, the area is a DWS. 

    Overseas Trained Doctors are subject to the ten year moratorium which means they have to work in a DWS for a period of up to ten years from first registration in Australia. If an OTD becomes a Permanent Resident or Australian Citizen prior to obtaining fellowship with a Specialist college then they will be subject to further restrictions and will need to be enrolled in an approved 3GA program in order to access Medicare benefits.

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  • Registration

    Registration is regulated by the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Agency and the Medical Board of Australia which has offices and Medical Boards in each State of Australia. See below for contact details. In broad terms there are two kinds of registration available, registration without conditions and registration with conditions. For either, you will need to prove that you have an adequate command of English, are of good standing and have the physical and mental competence to practise medicine.

    Registration without conditions (full registration)

    Enables doctors to practise  unsupervised or independently. It is granted to graduates of Australian and New Zealand medical schools, after completing the approved period of pre-registration training, or to overseas graduates who have completed the Australian Medical Council (AMC) examinations and a period of approved training. The AMC examinations consist of one MCQ exam and a Clinical examination, and are a comprehensive test of medical knowledge, clinical competency and performance which evaluate clinical competence by testing principles and medical practice. The standard of the examinations are at the level of newly qualified graduates of Australian medical schools who are about to commence intern training. If you are not a native English speaker, you will also need to pass a language test.

    Registration with conditions (limited registration)

    Available to overseas medical graduates who will be temporarily in Australia to work in one of the following areas:

    • postgraduate (occupational) training
    • supervised training
    • teaching or research
    • public interest or areas of need
    • overseas trained specialists (following assessment by the relevant specialist college).

    The types of conditions vary depending on the category of registration and the individual doctor. Areas of need include positions or locations where there is a shortage of particular doctors or where positions have remained unfilled despite recruitment efforts to fill them. Area of need covers both public and private sector posts. The State or Territory governments determine Areas of Need and the process for doing so can vary.

    Further information should be sought from the Australian Medical Board located in the area in which you wish to work. Doctors with conditional (Limited) registration are subject to supervision by an appropriately qualified Australian medical practitioner. Registration with conditions is granted for a specific post and therefore doctors working under conditional (Limited) registration must reapply for registration if they wish to change jobs.

     

    Doctors with specialist qualifications

    Doctors with specialist qualifications should apply to the appropriate Australian Specialist Medical College to have their specialist training and qualifications assessed to determine equivalence. This procedure is administered by the AMC, but the assessment is carried out by the Specialist Medical Colleges. Once a Specialist qualification is recognised by the College, you should contact the Australian Medical Board in the State or territory in which you are intending to practise to obtain conditional (Limited) registration in a Specialist field of practice. As part of this process, you will need to obtain a position and sponsor.

    There are two types of specialist recognition: recognition by an Australian Specialist Medical College of a specialist qualification as equivalent to that of an Australian trained specialist and recognition as a specialist by Medicare Australia for billing purposes.

    The former relates to medical registration and enables a specialist to practise independently or unsupervised. Australian state or territory medical boards or councils accept overseas trained specialists who are recognised by Australian or Australasian specialist medical colleges for registration to practise in their field of specialisation. The procedure is administered by the AMC, and the assessment of training and experience by the specialist medical colleges.

    The second form of recognition enables specialists to provide services attracting a higher 'specialist' rebate under Medicare. In some cases Medicare requires that a service is provided by a doctor who has been formally recognised as a specialist and that the patient has been referred by another doctor, usually a GP. If these requirements are not met, either no Medicare benefit is reimbursed or it will be at a lower level.

    Full details of the registration procedures can be found on the AMC website.

     

  • Useful addresses

    Embassy High Commission

    Australian High Commission
    Australia House, Strand, London, WC2B 4LA
    Tel: 020 7379 4334 Fax: 020 7240 5333
    www.uk.embassy.gov.au

    National Medical Association

    Australian Medical Association (AMA)
    The AMA has a federal structure, with the main office in Canberra focusing on national issues. State AMAs focus on a range of membership and local services as well as providing representation into the federal system. Doctors join the State AMA where they live and work and from there access State and national benefits. If you join, they will be able to provide expert legal, financial and industrial relations advice.

