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 decided to make the move to Australia in December 2011 to work as a GP. It had always been an ambition of mine to move out there. In all honesty though I had no idea where to start. I searched online and emailed an agency. Paul emailed me back straight away with a lot of initial information and we arranged to talk. After a long discussion with him (he was very patient as I had a LOT of questions), to cut a long story short he sent me a lot of information about available jobs and how to make the move. I basically let Paul know the jobs I was interested in and he gave me more info and set up interviews (this all happened very quickly). Anyhow after the interview (for the job I liked) I was offered the job and accepted the contract. As I discovered a little bit at a time moving to Australia can be very time consuming and difficult with all the procedures and paperwork needed. Paul also put me in touch with Monique who is based in Australia. So I now basically had 2 contacts to ask questions. As I mentioned previously I had a lot of questions. I can’t even begin to describe how helpful and easy it was to communicate with them both. If I had a question, or if there was a problem it was sorted out asap. Moving to Australia as a doctor is hard, but Paul and Monique made it so easy for me, it was just more time consuming than difficult (collecting all the paperwork). Had I tried to do this without them I would have struggled an awful lot. Not only do they help you with the medical paperwork, they will also give advice on living in Australia and also help with other things that will need to be done to facilitate the move. They will talk you through every thing that needs to be done in a manner that makes things seem straightforward!

Now I’m here, I still have contact and the little things and attention to detail, such as phone calls to see how I’m settling in is amazing. I love the place, the job and I don’t think i would be here now without their help.

I can quite honestly say this is a fantastic service and i would recommend it to anybody! They will talk you through every thing that needs to be done.
Dr Graham