Locums for a Small World Blog

Want to practice medicine in Australia? Three doctors fill us in on work, play and the locum tenens lifestyle.

Posted by Everett Fitch

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There’s no doubt about it…Australia is, in a word, vast. Now, when we say “vast” we mean it. No single word in the English language is more appropriate in encapsulating the true essence of Australia. This country contains, in elegant manner, a multitude of cultures, cuisines, dialects, landscapes, oceanscapes and cityscapes all within its 2,969,907 square miles.

You’ve got Western Australia with its picturesque Perth and Queensland with its shining Gold Coast. Then you’ve got the gritty yet charming feel of the outback in the Northern Territory and the craggy island atmosphere of Tasmania. And still there's more: in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.

So yes, Australia is vast. To place any other adjective by its side would be tantamount to a disgrace. Three doctors who practiced medicine in Australia can testify to its welcoming greatness. They’ll tell you all about what to expect at work as well as what sights they experienced – in a nutshell, they’ll enlighten you on the locum tenens lifestyle here in Australia.

But before we get to their stories you should know that taking an assignment in Australia is about more than just the scenery. It’s about a life experience, a career change. It’s about being entirely immersed in a different culture and healthcare system. (Read: 3 interesting places to practice medicine in Australia plus a brief overview of their healthcare system.) Simply put, practicing medicine in Australia is a work experience you’ll never forget.

And as an Aussie would say, no worries: Your physician placement specialist will handle all the logistics along the way (licensing, registration, travel, etc.). They'll match you with a medical facility as well as put you in touch with the practice where you’ll be working. And if there’s a doctor who has practiced in that area before you’ll even have a chance to chat with them, help you get your bearings ahead of setting foot in the country.

All in all this process should take about three months once a job has been offered. If you’d like you can learn more about the requirements for taking a locum tenens assignment in Australia by visiting our Ask an Expert page. In the meantime, catch a head start on what to expect by reading all about the following doctors’ experiences below.

Isadore Unger, MD – Tasmania

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On practicing medicine in another country:


For Dr. Unger, practicing medicine in another country – especially one with socialized medicine – presented a few challenges. “There were differences in language and terminology,” says Dr. Unger. “Interns were called house surgeons and residents were called registrars or 'reggies' for short. And surgeons are never called ‘doctor,’ they're addressed as ‘Mister.’” Kiwis and Aussies do speak English, but they not only have their own accent, they have a few of their own words. Fortunately, the nurses helped Dr. Unger translate the jargon. “One patient told me he felt 'like a box of fluffy ducks,’” says Dr. Unger, “Which I learned is 'great.’”

Rick Abbott, MD – Tasmania

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On the differences between the U.S. and Australia’s healthcare system:

Beyond figuring out that a “long black” is Tassie's answer to a simple coffee, Dr. Abbott found out that both the healthcare system and work ethic are a bit different, too. “The ER was a great place to work. Because Australia is a national healthcare system, we had very little 'social safety net' to our practice and so we were a real ER. In other words, a very high proportion of our patients had an acute problem that required an acute intervention. We weren't trying to manage chronic disease that had nowhere else to go (as in the U.S.)." Dr. Abbott also praised Tasmania's implementation of an Emergency Medical Information Book (an organized booklet listing their medical and surgical history, active problem list, and current medications) that lots of patients carry with them.

On the adventures him and his wife, Jean Abbott, MD, had:

For his last month in Tasmania, Jean Abbott, MD (his wife, an ER doctor herself) joined him for some Tassie fun. The “Doctors Abbott” ventured to the capital city of Tasmania, Hobart, which serves as the home port for both Australian and French Antarctic operations. They also made their way to a few nature parks to see the wildlife that you'll only find in Australia: wallabies, kangaroos, wombats, kookaburras, and a lot more. They even saw Little Penguins or “Fairy Penguins” out on a quaint little Tassie beach. Ben Lomond National Park is a spectacular place and it's a haven for rock climbers, bushwalkers, and skiers. “Beautiful tundra - though we could only see a few feet of it at a time because of the thick fog,” Dr. Abbott says. “And wallabies were all over the place up there!”

