Move to Australia as a doctor

IMG down under

Australia; bustling metropolitans, natural beauty, and laid-back culture. What's not to love?

Long winters in the UK or other parts of the world may have prompted you to think about moving your medical career to sunny Australia, but before you pack up your bags and jump across to the other side of the world, we are sure you have some questions.

Moving to Australia as a doctor presents a fantastic opportunity to work in a country renowned for its world-class healthcare system, beautiful landscapes, and high standard of living. Australia has a growing demand for skilled medical professionals, especially in rural and remote areas. For overseas-trained doctors, there are various pathways and visa options to consider when planning a move to Australia. This comprehensive guide will cover essential information, including working with international doctor recruitment agencies, specialist pathways, subclass 186 and 189 visas, medical board registration, and studying in Australia.

There are so many things to love about working as a doctor in Australia. It offers great remuneration, excellent lifestyle opportunities, paid holidays, great work-life balance, and is great for beach lovers.

You will need to work in a rural location first, but from the outback to sleepy beachside towns there is so much to choose from!

Australia continues to invest in medical research and health care infrastructure. In October 2019, the Australian Government announced a $5 billion, a 10-year investment plan for the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

Can I move to Australia as a doctor?

So can you work in Australia as a doctor? There are great permanent roles available for experienced international medical graduates in Australia and New Zealand. To become a medical practitioner in Australia, you must be registered with the governing body. Gaining registration is often easiest for specialists (including GPs) and international medical graduates who have completed their primary degree in the UK or Ireland.

When planning a move to Australia as a doctor, you will often be required to spend time working in rural and remote areas. Rural workforce agencies play a crucial role in addressing the healthcare needs of these communities, and they actively seek to attract and retain skilled doctors. These agencies offer various incentives and support services, such as relocation assistance, professional development opportunities.

For doctors, there are three steps to working and living in Australia.

  1. Eligibility for medical registration
  2. Finding a suitable role
  3. Moving over!

Enjoy the beaches or the many bustling metropolitans, there is much for international doctors to love in Australia. One thing to keep in mind is that international doctors have more restrictions in Australia than in New Zealand. It can take some time to get the post you want, and up to a year to get settled. That's why it is important to work with an international doctor recruitment agency, we’ll help navigate the different requirements, and sort through the paperwork.

Can a doctor from overseas work in Australia?

Yes, overseas doctors can work in Australia, however, there is a process for this. The first step is having completed your medical degree in your country of origin, the next is finding a job and being set on a registration pathway. Your registration pathway will include a mandatory 12-month training program in Australia and a series of exams by the Australian Medical Council..

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Medical registration pathways for doctors moving to Australia

When moving to Australia to work as a doctor, your pathway to medical registration will depend 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.

Firstly, it is crucial to understand the registration process with the Medical Board of Australia (MBA), which oversees the practice of medicine in the country. The MBA is responsible for granting general registration to eligible doctors, enabling them to practise medicine in Australia. Overseas-trained doctors can apply for registration through several pathways, depending on their qualifications, experience, and intended area of practice.

There are four pathways:

  • Standard pathway
  • Competent Authority pathway
  • Specialist pathway
  • Short Term Training in a Medical Specialty pathway.

Standard Pathway: The standard pathway is designed for doctors who have obtained their primary medical qualifications from countries outside Australia, New Zealand, or those not recognised by the Australian Medical Council (AMC). This pathway requires doctors to pass the AMC's multiple-choice questionnaire (MCQ) examination, followed by a clinical examination. Upon successful completion of these examinations, the doctor will be eligible for general registration with the MBA.

Competent Authority Pathway: Aimed at individuals pursuing general registration, this pathway is suitable for candidates with an eligible medical degree. It requires confirmation of eligibility for a competent authority assessment by the Medical Board of Australia.

Specialist Pathway: Designed for overseas-trained specialists aiming for specialist recognition or seeking to apply for a specialist-level position in an area of need. Applicants must hold an eligible medical degree and possess pertinent specialist qualifications, training, and experience.

Short-Term Training in a Medical Specialty Pathway: This pathway caters to overseas-trained specialists interested in short-term specialist training. Candidates must be targeting a specialist-level position and must have an eligible medical degree, along with relevant specialist qualifications, training, and experience.

How much do doctors get paid in Australia?

The perks of working in Australia as a doctor include good remuneration, great lifestyle opportunities, and generous annual leave. You are paid normal rates while working under supervision. In Australia the overall average doctor's salary is around AU$180,000, however, what a doctor can earn depends on many factors, including their grade, and their specialty. If you are a doctor-in-training or junior doctor in Australia you will earn around AUD$70,000 – $95,000, whereas a top-level consultant can be earning an average of AUD$310,000.

What is life like for a doctor in Australia?

Life for a doctor in Australia is multifaceted, characterised by opportunities for professional growth, and an enviable work-life balance facilitated by the country's natural beauty and laid-back lifestyle.

Beyond their professional commitments, doctors in Australia enjoy a quality of life that's enhanced by the country's geographical and cultural offerings. Australia is renowned for its vast landscapes, from pristine beaches to lush rainforests, providing a scenic backdrop for outdoor activities and relaxation during off-duty hours. The climate favors an outdoor lifestyle, encouraging physical wellbeing and social activities.

Australia is said to be the fourth happiest country on the planet, the lifestyle is an enviable one. Spend your days off at pristine beaches, or enjoy a quintessential "beer and BBQ."

Australia's cities consistently rank high for livability, with healthcare, education, and infrastructure being top-notch. Doctors have a variety of choices in terms of where to live, be it major cities, regional towns, or rural areas, each offering a distinct lifestyle.

If you are after a metropolitan lifestyle then you've got choices galore. Sydney; is famous for beaches and fine dining, Melbourne; is famous for coffee and shopping, and Brisbane is famous for its weather and wildlife.

If it's the simple life you're after, look no further than Australia. Settle down by the sea or in the many idyllic country towns across the country.

Professional development is a constant in Australian medical careers. The country offers numerous opportunities for further education, specialisation, and research, supported by various professional bodies and medical colleges. Conferences, workshops, and seminars are frequent, allowing doctors to stay abreast of the latest developments in their field. The healthcare system in Australia is well-regarded globally, known for its high standards of care, progressive approaches, and technological advancement, contributing to a stimulating work environment.

Which country is the best for foreign doctors to work?

When it comes to salary and lifestyle Australia is ranked in the top ten best countries for doctors to work. New Zealand is also another great option, often ranked the most scenic country in the work it is a great place to reclaim work-life balance and raise a family.

U.S. News and World Report, in collaboration with WPP and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, recently published its list of countries offering the best quality of life. The ranking, encompassing 87 nations, was derived from a global survey of over 17,000 participants.

Countries were evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Affordability
  • Strength of Job Market
  • Economic Stability
  • Family-Friendliness
  • Income Equality
  • Political Stability
  • Safety
  • Excellence in Public Health
  • Quality of Public Education System

Australia came in at number eight and New Zealand at number ten.

Want some more information?

We have a dedicated team of Solution Specialists who are experienced in helping overseas-trained doctors make the move, they will guide you through the visa application, registration requirements, and suggest the medical pathway that is best for you.

Register today and one of our team will give you all the information you need to know and set you up for a successful relocation.

Medrecruit Editorial Team
08 April 2022Article by Medrecruit Editorial TeamMedrecruit Editor