Discover what life is like for a GP working in Australia

We chat to Dr Jamie, a GP who recently moved to Queensland, Australia

What made you decide to move to Australia?

I was feeling burnt out working as a GP in the NHS and looking for a change in direction. I had planned to Locum as a GP in Glasgow then travel for a few months but with the pandemic this wasn’t possible. I then decided to look for jobs abroad and Australia was top of the list.

I came across Transition Medical and the rest is history!!

Tell us about a typical day in your GP role?

So my day starts with a 20 minute ferry ride over to a tropical island where my GP practice is based. I live on the mainland in a fairly busy city, so getting to start the day with a relaxing ferry over to a tropical island is pretty awesome! Beats the long commute on the M8!

My surgery starts at 0830 and I finish at 1630. I see a wide variety of presentations but mainly elderly and chronic disease given the demographic of Magnetic Island. There are also plenty of acute emergency presentations and this can be challenging to manage given we are on an island. It keeps things very interesting however. There are also the odd tropical disease presentations like dengue fever and meliondosis, all very new to me but again an interesting learning experience.  I am also able to do more minor surgery and see a high rate of skin cancer presentations.

Best bit about your day?

The commute……heading off to the island in the sunshine each morning is just great. It helps set me up for the day and makes the day that bit less stressful. Although the GP presentations and issues are very similar to back home, the environment in which I work and live here makes the job that bit more enjoyable. Also getting to go out at lunch time for a stroll by the beach is a highlight!

Working as a remote and rural GP here I also get to go to remote community in my boss’ private plane to help with clinics in the outback and remote areas. One of my best adventures so far was flying out to a remote area in the Gulf of Carpentaria to scale a tanker in the middle of the ocean and swab the crew for covid. I luckily avoided swimming with the bull sharks!!

Most challenging part of your day?

If someone is seriously unwell, it can be stressful and difficult to co-ordinate transfer off the island for emergency care. However there is an emergency clinic which is great support.

How do you find the culture and lifestyle compared to the UK?

I find the culture very similar which is great as it makes me less homesick. The lifestyle is much more laid back however and being a very outdoorsy person I love the fact that almost every day is sunny in North Queensland (I say this as its currently torrential rain due to wet season!) The life work balance is also much better than the UK.

How have you settled in and would you have any tips for other GPs relocating?

I feel like I’m still definitely going through an adjustment period and have been a little homesick especially over Christmas. But I am extremely happy with my decision to move and know that after a few months of hard work and getting used to the Australian healthcare system I’ll be settled. The opportunities over here far exceed the UK, not to mention the sunshine and beautiful tropical surroundings. Ive also met lots of amazing friendly people since moving which has helped.

Relocating is a big decision, involves a lot of stress and cost so be sure you want to make the move before diving in. I would definitely recommend using Transition Medical rather than try to do it solo as they took so much stress and anxiety out of the process.

How have you found the transition as a GP in the UK to Australia?

The medicine is the same no matter where you are but the processes and healthcare system are different here. It has been a steep learning curve getting used to how the Aussie healthcare system works but I’m well supported by my supervisor and practice team. The main difference is billing, privately charging patients for healthcare is a challenging addition to my consulting as I’m used to the luxury of everything being free with the NHS.

Finally, how have you found Transition Medical in helping you make the move to Australia?

I honestly cannot thank Emma and Kirsty at Transition enough for all their hard work and support. From the initial conversation to discuss my options and potential jobs, to facilitating zoom meetings with my potential employer and supporting me in making the right decision for me. They were so thorough at every step and handled ALL the paperwork for me taking that burden off my shoulders. I honestly don’t think I could have done it without them, there were so many hoops to jump through but Transition made it seamless. With the pandemic we had a very tough time getting over here, it was emotionally draining, Emma and Kirsty were there at every step to support us through it all and finally get us over here, I would highly recommend Transition medical to anyone looking to relocate to Australia, they are just wonderful.

My partner and I are so happy to finally be living our Australian dream on tropical Maggie and we are so grateful to Transition for making it happen.

Further Reading

GP Income for GPs in Australia

Working with Transition Medical – Free advice and support


Transition Medical Helping GPs move down under
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