Can I work as a doctor in Australia and New Zealand?


Article by Bethany Rogers13 Mar 2019
Medrecruit Image

Thinking of working abroad? Australia and New Zealand have a lot to offer doctors. Modern medical systems and the great lifestyle are just some of the reasons doctors look for jobs in Australasia.

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?

Non-specialists

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.

Australia

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.

Finding work via a recruitment consultancy is extremely challenging as most employers do not accept agency applications for entry-level supervised positions – in this instance, it’s best to apply directly once you have successfully completed the exams.

New Zealand

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 work 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.

Specialists

If you hold a full specialist qualification you have a larger number of options to pursue registration in Australia and New Zealand.

Australia

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.

New Zealand

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 for a minimum of six months when they arrive in AU/NZ, during which time you will be practising under either limited (AU) or provisional (NZ) registration. 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 role which satisfies the medical council that supervision is available.

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.

Looking for a doctor job which matches your career and lifestyle aspirations? Start your journey with Medrecruit now

Sign up now
Bethany Rogers
Article by Bethany RogersMedrecruit Editor
Related Articles