What is life like working as a GP in Australia – We talk to a UK GP

What is life like working as a GP in Australia – We talk to a UK GP

We speak to one of our GPs who started working in a practice on Australia’s beautiful West Coast. David fancied a new challenge and a chance to explore Australia again before settling into retirement.

Why did you decide to work as a GP in Australia?

I enjoyed working in Australia 20 and 30 years ago and wanted to revisit. Working allowed me to get to know the community better and visit areas of interest which are less visited. It was a great opportunity to do this whilst being paid.

Coming from a GP background my trauma skills were rusty, I fancied a change and felt this was a controlled challenge with supportive colleagues. I wanted the mental challenge of something new and developing and using new skills and knowledge alongside helping patients.

Tell us about a typical Day in your GP role…

A typical day is 8.30am – 12.30pm in the morning, a 1-hour break (where the practice is closed and you have to go outside) and 1.30 – 5pm in the afternoon. My day is probably not typical of most GPs in Australia. I see 8 patients in the morning and 7 patients in the afternoon with around 20 minutes per patient. I’m paid a salary and certainly feel very well paid for what I do.

The last patient is seen at 3.30-4pm to allow time to wind up paperwork to close at 5 on the dot.

I work with aboriginal patients. About 60% of the Australian population is obese and this is higher in the aboriginal community. It’s not unusual to see complex diabetes, high blood pressure, lots of alcohol and drug misuse and social disruption.

There are lots of people to help, the patients have plenty of support from specialists. I can order a CT scan or an x-ray in a few days rather than it taking a month.

It’s really interesting work after 29 years of GP experience, I wanted to leave general practice whilst still enjoying GP work. I didn’t want more of the same and this is not the same!

Best Bit about your day

When time allows, to talk in depth with patients about their lives, when layers of reserve drop a little which allows for shared laughter and mutual respect.

Most challenging part of your day

There is a fairly disorganised patient population with chaotic family life and widespread endemic of drugs and alcohol and obesity.

How have you and your family settling in and would you have any tips for other GPs relocating?

We are settling in, our house is just perfect – overlooking the water, with a little garden and a big veranda to sit out on. Carnarvon produces 80% of WA’s home-grown fruit and veg apparently, there certainly is an abundance of fresh produce which is a delight, along with fresh fish and what has to be the largest prawns I have ever seen.

There is plenty to see and do despite, or maybe because we are in the outback. The sea is warm and on Saturday we drove up the coast to Coral Bay where we remembered snorkelling 20 years ago. The sun is hot, the sky cloudless and the coffee is good. Sunday we were on the beach and watching humpback whales migrating north along the coast to give birth in the warmer waters before returning with their young later in the year to the feeding grounds of the Antarctic. Wonderful!

I would recommend any doctor moving to Australia to allow a few days to adjust on arrival to get over the jet lag and the last-minute deadlines before leaving the UK.

It’s useful to sit in with other doctors whilst the provider number is being approved. This enforced couple of weeks, although bureaucratic is useful.

When I applied for medical indemnity insurance upon arrival, they needed the certificate from the Uk insurance company so it’s useful to request this before you leave.

The total cost for us was around $14,000 AUD including air travel. I would suggest having a sum set aside for financial reserves until you get paid. I’m not complaining however; the package is brilliant and the accommodation provided is outstanding.

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

The whole team were friendly, informed and supportive throughout the long process and quick to reply to queries. I would have found it impossible without their guidance, ground down by the bureaucracy. You would be mad to fly solo!’

Find out more about working as a GP in rural or regional Australia

How much do GPs earn in Australia?

Our Top 10 Tips for Relocating

If you have any specific questions or would like to find out how you could make a similar move please do get in touch.