If you are keen to secure a GP job in Australia as soon as possible, here are some tips that will help you find a good practice more quickly. These comments apply specifically to GPs with MRCGP/MICGP who are planning to enter the PEP Specialist Pathway:
Agree to a 18-24 month contract
GP practices who engage a GP from the UK do need to invest in order to support you on the PEP program. A good practice will provide you with lots of informal support as you learn about Australia billing systems, differences in pharmacology, local referral systems and much more. Many candidates are asking us to source Australian GP jobs for 12 months only so they have the flexibility to move on as soon as they have completed the program and been awarded their FRACGP. This does not appeal to practices who have invested in your training for a year.
Understand that the practice is providing a mentor
At present, the requirement to have a mentor who meets AHPRA standards, is a major impediment to practices being able to take on UK Specialist GPs. Even if the practice is needing a GP and willing to provide a good package to a new GP, they need to find sufficiently qualified supervisors to sign a massive pile of papers from AHPRA. They will also be required to be available for questions and to provide feedback on your performance.
While this kind of support from other GPs might be the norm in the NHS, the Australian system does not recognise or reward supervising GPs for their input to your training. Unlike the NHS where all GPs are salaried, Australian GPs only get paid for the services they provide for patients. If they spend extra time supporting you, this takes away from their ability to see their own patients and to generate their own income. More importantly, they do not receive any additional payments from Medicare for supporting you.
In addition, the supervision standards are set and monitored by the Medical Board through AHPRA. Some GPs are fearful that they will need to invest a great deal of time to be able to support you. Although this is not actually the case, the perception is there and stops many GPs from agreeing to be a supervisor.
Make sure that you are talking to an experienced recruiter who understands the requirements
A good recruiter will only present you with positions where you will actually be able to comply with regulations and start a job successfully. Its not worth signing up for a job only to find that you cannot gain access to the PEP Specialist Program. A good recruiter will conduct the following checks before offering you a position:
- Will this job be approved for a Medicare Provider number?
- Will this GP be eligible for Registration with AHPRA?
- Will this GP be able to bill Medicare at the full Medicare Specialist rates? (Non specialist rates are 40% lower)
- Is it likely that a temporary work visa will be approved for this location? Will the practice be approved for a Health Workforce Certificate? Does the Practice owner have a visa sponsorship approved with the Immigration Department?
Be prepared to invest financially
GPs generally earn much more income in Australia while working less hours than compared with their previous jobs with the NHS. In the long term, you will be better off financially and personally for making the move to Australia.
However, the move to Australia will require you to invest some money. Apart from the usual international moving costs such as shipping your good and paying for your flights, additional costs include (but are not limited to):
- Temporary accommodation while you are waiting for your provider number. In recent times this could take up to 12 weeks, but the new processes (see article above) should see this reduced to about 6 weeks.
- Visa costs paid by yourself. Your employer will also need to invest in thing, but by law there are costs you must pay yourself.
- Registration costs with AHPRA
- RACGP application costs (recently increased)
- Furniture and fit out of your home. Luckily, we have IKEA in Australia which will get you over some of those initial investments without draining your bank account.
Be careful who you listen to
Many GPs consult colleagues who have made the move earlier and social media makes this very easy. Other GPs will often generously share advice and give you helpful tips. Take a moment to consider the advice you are receiving:
- Remember that each person you speak to can only accurately report on ONE experience – their own. While that is very valid and helpful, their experience might not be representative of what you should typically expect in Australia.
- The rules for GP migration to Australia change constantly. Even if your colleague landed in Australia 6 months ago, they may have been subject to a different set of requirements. For instance, the DPA areas in Australia have been updated almost weekly in the past 6 months. This can make a huge difference to which jobs are likely to be suitable
- They rely on ‘hearsay’ from other colleagues in Australia. Again, much of this is accurate, but sometimes perspectives are coloured by their own situation and once their experience has been passed on to two or three others, the message might have become slanted or twisted.
- Sometimes other GPs will relay their success in getting better working conditions. For example, they might report that they get 75% of billings in their practice. But the reasons for getting a higher percentage might be varied. For example, the practice might be brand new or the patient base is purely bulk billing. More importantly, they might have started on a lower rate, but after establishing themselves and fulfilling their first contract, they might have been able to earn the ability to have a higher percentage. If you are new to the country, you may need to start on a lower rate too.