The high standard of medical education and practice in the UK has generally meant that demand for NHS-trained medical staff in other countries has always been fairly strong. However, recent evidence has suggested that more and more British doctors are being tempted to answer the call.
A number of surveys and reports have indicated that the appetite for overseas GP jobs among UK doctors is on the rise at the moment, as it becomes increasingly difficult for staff to resist the temptation of a horizon-expanding and potentially lucrative move abroad.
With the reasons this is happening being manifold, the trend has now gathered enough pace that it should be considered an important career option for adventurous doctors who are willing to step outside their comfort zones.
The growing demand for overseas jobs
Evidence for the growth of this trend is considerable. Last month, industry publication Pulse revealed that the number of GPs applying to the General Medical Council (GMC) for Certificates of Good Standing (CGSs) - which enable them to work abroad - has remained at a constant of more than 4,700 annually for the past two years.
Indeed, the number of CGS applications rose by more than 12 per cent between 2008 and 2012, with the latest GMC figures showing that the numbers are still increasing, although at a slower pace. A further 2,485 doctors received CGSs in the first six months of 2014, compared to 2,479 for the same period in 2013.
Meanwhile, GP Online highlighted results from a recent survey of 2,750 GP and practice managers by Banbury practice manager Andrew McHugh, revealing that 11 per cent plan to emigrate within five years, with the majority of these being people in the 35 to 44 age group.
Additionally, a recent local medical committee survey of more than 2,000 GP trainees suggested that one in eight final-year trainee GPs plan to leave the country within the next 12 months.
Which countries are most popular?
According to Pulse's research, Australia is one of the most popular destinations for UK doctors, with 729 doctors being granted certificates of advanced standing to allow them to practice down under in 2013, with a further 945 receiving these qualifications in 2012.
The Australian Medical Council has awarded the certificates to more than 5,500 UK doctors since 2006, 40 per cent of whom have gone on to complete the 12-month supervised performance assessments needed for general registration.
Why do overseas jobs appeal to British GPs?
There are numerous reasons why UK doctors may wish to travel abroad, either for a fixed-length term or on a more permanent basis. Many of the most popular countries for British expats - which also include the likes of Singapore and South Africa - are known for the rapid growth and development of their healthcare sectors, giving doctors a chance to be a part of an exciting movement.
In many cases, these nations aspire to emulate key elements of the British healthcare service model, meaning cultural adjustment is made easier for UK doctors, while pay rates abroad for staff trained in Britain tend to be extremely competitive.
Perhaps most important, however, is the fact that travelling to another continent gives doctors the chance to have amazing experiences and learn more about the world, at the same time as continuing their career development and their commitment to healthcare. As such, even more GPs could be tempted to venture beyond Britain's borders in the years to come.
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