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
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
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
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.
It’s that time of year again. The holidays are in full swing. But they will be gone just as fast as they came. We thought it’d be best to prime you with next year’s top 5 regions to explore now instead of waiting ‘til January. That way you can start lacing up your boots, packing your bags and be ready to go once the New Year ball drops. Or at the very least make some tentative plans to travel in 2017.
Fortunately you don’t have to drop your career for any length of time. Within these wondrous regions we have an abundance of locum tenens opportunities for you to take advantage of. Whether your heart is drawn to wander about the countryside or your stomach is hankering to discover the best restaurants in the city, any of these regions will supply you with ample amenities. What’s more you can see how physicians in different practice settings – possibly different countries – deliver care.
As always, if you’ve been to any of these places, feel free to share your favorite adventures. A world of possibilities awaits you within these 5 striking regions.
Tasmania – East Coast
What can be said about Tasmania that hasn’t already been said? A lot. We’ve barely scratched the surface, barely touched the coast in all our writings. That’s why we’re bringing the East Coast to your attention.
Did you know there are a slew of national parks spread along this part of Tasmania? You’ve got Freycinet National Park with clear waters, pink mountains and Wineglass Bay. Then there’s Maria Island National Park where you can climb to the top of Mt. Maria (2,332 feet up) and witness all-encompassing views of Tasmania. And Douglas-Apsley National Park (named after the streams that wash through the region) is a can’t-miss, too, what with its thick eucalypt forest, deep gorges and magnificent waterfalls.
How to make it the ultimate trip:
Take to the open road. You can hit all the above and more in one fantastic journey called the Great Eastern Drive.
Michigan – The Upper Peninsula
The Upper Peninsula in Michigan has national parks, historic sites, over 40 lighthouses, shipwrecks, waterfalls and packed forests all ready to be explored. Even in winter you can experience so much beauty in such a small stretch of America.
For example, head to Isle Royale National Park for an introduction to pure wilderness. 53 miles away from the nearest town, Isle Royale can only be accessed by ferry, floatplane or passenger ship. Believe it or not this national park is one of the least visited in the country. Don’t let that deter you. It’s not visited much because of its remoteness. But that adds to its appeal. Keep in mind this massive archipelago is only open to visitors from April 15 – October 31.
How to make it the ultimate trip:
If you don’t want to wait until summer we recommend taking an entirely different ferry to Mackinac Island (pronounced Mack-in-aw), which is open year-round. While this island is actually located between the Upper Peninsula and Lower Peninsula we still suggest a day or two here not only to explore Michigan’s diverse landscape but its incredibly rich history, too.
Hawaii – Windward Coast
The very word Hawaii conjures up images of unrivaled beauty. Green peaks scrape the sky and fall all the way to the Pacific. The landscape that surrounds inspires most to relax, some to surf and a select few to drop everything and move to these shores.
The Windward Coast might be the place that finally convinces you to stay indefinitely. If you need a nudge then head to Nuuanu Pali Lookout, a five-mile drive northeast of Honolulu. Your head will be in the clouds and your eyes will cease blinking solely to capture as much of the Koolau Cliffs as possible. Other points of interest along the Windward Coast are Makapuu Point Lighthouse, Valley of the Temples and Kailua Beach Park.
How to make it the ultimate trip:
Spend a day in Kailua, a town roughly 30 minutes northeast of Honolulu. Known for its turquoise waters and white-sand beaches the scenery can’t be beat. But if you want more than just pretty views then hit up the farmers’ markets, hip boutiques and delicious restaurants that are abundant in this town.
Oregon – Coast
The coast of Oregon is a long sweep. It’s tough to pick just a few spots to check out. Still you can already see the mist-blanketed sea stacks and quaint oceanside towns we’re about to describe, can’t you?
Like Florence, a river- and seaside city just about halfway between the northern and southern borders of Oregon. To get your fill of scenery visit Heceta Head Lighthouse and Sea Lion Caves nearby. Then hit up the Waterfront Depot for the tastiest of seafood.
How to make it the ultimate trip:
Cannon Beach has to be one of the only places in the world where people are happy to don their sweatshirts simply to chase that almost unreachable feeling of silent awe. And the cause of that awe? Haystack Rock of course. This 235-foot-tall sea stack just off Cannon Beach could be the most famous ocean monolith in the entire United States but we’re just guessing.
Our recommendation: stand in amazement for a moment then take a peaceful stroll along the beach.
