Should I Stay Or Should I Go: Why Doctors Tend To Prefer Australia
There has been a growing trend of GP’s considering relocation to other countries, because of unique job or career opportunities, or simply because it’s a chance to gain useful experience elsewhere. In general, this is in line with how Australians view travel, and we’ve never been shy about embracing adventure. Having the chance to see how the medical system works in Canada or the UK can be enriching. But many Australian doctors are returning home because they see it as a better place to practice medicine. And if you’re on the fence yourself, there are certainly a number of factors to take into consideration.
Private Versus Public
Whether you hate it or love it, nearly 40% of Australian healthcare is privatised. While this can mean great service and short waiting periods for patients, it also means that many patients who belong to low-income households suffer. In 2012, it was reported that over 5% of patients held off on a physician visit because of how expensive it would be.1
At the same time, privatized healthcare doesn’t suffer from the same sort of bureaucratic hurdles that public healthcare in other countries fall prey to. For example, in the UK there are a number of stringent bills hindering the National Health Service. And Canada is often in the same boat with huge waiting lines and wait lists.
It’s always a trade-off, and one to keep in mind when considering moving or staying.
Lifestyle and Philosophy
Relatively speaking, the life of a doctor in Australia is much more laidback than other countries. There is also a lot more hospitality given to physicians, in particular in more rural communities, and many foreign doctors list this as the primary reason they decide to stay in Australia.2
Beyond the ability to access stunning beaches and the hospitable environment, there’s a number of other reasons Australia has begun to attract the attention of doctors in other countries. Overall, you can expect to work fewer hours and have more laissez-faire working conditions here than in other countries.
Owing to these variables, Australian doctors are starting to see the benefits of staying ‘down under’. But this doesn’t have to hinder your travel plans. A considerable number of NGOs and volunteer organizations are often looking to fill temporary positions. And while relocating elsewhere may in fact be the right choice for some of you, it’s nice to have the assurance in the back of your mind that you can always go home.