Doctors – Considering a Move Down Under After Graduation?

Graduating from medical school and ready to start your career, you have lots of choices to make. One you may have considered is relocating to another country that has different opportunities than your current country. Moving to another country definitely has some challenges but considering some of the perks you may receive throughout your career it may be a decision to consider.


Should you consider relocating to Australia?

With hundreds of countries to choose from Australia definitely has some perks when considering relocating to another country for your career. Australia offers a better work/life balance than that of the US. Most physicians anywhere will work overtime, but in Australia it is less common to see them work over 10 hours a week of overtime. Only working 50 hours a week in the US as a doctor is almost unheard of! Most doctors in the US work just under 70 hours a week! That is almost the equivalent to two full time jobs, not to mention the emotional toll and mental exhaustion from this career. If you have a family having these extra hours a week to spend with them can be crucial!

As a physician in the US where medical coverage is generally privatized it can hinder how you are able to care for your patients. If they are on minimal coverage you need to discuss options that are financially feasible for your patients. If you are a physician in Australia their entire medical coverage is provided through public health care. This means you are able to provide all of your patients with the same choices when it comes to medicine and care. This is an outstanding benefit when considering what physicians go through in the US trying to provide good quality care for their patients when they know their patients aren’t able to afford the best care that is available to them.

The cost of living is slightly higher in Australia than in the United States, and the pay for physicians is also slightly higher. The cost of living is not so much higher than it would hinder anyone from wanting to move there, but it should always be considered when you are looking at relocating. Consider the current minimum wage in Australia is $18.29AUD, which is equal to $13.09US, and the US minimum wage is only $7.25US. The US can definitely take a few lessons from down under on how to provide for their citizens with a good economy, higher minimum wage and universal healthcare, there has been a reported 50 percent increase over the last decade of US citizens choosing to move to Australia.

The cost to move may vary from one person to the next, but consider selling what you can replace in your new location because the cost of moving your furniture, car and other large belongings will be costly to ship overseas. It is also highly suggested that when you move to a new place you rent first, get to know the area and locals and after a year you should be able to make a wise decision on where to plant your roots.

The Need for Physicians in Australia

Throughout history there has proven to be a shortage of physicians in rural Australia, and as such the government has worked to bring in overseas trained doctors, OTDs, to try and fill this void. Reported in the last decade that over 50% of all general practitioners in Australia were born overseas and just under 50% of all specialist in Australia were born overseas.

Since applying for immigration as a physician can be a bit more complex than if you are in another profession, you may learn that you are needed in specific parts, usually rural, of Australia. Most doctors that have immigrated must put in a specific number of years of service to areas in need before they are able to freely choose where they practise medicine. Restrictions currently require 10 years in rural or regional areas before earning your Medicare Provider Number, while the Australian Medical Association is attempting to move away from this requirement, it is possible to reduce that 10 year period down to about 5.

Comparing the life as a physician in Australia versus the US, the actual time spent in ‘residency or fellowship’ has a better balance for life over all in Australia. However, it does take longer. The US has lower pay and higher hours for this period in your career, but you can get through it faster. That brings the question up, is faster and more stressful better? Probably not when it comes to providing quality healthcare to patients and training new physicians.


Physicians are needed all over the world, and when considering where to begin your career, you need to weigh out all of your options. Consider options like practicing overseas in Australia. It can offer a better quality of life for you personally and professionally by not routinely working 30 hours overtime. It can mean not worrying about how your patients will pay for their medical needs and working with them to ensure they receive the best care, and possibly being able to take home less emotional baggage each night because of it. Lifestyles can be similar to that of the US but with less stress! Considering physicians have one of the highest stressed positions, considering your personal well-being should not be discounted just because moving to another country might involve some short term obstacles.