Kathryn Starkey, MD – multiple assignments throughout Australia

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On the experiences you won’t get anywhere else:


"You know when you come to Australia that you're going to see some kangaroos," she says. "What we didn't expect was to see them chewing on the putting green at the local golf course!" It was an event that became a nightly ritual for Dr. Starkey and her partner, Molly Evans, not to mention the famous marsupials. "Watching the kangaroos bounce in – a lovely movement in itself – and chew on the grass at sunset beat anything on the four TV channels," says Dr. Starkey. "And who ever imagines they'll be hiking along and see a platypus swim by on their webbed feet, right there in the wild? A platypus!"

On the reasons for taking a locum tenens assignment in the first place:

As Dr. Starkey tells it, “I had a gynecology practice in the Finger Lakes area of New York, but no life. I went to work early, got home late, had dinner, watched a bit of TV, went to bed, and then did it all again. I told my patients to take care of themselves, but I wasn't taking care of myself.” What she had done was keep a postcard from Global Medical, which inspired her to take action. “I told Molly to start planning; I brushed up on my OB work and we took an assignment a year later." Since then, Dr. Starkey has lost some 40 pounds; she respects a 9-to-5 workday and leads a balanced life. The primary requisite in each new area is a decent library. “I now have time to read, and I love to get books about the areas where we're living and dive into them,” says Dr. Starkey. “I learn the history, the geography, everything. It's fascinating.”

If it feels that you still have unanswered questions after reading these first-hand accounts then read the full stories and more. In fact, we have an online library of sorts you can visit. It's entitled The Locum Life – locum tenens stories told through the eyes of our own doctors. You'll find out more about what it's like to work in Australia, New Zealand and even the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Interested in practicing medicine in Australia right away? Go ahead and view our current locum tenens opportunities in the Land Down Under with the click of a button below.

Search for current physician openings in Australia

 

Topics: South Australia, Queensland, Australia, Dr. Kathryn Starkey, Northern Territory, Western Australia, Dr. Rick Abbott, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, locum tenens lifestyle, Australian healthcare, Dr. Isadore Unger

Best restaurants, best bars and best pastimes in every single Australian capital city (pt. 2)

Posted by Everett Fitch

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The best thing about traveling to a new city is discovering it all your own. Every pair of eyes will see new cityscapes differently; every set of taste buds will experience the local cuisine uniquely; every person will feel different feelings when gazing out at a strange, faraway sunset.

When you travel to any one of these capital cities in Australia, we recommend you try hard to unearth as many layers of it as you can. See more sights. Taste more local food. Experience more nightlife. Explore more beaches and mountains and rivers and oceans nearby.

The deeper you dive the more you find out about yourself and the very culture you’re exploring. You begin to see all the multitudinous sides. The buildings and city centers and countryside that surround become more familiar to you as the days pass. They shed their mysterious veneer. Think of discovering a city as though you’re getting to know someone. Long after the pleasantries have passed, you may even persuade yourself to stay in one of these wondrous cities.

Do you plan to take a locum tenens assignment in Australia? If you do we suspect you’ll be hard-pressed to peel yourself away from this great country once the time has come. Simply put, you’ll fall in love.

Feel free to read part one of our two-part series examining the best restaurants, best bars and best pastimes in every single Australian capital city. Then come on back – because it’s time to round off the list for you with part two below.

Hobart, Tasmania

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Best restaurant:
Franklin

This consistently top-ranked restaurant hosts its kitchen smack-dab in the middle of the open-floor plan so you’ve got unrestricted views of all the madness and beauty that goes into making your elegant meal. As much as this place is about the ambience, people definitely come wolf-hungry for the food. The menu is rich with local produce, local meats and seafood and local wines and beers. Word of advice, book ahead.

Best bar: Republic Bar

Conveniently enough some of the bars we’ve listed so far double as a restaurant (and vice versa) so if you’re looking to knock out two birds with one stone, then you’re in luck. Republic Bar just so happens to be a pub that serves up fine grub, too. This joint is a favorite among locals for its upscale seafood and BBQ menu, not to mention it has some of the best live music in town seven nights a week.

Best pastime: Salamanca Market

This one was difficult. There are so many great pastimes in Hobart. We had to go with Salamanca Market. Every Saturday since 1972 this stretch of waterfront in Hobart is alive and bustling. The air is filled with ocean breezes, live music and fragrant foods. Plus the Georgian sandstone architecture is quite the sight.

