Disclosure. The scribblers at DDU have worked/do work in agency medical recruitment as well as for medical health services.
Also, I swear in this post. Sorry.
As a Consultant/Specialist or GP, choosing to work with an agency medical recruiter to facilitate your move to Australia will have important implications. Choosing the right one is critical as we’re all in it together.
Just like surgeons, you get the odd crap recruiter but if you follow my advice, you’ll see the benefits of using one and how to choose a reasonably decent one. A medical recruiter I mean, not a surgeon.
By medical recruiter I don’t mean some old Mavis or Reg in a small workforce management unit of some backwater health service. I mean an agency medical recruiter. A well coiffured, smart young thing desperate to earn some commission to pay for their breakfast avo on toast, Friday night shots or childcare.
How do you go about choosing one? Aren’t they all the same? Most of the agency recruiters bringing OTDs (overseas trained doctors) into Australia tend to advertise the same job, offering the world. How do they differentiate? What is the make up of a good medical recruiter?
A good recruiter will be your workhorse and advocate along all the steps of this shitty process to get you to Australia. A good recruiter will have experience of the country or at least be extremely knowledgeable to advise re housing, education, tax etc. or point you in the right direction if they don’t have a clue.
The medical recruitment agency you use will need to have a dedicated medical & college registration team. A decent agency will have this resource to protect their commercial investment – the investment being you (once you have secured a job through them).
Employers appreciate this particular service as they don’t have people in their own workforce/HR units to provide it. Agencies build the cost of this service into the fees they charge their client – your employer. There is no cost to you then if you have accepted a job through them.
For Consultant/Specialists, the medical registration and college assessment process ahead is fraught, labyrinthian and Kafkaesque. Having a third party whose shoulder you can sob on, who will project manage you to meet your deadlines, spend literally hours on the telephone (mostly on hold) on your behalf to various statutory bodies and generally be your dogsbody for a year, is ESSENTIAL.
Ask the agency once they help you find a job if they will navigate you through the primary qualification verification, college assessment, Australian Health Practitioner Regulatory Agency (APHRA) and visa stage. Ask how much experience the agency has with the particular college assessment of your specialty.
I believe to be a competent medical recruiter in the Australian system, a recruiter will need at least 18 months of medical recruitment experience and at least 18 months of servicing Australian health care services.
Once you make contact, gauge if you have a good rapport – enough to trust them with helping you make arguably the biggest decision of your life. You’ll be chatting with them for approx. a year so you need to have a good relationship.
Ask them about their track record in your specialism, have they been to Australia? What do they know about the school system, geography and the political climate. How do they present your cv to employers, at what point do they contact your referees? Is the recruiter in your timezone so they they can be easily reached?
If you do end up with a job offer independent of a recruitment agency, it is worth paying an agency for their medical registration and college assessment service. Expect to negotiate and pay anything up to AU$1000 – cost will be dependent on their existing workload.
Like a mild dose of oxycodone, it won’t eliminate all the pain but it sure as shit will help.
Those Consultant/Specialists who do make it to Australia without using the services of an international medical recruiter must be crazier than a cut snake! Sure, you can do it. You’re scientists, top of your profession. You can do anything. You can also choose to chew your own arm off. Do you really want to face the shitfight that lies ahead alone? Spending hours on a recruitment portal only for it to crash. Dealing with the medical college, interpreting and filling in the paperwork. Will you have the energy to follow up where you’ve sent your cv? To make late night phone calls? Can you manage the ennui inducing , soul sapping process of form filling, wrangling and negotiating with faceless bureaucratic automatons? Do you really want to do that without professional help?
Good luck to you if you do.
All you’re doing is making a rod for your own back, jumping into quicksand, exposing your professional scars and years of experience to potentially unmotivated health service medical administrators who couldn’t give a fudge when you put your application in or if your special interests are indeed very, very special and you just need a decision from them so you can move on with your life.
An agency recruiter’s happiness depends on your happiness. Your pain is their pain. Their family holiday to Bali may depend on your happiness and well being. Getting you a job may determine if they eat stuffed or pitted olives. They are commercially incentivised to get you a job, within the quickest available time, with the least amount of hassle for all stakeholders. When you start work in your new life, they get their commission – everyone’s a winner baby.