Can I work as a doctor in Australia and New Zealand?
Thinking of working abroad?
We have a team dedicated to International Medical Graduates (IMGs), who can help you to determine the opportunities available to you. Typically, this depends on your individual circumstances, such as where you completed your primary medical degree, the countries in which you have clinical experience and if you’re a specialist or junior doctor. Your first port of call is to understand your eligibility for medical registration, as this dictates the type of role we will be looking for.
Am I eligible to work in New Zealand or Australia?
In order to practice in either Australia or New Zealand, you must be registered with either AHPRA (AU) or MCNZ (NZ). For IMGs, this is achievable via a number of pathways (or routes), your eligibility for which is determined by your clinical background.
To gain registration to work in Australia, the most common pathway for non-specialist doctors is the Competent Authority Pathway. To be eligible for this pathway, you must have completed your primary medical degree in the UK or Ireland. Alternatively, you are eligible if you have passed the medical licencing exams in the UK, Canada, USA or NZ and have completed an internship equivalent in one of these countries.
If you did not complete your primary medical degree in the countries listed above, but you do have a medical degree from a country listed in the WHO directory, you are eligible for registration via the Standard Pathway. This route requires you to complete the AMC examinations, which involve an MCQ and clinical examination. After successfully completing these exams you will be eligible for provisional registration, however, you must secure an internship level role for the first 12 months. These positions are rare to secure via an agency so for Standard Pathway positions it’s best to apply directly.
Similar to Australia, the most common pathway for non-specialist doctors to gain registration to work in New Zealand is the Competent Authority Pathway. Again, to be eligible for this pathway, you must have completed your primary medical degree in the UK or Ireland.
However, unlike Australia, there is an additional pathway in New Zealand for non-specialist doctors to gain registration. The Comparable Health System Pathway is open to doctors who meet the following criteria;
Have a medical degree from a country listed in the WHO directory
Have worked for 33 months (for at least 30 hours per week) in the 48 months prior to your application within a comparable health system in the same area of medicine and same level offered in New Zealand
Hold full (or general) registration in the comparable health system in which you meet the above active clinical practice requirements.
If you are not eligible for registration via the pathways above but you have a medical degree from a country listed in the WHO directory, you do have the option of pursuing registration via the NZREX Clinical Examination. This route requires you to complete the NZ Registration examinations which are held three times a year in Auckland. After successfully completing these exams you will be eligible for provisional registration but, like Australia, you must secure an internship level role for the first 12 months. Again, finding these posiotions via a recruitment consultancy is extremely challenging, so we suggest that you apply directly after you have successfully completed the exams.
Note that Medrecruit only works with qualified doctors – we cannot work with students, nurses or other healthcare professionals.
If you are looking to work as a consultant, you will need to pursue a pathway to specialist level registration in Australia or New Zealand.
As an internationally trained specialist, you are eligible to apply for registration via the Specialist Pathway. This pathway involves an assessment by the relevant specialist college of your qualifications and experience to see how it compares to that of an Australian-trained Specialist. The outcome of this assessment will determine your comparability and therefore what additional requirements you must adhere to before you can gain full specialist registration (typically supervision and/or further examinations). The outcome of this comparability assessment will dictate the type of job opportunities available to you to achieve this.
For doctors who hold a specialist qualification from the UK, Ireland, Canada, the USA or New Zealand we can assist you in securing a role prior to completion of your comparability assessment being completed. If you hold a specialist qualification from a different country, we are only able to assist once you have an assessment outcome. Please note that completing a comparability assessment does not guarantee that you will secure a role.
To work as a specialist in New Zealand, you must hold Vocational Registration. For overseas trained doctors, this can be achieved via the VOC3 pathway. Like the Australian process, this involves a full assessment of your overseas qualifications, training and experience to see how it compares to a New Zealand doctor of the same level. Again, the outcome of this comparability assessment will determine what steps you need to complete to be eligible for full Vocational Registration and the type of job you require.
Again, if you hold a specialist qualification from the UK, Ireland, Canada, the USA or Australia we are able to assist in securing you a role prior to completion of your comparability assessment being completed.
New Zealand offers an additional route to registration called Locum Tenens. This represents a temporary form of specialist registration but does not preclude you from securing vocational registration to continue practising should you wish. Locum Tenens has strict eligibility criteria and is only applicable to select specialist qualifications, e.g. MRCGP with CCT (UK). Read more about the qualifications eligible for registration via Locum Tenens.
All international doctors, specialist and non-specialist, are required to work under supervision when they arrive in AU/NZ. This can be for a period between 6 – 24 months. This is put in place to ensure that IMGs have the necessary support available to them to safely integrate into a new medical system. As a result, IMGs are not able to locum when they first arrive – they must secure a fixed term or permanent role which satisfies the Medical Council that they are supported as they settle into a New Healthcare system.
Find out everything you need to know about moving to Australia or New Zealand in our free IMG Guide.Download now
Supervision? But I’m a Consultant!
The term ‘supervision’ can be misleading; it is simply a process whereby the hospitals in AU/NZ commit to the Medical Council that they have made adequate provision for your safe integration into the new system and continued development by ensuring a consultant is available to support you in the event of any differences in practice and guide you in accordance with this. It enables you to practice in full capacity with the support of an AU/NZ trained consultant in what could be more accurately described as a collegiate relationship. The location in which you secure a role will nominate a consultant and must provide feedback to the medical council regarding your practice in accordance with AU/NZ regulations.
What if I have not worked in a comparable health system?
Doctors who have not completed their degree or worked for more than 33 months in a comparable health system must pursue the Standard Pathway. As a general rule, we can’t assist doctors on this pathway. There is a lot of competition for jobs from Australian and New Zealand medical graduates as well as IMGs from countries like the UK, which has a system that’s similar to that of NZ and Australia.
Can New Zealand doctors work in Australia?
Certainly, New Zealand doctors can work in Australia under the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement (TTMRA), which facilitates the mutual recognition of qualifications between the two countries. This agreement means that a doctor who is registered to practice in New Zealand can apply for and is entitled to receive registration to practice in Australia. The process is managed by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). While the registration process is streamlined, New Zealand doctors must still meet any specific requirements of the Australian Medical Board to practice in their chosen specialty or field.
Can Australian doctors work in New Zealand?
Absolutely, Australian doctors can work in New Zealand, often with relative ease due to the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement (TTMRA). This agreement allows Australian registered medical practitioners to gain registration to practice in New Zealand and vice versa. Credentials and qualifications are typically recognized across both countries, simplifying the transition. However, doctors must still apply for registration with the Medical Council of New Zealand and fulfill any specific requirements that may apply to their specialty or scope of practice. This opens up diverse opportunities for Australian doctors seeking new professional experiences in New Zealand's healthcare system.
How to get started:
Relocating to pursue a medical career is a significant undertaking, and the backing of a medical recruitment agency can be helpful. Medrecruit features a specialised IMG team, comprised of individuals who've personally navigated moving to New Zealand, ready to provide advice on transitioning to life "Down Under." What's more, our service is completely free for doctors. To find out more about working as an IMG in Australia, register, and one of our IMG team will be in touch to discuss opportunities and set you up for a successful relocation.
IMGs in Australia and New Zealand are in high demand, with a large and diverse healthcare sector offering numerous opportunities for professional growth and development. Whether you're looking for a metropolitan lifestyle or a peaceful rural existence, Australasia has something to offer every IMG.