How to Become a Doctor in Australia (8 Steps)

Australia is a large country comprising the entire continent of Australia and other smaller islands on the Pacific Ocean. The majority of the population is urbanized and situated on the East Coast of the continent, where most of the largest cities are located. There is a lot of diversity in the landscapes depending on where you are in the country, with large deserts in the middle, large rainforests on the north, and mountains in the south-east.

Just like its nature, the population in Australia is very diverse, with people from all over the world moving there to start their life in one of the most highly developed nations out there. In fact, over 30% of the population are immigrants, which is the largest percentage out of any country with over 10 million people. Medical professionals are no exception, and in this article, we will talk about how one can become a doctor in Australia.

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1. Learning the language and language requirements for becoming a doctor in Australia

The national language in Australia is English. Australian English developed throughout the 19th century as settlers from all over Great Britain moved to Australia and slowly started to develop a distinct version of the English language, with a different pronunciation, accent, grammar, spelling, etc. Apart from a few different words, though, people who already speak English will have no problem with communication in Australia.

In order to work in Australia as a doctor, you need to provide evidence that you possess a satisfactory level of English language knowledge. This evidence can come in the form of different certificates such as TOEFL, IELTS, and a few others. The English language standard is, in fact, one of the five standards you need to fulfill to become a doctor, under the National Law.

2. Study Medicine in Australia if possible

Australian universities have long been one of the most popular ones among international students. Medicine, in particular, has attracted a lot of attention, as the quality of medical education and training in the country is exceptionally high. There are 5 Australian universities that find themselves on the list of the top 50 medical universities in the world.

Most medical education programs in Australia last for a period of 5 to 6 years, with the first 2-3 years being pre-clinical, and the last 2-3 years clinical-based. The pre-clinical phase is focused on developing the student’s theoretical medical knowledge, and slowly introducing principles of patient care and other more basic clinical skills. The clinical phase consists of various clinical placements for students, through which they can further learn and develop their clinical skills.

That being said, getting into one of these programs can be pretty difficult, and requires very high grades in high school, particularly in the subjects of chemistry, physics, math, and biology.

3. Required Tests

Apart from passing an English language test such as the IELTS, there are also a few other tests all aspiring doctors need to pass before becoming medically licensed in Australia. All international graduates need to contact the Australian Medical Council to arrange an assessment of their medical background, degrees, and skills, and determine the further steps they need to take in order to become registered.

Most of the time, this involves taking a series of exams, such as the AMC Multiple Choice Question Exam, and the AMC Clinical Exam. The MCQ exam consists of 150 questions and is taken on a computer, while the Clinical Exam has 16 distinct clinical cases, and at least 10 are required to pass.

4. Residency

Following medical education, all graduates are required to complete a one-year residency in a hospital to become a doctor in Australia. Candidates are required to apply for and find their own arrangements, while international on-shore applicants have the option to apply via the Junior Doctor Training Program – PHS. More info about this program can be found here.

If you complete your residency overseas, it will not count and you will have to complete an additional 12 months of supervised training in Australia, before becoming eligible for medical registration.

5. Getting Medical License

After the completion of the one-year internship or training program in Australia or New Zealand, as well as the other previously mentioned requirements, doctors immediately become awarded with general medical registration by the Medical Board of Australia. There are five registration standards that all candidates need to meet to become registered.

Registration needs to be renewed every 12-months for all general practitioners, specialists, or non-practicing doctors and the date of renewal is the 30th of September. If you fail to renew your registration within one month of the set date (30th September), you will be removed from the national register and will have to go through the entire registration process all over again.

6. Getting a Work Visa

Doctors and most other medical professions fall in the skilled occupations list in Australia. There are many pathways you can take when acquiring an appropriate visa, and this will depend on whether you have already found employment, whether you are looking to be a GP or specialist, and other factors. The best thing you can do to find out more about which visa is most suitable for you is to visit the Department of Home Affairs website or enquire with the Australian consulate in your home country.

7. Starting your own practice or finding hospitals to work in Australia

The health sector in Australia is growing, and with that, the demand for highly qualified international professionals is also rising. This should make it very possible for an aspiring doctor to find employment at an Australian hospital, but it can also be the most difficult step, even more, difficult than getting registered, especially if the doctor has no previous experience in Australia. Immigrants from other English-speaking countries like the US, UK, or New Zealand can find work the easiest and are in very high demand. You can look for positions online or apply directly to the hospital of your choice.

To start a private medical practice in Australia, you need to apply for a Medicare provider number, which will allow your patients to claim rebates for your services through the Medicare program. As you continue to practice, you will also need to notify the AHPRA of any changes. An Australian Business Number is also required, and contacting the Australian Tax Office should be the first step you take when enquiring about possibly starting your private practice.

8. Procedure for foreign-trained doctors to become a doctor in Australia

Doctors trained outside of Australia or New Zealand first need to complete a mandatory 12-month training program in Australia if they wish to work as a doctor in Australia. However, that is not the final step before registration, as they will also need to pass a series of exams by the Australian Medical Council.

These exams can be particularly difficult for candidates who don’t have a solid grasp of the English language, even if they have previously passed the IELTS or another similar exam. After passing these exams, foreign-trained nationals are eligible to become registered to work in Australia and can start looking for employment or immediately apply for a visa, and look for a job after moving to Australia.