Melbourne, Victoria

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Best restaurant:
Cutler & Co.

Thus far we’ve tried to incorporate both fine-dining establishments as well as some more laid-back food joints. Cutler & Co. though falls into the former more so than the latter. Another open-kitchen design, this restaurant serves up the most elegantly prepared dishes you’ve ever seen like the beef short rib with native pepper, parsley and horseradish. They do have a more, relaxed sharing-style lunch menu every Sunday if that’s more your style.

Best bar: Riverland Bar

Known as the iconic waterfront pub of Melbourne, Riverland Bar skirts the Yarra River in the shadow of Princes Bridge. Of course you can hang inside with your brew but why would you do that if you have an entire outside patio (suitably dubbed the “beer garden”) with resplendent views to enjoy your drink of choice?

Best pastime: St Kilda Esplanade

Not far from the city center you’ll find St Kilda Esplanade. This palm-fringed stretch of sand and boardwalk is an eclectic wonderland complete with captivating views of Port Phillip. It’s quite often humming with both locals and tourists alike. You won’t be wanting for more while you’re visiting, either: there are markets, boutiques, restaurants, bars, rollercoasters, you name it. And of course, there’s immaculate coast as far as the eye can see.

Perth, Western Australia

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Best restaurant:
Alfred’s Kitchen

Alright, back to basics. Welcome to Alfred’s Kitchen, a real burger legend in Perth. This roadside joint has been around since 1946 so you know they’re serving up the real deal. And if you’re vegetarian, no worries, they even prepare a mean lentil burger that the locals say is to die for. For you meat-eaters out there, snag Alfred’s famous, original-recipe pea and ham soup.

Best bar: Frisk Small Bar

Are you looking for a more intimate atmosphere where you can share great drinks with new friends? You’re in luck. Frisk Small Bar offers just that. Though they specialize in gin cocktails they do serve up plenty of other choices.

Best pastime: Rottnest Island

Okay, this one is a bit outside of town (12 miles off the coast, or about a 90-minute ferry ride) but we’re sure you’ll forgive us for not listing a best pastime directly in Perth once you step foot on this island – especially after you lay your eyes on a quokka. These tiny marsupials can be found throughout the island. Now on top of spying on these adorable creatures you can also explore coral reefs and shipwrecks, relax on one of over 60 beaches or just walk around with your camera for an entire day and take pictures of sublime ocean scenery.

Sydney, New South Wales

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Best restaurant:
Bennelong Restaurant

If you’re in Sydney you’re probably going to want to splurge a bit. (It might very well be Australia’s most iconic capital city.) There’s no better restaurant to do that at than Bennelong. Located right inside the Sydney Opera House, it’s been deemed the grandest of restaurants in the city. Where else can you marvel at one-of-a-kind architecture while having your taste buds blown away by crab ravioli? Nowhere, that’s where.

Best bar: The Lobo Plantation

Again, you’re in Sydney, you’re going to want to head to the best of the best. So head to The Lobo Plantation, a fine establishment that won Bar of the Year in 2015 by Time Out Magazine. Grab a local beer or your favorite cocktail and sprawl out with your friends in one of their mammoth-sized booths.

Best pastime: Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge

We would’ve chosen a tour of the Sydney Opera House but since you’ll already be eating inside the architectural wonder with our restaurant recommendation we thought we’d give you the next best thing, a 360-degree view of the city with the BridgeClimb. That’s right, book one of these tours and you’ll be up close and personal with this modern marvel. Don’t worry, a guide will be with you the whole way and all safety measures are taken.

Well that concludes our tour of Australia’s capital cities. Don’t forget to comment below with some of your favorite spots. All that’s left to do now is see what current physician jobs are available in Australia by clicking the big orange button below.


Search for current physician openings in Australia


Topics: Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Best Restaurants in Australia, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Best Bars in Australia, Best Pastimes in Australia, Victoria, New South Wales

Locums for a Small World Blog

Twice a month, our inquisitive locum tenens community asks us to tackle topics ranging from cuisine and culture to recreation and entertainment. We also include great storytelling from our doctors. Have a topic you’d like to read about? Let us know.

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