Australia is an exciting prospect for anyone looking to work abroad, and if you are a healthcare professional there are a wealth of opportunities awaiting you.
Whether you are searching for locum or permanent work, there is a huge demand for doctor, nursing and allied health professionals 'Down Under', provided you have the appropriate level of training and experience.
The Australian health system
The World Health Organisation described Australia's health system in 2003 as "world class in both its effectiveness and efficiency," adding that it "consistently ranks in the best performing group of countries for healthy life expectancy and health expenditure per person".
Australia's population has a health pattern similar to that of other developed countries, however there are many regions with unique health needs largely made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.
The country deploys a robust private health sector, as well as Medicare, Australia's universal public health system. It is important to decide whether you plan to work in a private institution or public, as this will affect your move and what preparation you need to undertake.
Whether you want to work in private practice as a GP, specialist or hospital doctor, or in the public sector, you need to register with the Medical Board in the state or territory you intend to practice. Once a visa is granted, you must apply to Medicare Australia for a Medicare Provider Number if you will be working in general practice or prescribing drugs.
Medicare runs incentive programmes for GPs which assist them in maintaining a high standard of healthcare for patients, while also providing financial assistance.
Most trained doctors who are heading to Australia from overseas will be subject to Medicare Provider Number restrictions. Overseas trained doctors (OTDs) and Foreign Graduates of an Accredited Medical School (FGAMs) will initially be able to obtain only a limited registration. Following this, they will need to undertake a period of supervised employment in an area of need.
Factors which can determine the pathways to registration and obtaining a Medicare Provider Number include your residency status and also when you obtained your primary medical degree, as well as the current demand for your particular profession.
Where to go?
While you may be attracted by the bright lights of metropolises such as Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, there is plenty of demand for healthcare workers in rural communities too.
In order to determine what constitutes as an Area of Need (AON) you can contact the health department in the state or territory you would like to practice in and they will be able to inform you of public and private sector openings.
Rural areas in particular, demonstrate a demand for not only GPs and doctors, but also nurses, specialists and carers. Due to the isolated locations of some healthcare facilities, GPs may also have to provide specialist services including minor surgery, trauma management, anaesthesia and obstetrics care; meaning any added experience or locum work you have undertaken is sure to come in very useful.
The Australian government is making the countryside more of a focus and has launched the Rural Health Workforce Strategy to encourage doctors to work in regional and remote areas by providing improved, ongoing support and incentives.
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