To Aus or Not to Aus? That is the Question…
Have you been contemplating taking an F3 year? Are you a seasoned doctor looking for a break from the NHS, keen try a new environment? Perhaps you’ve always wanted the chance to see the Australian outback and work in rural medicine?
Whatever the reason, it’s very common these days for UK doctors to make a move Down Under to work in a new healthcare system while enjoying a totally different lifestyle. Whether this is on a temporary or permanent basis, we’ve worked with plenty of doctors whose experiences in Australia make it easy to see the appeal.
But it’s important to remember that what worked well for one doctor might not be guaranteed to work well for you personally, for a wide range of reasons.
This article will help you figure out whether this kind of move is the right one, and highlight some of the key considerations you should make – both personally and professionally – when deciding whether Australia is somewhere you want to live and work.
🤔 Be sure to consider all your options first
Living overseas can be extremely exciting and rewarding, but can also be challenging even for the most seasoned of travellers.
Even the process of facilitating the move is difficult, long-winded, and really can test your patience and dedication with the hoops you may have to jump through. Organising a year (or more) living and working in Australia will challenge you in ways you perhaps haven’t thought of yet, and will definitely require some perseverance.
First, consider all the possible options available to you. For those of you doing an F3 year, you should think firstly about what you want to achieve in your F3 year, and explore the many different possibilities you could explore - of which Australia is only one.
Once you’ve done that and are confident Australia is the place you’re eager to go, then it’s time to think about the specifics...
🏖️ The main benefits of living in Australia
A more relaxed work-life balance – The vast majority of doctors we work with who have made this move report back that the work-life balance in Australia is vastly preferable to the UK, with less stress and more emphasis put on enjoying your down-time.
Opportunities to try new activities and hobbies – Australia is perfect for a wide range of exciting outdoor activities and hobbies. Think about how you'd make the most of your time and what you enjoy doing, as this should have an influence on where you decide to live.
A (stunning) change of scenery – There's no denying Australia is a beautiful country. If you're used to living in a big city and fancy change of pace, think carefully about what kind of lifestyle you're looking for.
🏥 Working in Australia - Key things to consider
Settling into a new hospital and a new healthcare system – You'll obviously be starting work in a completely new clinical environment if you move. Are you happy to start from scratch with a new workplace and its different protocols, hierarchies, systems, dictation programs, and so on? Will you be comfortable starting work in an entirely unfamiliar healthcare system to the NHS?
Different workplace culture – Depending on where in Australia you move to, things could move a lot slower than they do here in UK hospitals. The workplace culture is also more relaxed. For some doctors that will be ideal, but for others it could be a negative. How would that affect you?
Differing levels of responsibility – Do some research into what will be expected of you at different levels and in different parts of the country. For example, you may end up working in very rural environments. Does the idea of being the only person on-site overnight, with your consultant only available over the phone, excite or terrify you?
More varied job roles – Are you interested in things like tropical medicine, envenomations, rheumatic heart disease and so on?
Long-term aspirations – Do you want to stay in Australia? Will you consider going into training in Australia, or stay out of training? How will that affect your career path long-term back in the UK?
🇦🇺 Living in Australia - Key things to consider
Distance from family and friends – Living so far away from home might not be a great idea if you're likely to get home-sick. If you're particularly close with your family and friends, think carefully about whether chats on Skype and FaceTime will be sufficient contact for a period of a year or so.
Personal circumstances – If you have a partner or dependants at home, will you be leaving them behind or can they make the move with you? If you own property, will you sell it or rent it out? What will you do about accommodation in Australia?
Personal growth – Are you looking to move to build your independence and self-reliability and grow as a person, or are you simply bored of life at home?
Getting to know new people – Remember that settling into a new place to live, and a new workplace, both take time and effort. Are you the type of person who makes new friends easily, or is there a risk you'll feel lonely and isolated?
The climate – Australia is significantly warmer than the UK, so think about whether this suits you or not? Do you fancy celebrating Christmas on a beach in the middle of summer, for instance?
The wildlife – There’s some amazing wildlife in Australia, but famously some of that wildlife can be on the extreme side. Large spiders, snakes, sharks, and crocodiles aren’t around every corner, but you'll have to be very aware of them in certain areas. If you struggle with those kinds of animals, you struggle living alone in some parts of Australia.
✈️ How to get the ball rolling
Once you’ve settled on Australia as your dream destination, and have decided a big move like that is truly the right thing for you to do, you can then begin to think about the details.
This is the first article in a series of guides to moving to Australia as a junior doctor. These will cover the differences between the NHS and the healthcare system in Australia, explain how grades and specialties work in Australia, explain how job hunting works, and explain the logistics of how to get your visa and license to practice medicine sorted! Click here to read more.
🧑⚕️ Messly is here to help
At Messly, we help doctors like you make your next move in healthcare. We’re working with hospitals and clinics in Australia and New Zealand to find UK talent, helping doctors from the NHS make their dream move down under a reality.
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