South Carolina – Coast
It wasn’t intentional by any means but you’re starting to notice a theme, aren’t you? Except one region we’ve outlined, the rest are coastal. We suppose we’re urging you to travel to the oceans of the world. Though a massive body of water does border the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, too. No matter. We’re here to end the list with the coast of South Carolina, home to such greats as Hilton Head Island, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.
Granted there are 2,876 miles of tidal coastline so if you only have time to make it to a few places we do recommend the wonderful places we’ve outlined above. Hilton Head Island has its dramatic marshland and some of the most jaw-dropping white-sand beaches along the Atlantic. Charleston is historic and imbued with picturesque architecture overlooking the ocean. And Myrtle Beach…well it’s renowned for many remarkable things, one of which is its world-class golf.
How to make it the ultimate trip:
Stay in Charleston for a while, a romanticism exists here unlike any other. What to do? Pick a direction on any cobblestone street and start walking. You’ll encounter antebellum buildings and a slew of delicious eats.
What now? There's no better time like the present to start planning your 2017 travels. Oh and be sure to consider any of the above locales when searching for your next locum tenens assignment.
Happy 2017 travels!
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Tasmania. Mountain bikers have kept quiet about the outstanding trails here, but on an island crawling with outdoor adventurers a secret like this is tough to keep quiet.
The characteristic dolerite columns so prized by rock-climbers and rapellers (abseilers) are especially dramatic here. Wildflowers abound in summer, and despite the stony plateaus there are also dense forests and moorlands that make most of us think of, say, Scotland. Mention Tasmania and most people think of skiing. Yet Ben Lomond National Park, which encompasses the Mountain Range of the same name, offers a challenge for anyone who loves pedal power. It’s called Jacob’s Ladder.
By Kathryn Starkey, MD, and Molly Evans
By Kathryn Starkey, MD, and Molly Evans
We had a few days to kill, so we decided to head south - across the Tasman Sea - to Hobart, the capital city of Tasmania. We were a bit overwhelmed to learn that over 100,000 people call Hobart home; however, we soon realized that Hobart is more like a village than a big city. The old-world city streets, combined with the fact that we were staying in a 100-year-old refurbished horse stable, led us to believe this was no bustling metropolis.
We didn’t completely appreciate the incredible sustainable food and wine production on the island until we had the opportunity to visit Salamanca Place. What we found were a collection of old stone warehouses built by convicts in the 1800’s, all filled to the brim with purveyors of fine foods, local wines, baked goods, artisan cheeses and restaurants. Local fishmongers sold their goods from Victoria dock, which we soon discovered was the center of the waterfront activity.
Every Saturday, the Salamanca Market is in full swing. There are over a 250 stalls that line the streets; each specializes in Tasmanian produce, honey, jams, wool products, wood-fired baked bread, cheeses, wood crafts and every form of the Tasmanian Devil known to the artistic mind. Our first day at the market, we enjoyed an egg and bacon roll with what the locals call, “the lot." The Aussie "Brekkie" sandwich included egg, ¼ lb of ham, grilled tomato, cheese, mushroom and a sauce of your choice all on a massive toasted, buttered roll. Yummy!
Later, we visited the Tassal Salmon Company - a beautiful store filled with farm-raised, fresh and smoked salmon. They conduct cooking demonstrations a few days a week throughout the year. It’s a great way to learn new ways to prepare salmon and enjoy a free lunch, too.
Our visit wouldn’t have been complete without a trip to Hobart’s own distillery and brewery, Lark Distillery. Known for its exceptional barrel-aged, single malt whiskey and its unique Tasmanian Bush Liqueur, Lark isn't alone on the island. There's Cascade Brewery, which is Australia’s oldest continuously operating brewery. Needless to say, we employed a few cold ones to wash back that smoked salmon.
Although we couldn't stay more than a week, the locals reminded us that summer would soon be there, and so, too, another bounty of great food. At the end of December, Hobart plays host to a seven day “Taste Festival” which coincides with the famous Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
By far, this has been our favorite place to visit. The locals constantly remind us that Tasmania is “a world apart, but not a world away.” We welcome company to latitude 40-44 degrees south. Cheers!
Dr. Kathy Starkey, an OB/GYN, and her partner, Molly Evans, have chosen locum tenens as a permanent lifestyle. Their adventures have taken them to New Zealand's North and South Islands, the Caymans, Western Australia (twice) and the small Australian state of Tasmania. They're such great storytellers that they appear in our blog often, so watch right here for more amazing tales from Down Under and beyond.