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Working in Australia as a doctor
Old 17th February 2010, 05:26 PM   #1
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Default Working in Australia as a doctor

The health system in Australia is largely a government funded, public healthcare system. It is of a very high standard, but is supplemented in part by a private healthcare system (funded by private paying patients, and health insurance companies). It is not mandatory to have health insurance in Australia, as all citizens, and permanent residents are covered by Medicare, which is a federally funded system. Most employment as a doctor in Australia is in a public hospital. There are different terms used in each region, but essentially there are four levels of doctor:

  • Interns are undergoing a supervised training year
  • Residents are fully registered doctors, working in a general rotational position in a hospital
  • Registrars are taking part in a specialty training program
  • Consultants are qualified specialists

Getting started

There are several steps to prepare for working in Australia as a doctor. The first step we suggest is to contact us to discuss your individual needs, and considerations - as each person is different, and requires a unique path to employment as a doctor in Australia.

1. English language competency

If you come from a non-english speaking background, you will be required show proficiency in written and spoken english. This is generally achieved by completing the IELTS examination (with a minimum score of 7 in each element), or the alternative Occupational English Test.

You must meet this requirement before registering with the Australian Medical Council, or applying for a position in Australia. There are some exemptions to completing this requirement, for example, receiving secondary schooling in English. We can help you determine whether you are eligible for an exemption.

2. Determine your registration pathway

The Australian Medical Council (AMC) oversees the entry of international medical graduates into the Australian system. There are several pathways to medical registration in Australia. It is important to review the information on the AMC website to determine which pathway is best for you.

The competent authority pathway is one of the most straightforward ways to become registered in Australia. If your primary medical training was undertaken any of these countries, you are generally not required to complete any examinations to start work in Australia:

- United States of America

- United Kingdom

- Canada

- New Zealand

- Ireland

The standard pathway requires that you complete a multiple choice examination before commencing work in an Australian state. For eligibility for general (full/unrestricted) registration, you will be required to sit a further examination - however you are able to work in a supervised job before this time.

The specialist pathway is for doctors who are trained as a medical specialist in their home country. This pathway is also dependent on the relevant specialist medical colleges in Australia - as they will be the body responsible for assessing your qualifications and experience before recommending you to be registered in Australia.

Through a paper assessment, referee checks, and interviews, the specialist medical college assessing your application will review:

- your experience

- the relevancy and consistency of your specialist training with the Australian model

- the need for further training, supervision, and/or examinations

There are a number of outcomes which can occur as a result of this assessment process, including full recognition (which is rare), provisional fellowship, or be denied fellowship of the college. Before pursing this avenue, we recommend that you discuss it with us, or the specialist medical college - before applying. Some colleges have more involved processes than others, and the application fees can be very costly (whether or not your application is successful or not)

3. Register with the AMC

Once you have determined the appropriate pathway for you, you will be required to register with the AMC. To do this, you will need to provide very detailed information about your experience and training. You will also be required to provide certified copies of relevant documents (such as your medical degree, etc). It is very important that you send exactly what the AMC require, as not doing so will result in delays to your application.

Once you have completed the registration process, the AMC will progress your application - depending on the pathway you have chosen by:

- scheduling the AMC MCQ examination or

- forwarding your application to a specialist medical college

- advising you that you are eligible for the competent authority pathway

Note that the AMC does not deal with medical registration matters. Medical registration administered by the individual state medical boards, the rules vary from state to state. When you apply for a position in Australia, the medical recruitment company or hospital you are dealing with will generally assist you through the registration process.

4. Apply for a position

When applying for positions, you have the option of registering with a medical recruitment agency, or applying for positions directly with employers.

When working with a medical recruitment agency, we recommend that you carry out a careful evaluation of the available agencies, and choose one agency. It will inevitably cause problems for your job applications if there are multiple applications in for one job from different agencies. Similarly, should you choose to apply to employers directly, we advise that you do not engage a medical recruitment agency at the same time.

When applying for positions directly with employers, it is best to access the websites of the individual state health departments to review vacant positions. Junior medical positions are generally advertised in July/August for commencement in January the following year.

There are a number of benefits to working with a medical recruitment agency:

- it is free to you

- the agency will spend time finding you a position rather than you doing it yourself, and then negotiate the best package for you

- the agency will complete the processes required for your medical registration and working visa

- medical recruitment agencies have contacts in health services around Australia, and are able to access the “hidden”, unadvertised job market.

5. Application to medical board

There are a number of types of medical registration available to international medical graduates. There is variation between the individual state medical boards, so it is advisable to review the policies of the state you are to be employed in.

Broadly speaking, the class of medical registration you apply for is consistent with the AMC pathway you choose (i.e. specialist, standard, competent authority).

Generally, the employer (or their representative - for example, medical recruitment agency) will make an application for sponsorship to the medical board. Following that, you will be required to complete an application for registration for the relevant pathway. At this time, you will be required to supply documentation supporting your application (such as AMC certificates, IELTS, etc). It generally takes 4-8 weeks for this application to be finalised. Some candidates (especially ‘standard pathway’ applicants) will be required to undertake a Pre-employment Structured Clinical Interview (PESCI).

6. 457 Long Stay Business Visa

The 457 Long Stay Business visa is the recommended means of entry into Australia for most doctors. There may be other visas more appropriate for you, so Beat Medical works with a registered migration agent to ensure the visa process is handled professionally and expediently. There are several stages to the visa application, including a medical, and a number of documents to complete. Beat Medical, or your employer will assist with the process.

There are several stages which you need to follow to work in Australia as a doctor. Some of the areas can be complex, and may even seem daunting at first.

Keep in mind, however, that thousands of people before you have come to work in Australia, and many even choose to stay here.

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