A Day in the Life of a GP in Australia

In this blog, we will take you on a journey through a typical day in the life of a GP, Emma, who recently moved as a GP to Australia.

What made you decide to move to Australia as a GP?

I worked in hospital jobs there over 20 years ago and met my Australian husband so it was always on the cards to go back at some point but was never the right time due to family and other commitments. Recently we decided that the time would be right in terms of the children’s ages and the poor state of General Practice in the UK. 

Tell us about a typical day in your GP role as a GP in Australia.

I have quite a long commute (50 minutes) so leave the house at 7 am. It is a straight drive though with no jams. I start my morning clinic at 8 am and consult at 20-minute appointments until around 12. I have an hour lunch break then another clinic in the afternoon with the last patient booked at 4.20. There are no home visits. I see 21 patients in a whole day and probably spend <30 minutes doing admin. There is no on-call system and occasionally there are 1 or 2 extras. I usually leave by 5 pm and am home before 6. On a Friday the practice closes early so I am finished before 4.

The best bit about your day?

Not running late! Because the appointments are longer there is more time to spend with patients and even if they go over time you will then get paid extra. The whole experience is much less hurried and therefore you have time to chat with patients and get to know them better. There is often extra time to catch up or do admin between appointments as some people only come for quick things eg prescriptions.

The most challenging part of your day?

I still do not fully understand the Medicare system and who pays for what and when. It is very complicated and adds another dimension to the consultation knowing that people have to pay for medicines and some investigations and treatment.

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

There is more of an outdoor lifestyle due to the weather which is almost always warm and sunny here in Queensland. There are lots of nice places to visit although there is more driving involved as everything is more spread out. The people are friendly and welcoming. Our children are finding the school experience more relaxed and less exam focussed than in the UK and for us, the work/life balance is better.

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

We have settled in well but already having my husband’s family here has helped. Waiting for provider numbers before starting work is frustrating but also gives time to adjust. I would advise trying to save as much as possible before moving as almost everything is more expensive than in the UK and the initial costs are large, although you will make it back eventually with higher earnings.
Stay patient with the initial paperwork stage. It can seem overwhelming, especially when problems crop up, but it does come right in the end.

How have you found the transition from general practice in the UK to Australia?

The patients come in with all the same sorts of things so in that respect it is very similar, although here in Queensland there is a lot more skin cancer! The systems are very different though. It is much easier to get investigations in a timely manner.  Prescribing is more complicated than in the UK. There is a lot more use of the private sector in secondary care and it can be hard to know who and where to refer to. On the whole, patients seem more responsible for their own health and accept that they have to pay for certain things. GPs seem to do more chronic disease management (rather than nurses) and there is more scope to do procedural work eg minor surgery which attracts a higher fee. Workload seems to be quite flexible in that you can choose to do more or less but that will reflect in your earnings.

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

Emma and Kirsty have been fantastic and we wouldn’t have got here without them. The process is very daunting and complicated but they take you through it step by step and are always on hand to ask questions or talk it through. If you are thinking about making the move, I would definitely recommend giving them a call. 

If this has sparked your interest and you would like to chat through your options,  get in touch with our friendly team who will be happy to help.

Further Reading