    National office
    Australian Medical Association, PO Box 6090, Kingston, ACT 2604, Australia
    Tel: +61 2 6270 5400 Fax: +61 2 6270 5499
    Email: [email protected]
    www.ama.com.au

     

    State AMAs

    New South Wales
    Northern Territory
    Queensland
    South Australia
    Tasmania
    Victoria
    Western Australia

     

    Medical Boards of Australia

    AHPRA
    Medical Board of Australia

    RSM Bird Cameron Building,103 – 105 Northbourne Avenue, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia
    Tel: +61 3 8708 9001
    www.ahpra.gov.au

    AHPRA
    Medical Board of Australia
    Level 51, 680 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia,
    Tel: +61 3 8708 9001
    www.ahpra.gov.au

    AHPRA
    Medical Board of Australia
    Level 5, 22 Harry Chan Avenue, Darwin, NT 0800, Australia
    Tel: +61 3 8708 9001
    www.ahpra.gov.au

    AHPRA
    Medical Board of Australia
    Level 18, 179 Turbot Street, Brisbane, QLD 4000, Australia
    Tel: +61 3 8708 9001
    www.ahpra.gov.au

    AHPRA
    Medical Board of Australia
    Level 8, 121 King William Street, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia
    Tel: +61 3 8708 9001
    www.ahpra.gov.au

    AHPRA
    Medical Board of Australia
    Level 12, 86 Collins Street, Hobart, TAS 7000, Australia
    Tel: +61 3 8708 9001
    www.ahpra.gov.au

    AHPRA
    Medical Board of Australia
    Level 8, 111 Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia
    Tel: +61 3 8708 9001
    www.ahpra.gov.au

    AHPRA
    Medical Board of Australia
    Level  1, 541 Hay street, Subiaco, WA  6008, Australia
    Tel: +61 3 8708 9001
    www.ahpra.gov.au

     

    Medical Colleges

    Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists
    ANZCA House, 630 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia
    Tel: +61 3 9510 6299 Fax: +61 3 9510 6786
    Email: [email protected]
    www.anzca.edu.au

    Australasian College of Dermatologists
    PO Box 3785, Rhodes, NSW 2138, Australia
    Tel: +61 2 8765 0242 Fax: +61 2 9736 2194
    Email: [email protected]
    www.dermcoll.asn.au

    The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
    College House, 100 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne;, VIC 3002, Australia
    Tel: +61 3 8699 0414 Fax: +61 3 8699 0400
    Email: [email protected]
    www.racgp.org.au

    Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
    254-260 Albert Street, East Melbourne, VIC 3002, Australia
    Tel: +61 3 9417 1699 Fax: +61 3 9419 0672
    Email: [email protected]
    www.ranzcog.edu.au

    Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists
    94-98 Chalmers Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010, Australia
    Tel: +61 2 9690 1001 Fax: +61 2 9690 1321
    Email: [email protected]
    www.ranzco.edu

    The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia
    Durham Hall, 207 Albion Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010, Australia
    Tel: +61 2 8356 5858 Fax: +61 2 8356 5828
    Email: [email protected]
    www.rcpa.edu.au

    The Royal Australasian College of Physicians
    145 Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia
    Tel: +61 2 9256 5444 Fax: +61 2 9252 3310
    Email: [email protected]
    www.racp.edu.au

    The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
    309 La Trobe Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia
    Tel: +61 3 9640 0646 Fax: +61 3 9642 5652
    Email: [email protected]
    www.ranzcp.org

    The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists
    Level 9 51 Druitt Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
    Tel: +61 2 9268 9777 Fax: +61 2 9268 9799
    Email: [email protected]
    www.ranzcr.edu.au

    Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine
    GPO Box 2507, Brisbane, QLD 4001, Australia
    Tel: +61 7 3105 8200 Fax: +61 7 3105 8299
    Email: [email protected]
    www.acrrm.org.au

    The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
    College of Surgeon's Gardens, Spring Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia
    Tel: +61 3 9249 1255 Fax: +61 3 9249 1256
    www.racs.edu.au

     

    Other useful contacts

    Australian Medical Council
    PO Box 4810, Kingston, ACT 2604, Australia
    Tel: +612 6 270 7878 Fax: +612 6 270 9799
    Email: [email protected]
    www.amc.org.au

    Department of Health
    www.health.gov.au

    Department of Immigration and Border Protection
    www.immi.gov.au/index.htm

    Medicare Australia
    www.medicareaustralia.gov.au

    Medical Journal of Australia - online
    www.mja.com.au

    Royal Flying Doctors
    www.flyingdoctor.org.au