What’s it like to be a GP in Australia?

Inside a GP Clinic in Mindarie, Perth

Inside a GP Clinic in Mindarie, Perth

What’s it like to work as a GP in Australia?

GP practice in Australia is very similar to the UK & Ireland in terms of clinical work. Practices are generally modern and have good nursing support. Some have physiotherapy, pathology, ultrasound, CT and / or ECG too. Usually the practices have 6 to 10 doctors on site. Typically, they are open 12 hours a day, for 5 /6 days per week and often Sundays too. They may ask you to work a rota to help them cover these hours but there are locations where you can work part time or just Monday to Friday. (Unfortunately, these options are unlikely in Melbourne or Sydney at the moment)

The practices can be situated as standalone premises or in shopping centres or next door to a pharmacy.

A lot of GP practices are owned by “corporates” – companies set up to run a number of practices either within a State or nationally. Generally well run and with a clear understanding of the needs of doctors coming from the UK & Ireland, they make a good place to start off a career in Australia. They’re not the only option though, as there are quite a few privately owned practices who are also looking for GPs.

The main difference between GPs in the UK & Ireland and Australia is in the way you get paid. For the typical jobs that we have, you’ll get a “percentage of billings”. GP practices bill patients or Medicare (their version of the NHS) for each consultation. This money is then split between the practice and you.  The percentage you get is important – called the percentage of billings but of at least equal and perhaps more importance is to know that you’ll be busy with a steady stream of patients.

You’ll be an independent practitioner and so self-employed. You’ll get paid gross and then, most likely with the help of  a local accountant, you’ll need to sort out your tax (after allowing for expenses such as MDU, travel costs, some home office costs etc  and pension).

Cricket Match at the Oval, Adelaide

Cricket Match at the Oval, Adelaide

Australia itself is still doing well. Despite the general downbeat feeling in Europe, Australia is still growing and a great place to be.

Many of the GP jobs we have are in these high growth areas – Perth & Western Australia and around Melbourne.  There are some jobs in the traditional destinations of Brisbane and Sydney as well but these tend to be in the suburbs. There are also jobs available in more rural and remotes areas. Here you’ll need to be independent and able to cope with emergencies as well as handle the standard GP fare.

All of the main cities and their suburbs are pretty cosmopolitan, though less so than what you might be used to if you live in one of the UK’s bigger cities. While overwhelmingly “British” in background, there are a lot of Asian influences in Australia, reflecting the cultures brought in by far eastern and Indian immigrants over the past few decades.  Small towns and rural communities are more conservative and have long-standing links with the UK and Ireland

The Australian way of life is relaxed. Perhaps a bit rough around the edges but more than made up for with an easy going friendship and resilience to the difficulties life might throw at them.

Physically, weather and distance are the overwhelming differences between us and Australia. Warmer than the UK, it’s rare for any of the main cities in Australia to have snow in the winter. And in summer, it can get hot and humid, particularly north of Brisbane Queensland. Distance is perhaps the overriding difference though. Not only to get there – it is still 18 hours flying (and you have to stop) between the UK and say, Perth (longer to Sydney) – but also within Australia. It’s not surprising that the longest straight stretch of railway is in Australia. What is surprising is that it goes for 297 miles  without a bend or curve.  That’s about the same distance as London to Carlisle

See here for guide to different parts of Australia

I would highly recommend EU Health Staff to any GP looking for work in Australia. They provide a very professional, efficient and friendly service.

As a newly qualified GP with a young family, and having never been to Australia before, the process of finding the right job seemed rather daunting at first. Being matched to the right practice and location was crucial to the success of our move.

Paul, based in the UK, did an excellent job in assessing my needs and interests (and those of my family!) and matching me to the right job/s. This saved me a lot of time and effort. He was also very responsive in replying to my queries, liaising with partners and employers in Australia, arranging interviews, and keeping me up to date with the whole process.

‘Monique, based in Australia, was also immensely helpful as the time of our move approached, and communicated directly with my wife regarding many practical queries that we had. This was great for us as I was busy working full-time and had no time to make calls to Australia at a suitable time; or to reply to emails promptly. Monique also gave us a warm welcome to Perth and was there on my first day at work here.

My wife and I feel as though we were guided by the hand in what could have otherwise been a very confusing and frustrating maze of application forms, registration steps and overseas phone calls. Quite honestly, I don’t think we would have got very far in the process had we attempted it ourselves unaided!

We have been in Perth for almost three months now and already feel settled into work and family life here. The adjustment process has not been as challenging as we expected. We have made friends easily and are enjoying the outdoor lifestyle…even in winter! We are already planning to stay longer than we first anticipated…even buying a house. Many thanks to Paul, Monique and partners for helping to make this move a reality and success for our family! You are the best!
Dr A. R.