Australia

a primer for doctors thinking about living and working in australia.

Australia has a world class health system.

It’s major metropolitan centres are repeatedly listed near the top of global liveable city lists (house prices aside) and the United Nations ranked Australia second in its liveability index in 2011.

It’s economy has been growing since 2005. It shrugged off the GFC, posting sustained levels of record growth.

Arguably it is the most successfully multi-cultural society in the world. It is a country whose wealth, liberal democracy and success is down to its migrants. It is a truly great country in which to live, watch your children develop, take a sabbatical or to retire.

It’s natural environment is sensational and conducive to enjoying an active and outdoor lifestyle. If you love the natural world or the feel of the sun on the back, if you want your children playing outdoors or swimming in your own pool then the country offers all of this, wherever you end up living.

Over the years, popular culture and a powerful public relations industry has represented Australia to temporary workers and permanent migrants as the land of milk of honey, endless beaches, a sun kissed people, a land of egalitarianism – “the lucky country”.

The truth is – like everything – far more complex. Scratch a little under the surface and some paradoxes and contradictions emerge. Some of which are more specific to Doctors.

For example, there are shortages of medical specialists in rural areas. However, it is rumoured that there is collusion amongst members of certain medical colleges to prevent the employment of OTDs (Overseas trained doctors) consultant/specialists to avoid the prospects of any competition to their private practices.

Another example – Australians are perceived to be laid back and easygoing. However, this stereotype is contradicted by the lengthy, complex and procedurally driven recruitment, college assessment and medical registration processes which frustrate, confuse and often ultimately deter the most qualified and patient of doctors.

Australia’s shortage of medical specialists in rural and remote areas demands the continual supply of OTD GPs and consultant/specialists. Yet these procedures and processes are onerous, fraught with risk (levels of which vary depending on specialisation), can deter – and sometimes reject – the most sincere, honest, caring and professional doctors in providing essential healthcare in skill short areas.

In broader terms, contradictions emerge which are important to consider if you have been bombarded by the standard presentations of Australia as an easygoing, beach obsessed, sports mad country. For example, Australia has arguably the richest economy on the planet, yet the socio-economic plight and health outcomes of indigenous Australians should shame every Australian. It is a nation built by those who travelled to it seekng a better life yet it jails asylum seekers in offshore prison camps.

Australia is rightly regarded as fanatical about its sport, has more than 600 50m olympic sized swimming pools, and has 4 competing codes of a game that involves chasing a ball around a field.Yet, adult rates of obesity are at record levels.

Australia is a huge land of wilderness yet most of its population live in its major cities.

Australia has a world class health system. It’s education outcomes for its children are excellent.

It’s major metropolitan centres are repeatedly listed near the top of global liveable city lists (house prices aside) and the United Nations ranked Australia second in its liveability index in 2011.

It’s economy has been growing since 2005. It shrugged off the GFC, posting sustained levels of record growth.

Arguably it is the most successfully multi-cultural society in the world. It is a country whose wealth, liberal democracy and success is down to its migrants. It is a truly great country in which to live, watch your children develop, take a sabbatical or to retire.

It’s natural environment is sensational and conducive to enjoying an active and outdoor lifestyle. If you love the natural world or the feel of the sun on the back, if you want your children playing outdoors or swimming in your own pool then the country offers all of this, wherever you end up living.

Over the years, popular culture and a powerful public relations industry has represented Australia to temporary workers and permanent migrants as the land of milk of honey, endless beaches, a sun kissed people, a land of egalitarianism – “the lucky country”.  

The truth is – like everything – far more complex. Scratch a little under the surface and some paradoxes and contradictions emerge. Some of which are more specific to Doctors.

For example, there are shortages of medical specialists in rural areas. However, it is rumoured that there is collusion amongst members of certain medical colleges to prevent the employment of OTDs (Overseas trained doctors) consultant/specialists to avoid the prospects of any competition to their private practices.

Another example – Australians are perceived to be laid back and easygoing. However, this stereotype is contradicted by the lengthy, complex and procedurally driven recruitment, college assessment and medical registration processes which frustrate, confuse and often ultimately deter the most qualified and patient of doctors.

Australia’s shortage of medical specialists in rural and remote areas demands the continual supply of OTD GPs and consultant/specialists. Yet these procedures and processes are onerous, fraught with risk (levels of which vary depending on specialisation), can deter – and sometimes reject – the most sincere, honest, caring and professional doctors in providing essential healthcare in skill short areas.

In broader terms, contradictions emerge which are important to consider if you have been bombarded by the standard presentations of Australia as an easygoing, beach obsessed, sports mad country. For example, Australia has arguably the richest economy on the planet, yet the socio-economic plight and health outcomes of indigenous Australians should shame every Australian. It is a nation built by those who travelled to it seekng a better life yet it jails asylum seekers in offshore prison camps.

Australia is rightly regarded as fanatical about its sport, has more than 600 50m olympic sized swimming pools, and has 4 competing codes of a game that involves chasing a ball around a field.Yet, adult rates of obesity are at record levels.

Australia is a huge land of wilderness yet most of its population live in its major cities.

Everyone thinks most Australians go to the beach. Most actually don’t go to the beach.

Because of the nation’s fascination with sport, most people assume Australian’s lead healthy lifestyles and are fit. They’re not. Check out these stats, from the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (AIHW):

45 per cent of Australians are not active enough for a healthy lifestyle;

95 per cent of Australians don’t eat the recommended portions per day of fruit and vegetables;

63 per cent of Australians are overweight or obese;

27 per cent of Australians have a chronic disease;

21 per cent of Australians have two or more chronic diseases; and

20 per cent of Australians have had a mental disorder in the past 12 months.

What else?

Australia is known to be hot, but it also snows in some parts.

The Head of State (Queen Betty) is British but federal MPs are not allowed to hold dual citizenship.

Australia is both a representative democracy and a constitutional monarchy.

Darwin is closer to the capital of Indonesia then it is to the capital of Australia.

You get the picture.

DDU’s aim is to be a “Primer” for you, a web-based information hub used for instruction in the subject of working as a doctor.

We will guide you away from misleading stereotypes, prepare you for the bureaucratic jungle by presenting a real picture of Australia and its healthcare system to give you the confidence to deal with the services, recruiters, colleges and the statutory bodies – for a beneficial outcome for all.

However, the aim is for your, the doctor’s, comments and experiences to populate the site as much as anything else so please leave comments and observations.

 

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2 replies »

  1. Hi, I salute your enthusiasm in trying to make everything clear for International Medical Graduates (IMGs), it’s true that most of us have big expectations and pinky dreams when deciding to go to Australia, unfortunately, the real life is a bit different, at least at the beginning!

    I’m an IMG living in Australia for 6 months now, I went through the rigorous process of AMC Exams, it was really a nightmare. Now I’m looking for hospital jobs, which is really not what everyone expects either, as it appears that nepotism is widely accepted here, I got a few GP offers too, I think I’ll go with that.

    Liked by 1 person

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