Working as a doctor in Australia is not all fun and games, warn British doctors who have taken the plunge.
UK health workers lured Down Under, saying promises of sunnier weather, bigger pay packages and better work-life balance aren’t entirely true.
Instead of beaches and forest walks, doctors claimed it was “serious” and still a “full-time job” and not a dream vacation, as some advertisements suggested.
Writing anonymously on the social media site Reddit, young doctors who made the jump confessed that they didn’t expect the transition to be “such a mixed bag.”
They also claimed they were drawn to ‘highlight reels’ on glossy social media of British medics who had already moved to tout the Australian lifestyle.
Dr. Michael Mrozinski (pictured), 37, says he felt “burned out after working in the NHS for seven years” and moved to Melbourne, Australia in 2016.
A medic, who now claims to work at a hospital in Brisbane, said: ‘The stories of greener pastures in the land Down Under, where the sun is always shining and wages are significantly higher, were too good to refuse.
“I’ve been here for four months now, and while I always knew I’d have a full-time job and no vacations, I didn’t expect my trip here to be such a mixed bag.”
They had come to the conclusion that working in Australia is only ‘marginally better’ than the UK and not ‘leap years ahead’.
Now that they’ve spent four months in Australia, they said, ‘It just has a lot more money and a significantly smaller population.
‘I also understand that no one wants to hear this, but coming here has really made me appreciate the NHS more.
“We are not far off in terms of the quality of care being given to patients, and all it needs is the money it makes and the pay raise that all healthcare staff earn.
“I’m not trying to discourage people from coming here, but I’m trying to help people with down-to-earth expectations. Living in Australia is classy, working here isn’t so great.’
Other junior doctors have also confessed that Australia is not as great as they expected or hoped.
Another junior doctor who worked in an emergency department said, “I understand it might be great for some people, but it definitely wasn’t for me.
That said, Australia is a beautiful, spectacular and vast country with lots to see and do. The people are open and friendly. They speak clearly and honestly, rather than coded and passive-aggressively, as in the UK.
“There are wonderful things about Australia, but in the end it just wasn’t for me.”
Some junior doctors who moved down because of the famously laid-back Aussie culture have also been taken back by their “serious” work ethic.
One of them said: ‘Aussies are very nice, but very serious at work. Not much to drink coffee or lunch together.’
The trainee doctor states that some people in Australia love it because they see it as a break and not a time to take exams or work.
Another ‘NHS refugee’ doctor-in-training who moved to Australia in search of better pay and a better work-life balance also admitted it fell short of their expectations.
The resident physician said they only started to get “cold feet” a month after moving to the other side of the planet.
They wrote: ‘I’m basically starting to get cold feet about my decision to train/stay here long term, due to a number of things including family members getting unwell and fully realizing the impact of being on the other side of the world its when s*** hits the fan’.
Other junior doctors have also described how difficult they found it to penetrate Australian culture.
One doctor, who has now returned to the UK, said: ‘People were friendly and nice, but had no interest whatsoever in involving me or other British doctors in any social activity.’
Aoibhín (pictured) has been a doctor for three years – she graduated in April 2020 from Queens University, Belfast, where she studied medicine – and has worked on the frontline during the Covid pandemic
Popular YouTuber Dr. Nora (pictured) moved from London to the Gold Coast in 2017 and has never looked back, but admits it’s not for everyone
“It was depressing. I’ve made good friends with other British doctors, but to be honest I have no contact with local doctors at all, not because I haven’t tried.’
They also stress that it’s “the luck of the draw” that you end up in Australia as if you weren’t in a city where you could feel isolated.
They said, ‘Australia is really, really far from everything else, and most Australian cities are really isolated.
“Flying back takes forever and I’ve gotten really good at subtracting 9-10-11 from most times of the day.
“I think once you settle in there you get used to it, but I never did. I just felt really sad and isolated all the time.”
However, not everyone who has made the switch is disappointed.
For some doctors, the move made them realize how accustomed they had become “to working in a resource-poor environment where a lower standard of care is accepted.”
One said: ‘When I first moved to Aus I laughed at how often they scanned things that would never have been scanned in the UK.
“Eventually (me) I realized that we had justified not scanning things in the UK because there was no scanner available rather than good clinical reasoning.”
For them, the move to Australia only made the staffing and funding problems in the NHS even more apparent.
They said, “It took me a while to come to that conclusion. I wouldn’t admit that British medical practice was so palpably poorer. I attribute this to the staff and resources available, not the laziness or incompetence of the staff that is there.
‘I would be happy if my family attends an Australian emergency room. I would pray they can avoid a UK ED.”
Since the messages are made anonymous, there is no way to verify the experiences described.
But another British doctor who took the plunge, Dr Drew, who declined to give his surname, independently told MailOnline that Australia is selling British health workers a ‘fairy tale’ that simply ‘is not the reality’.
He said, ‘It’s a fairytale…’ get over it, it will be the life of your dreams… You’ll be sitting on a beach sipping piña colada’ ‘… It’s not reality.’
Another British doctor, popular YouTuber Dr. Nora, moved from London to the Gold Coast in 2017 and has never looked back, but she admits it’s not for everyone.
The GP and cosmetic doctor, who has nearly 25,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel, worked for the NHS for five years.
Responding to Dr. Drew’s criticism, she told MailOnline, “These are legitimate concerns, not all the different Medicare billing codes to learn and develop a reputation for yourself as an independent contractor.”
‘It just depends on your mindset going in, if you’re looking for safety the NHS is a great place to be a part of.
Interest in life Down Under peaked for nurses and midwives in the most recent financial year, with some 4,000 applications
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Australian figures suggest around half of UK medics applying for a job in Australia are successful, with nearly 950 coming in 2021-22, compared to the 1,800 who applied in calendar year 2022
“If you’re looking for a little more adventure, there’s another great opportunity for you to explore.”
For Dr Aoibhín Bradley, 27, who left the NHS for Queensland’s Gold Coast in September 2022, the move has been worth it.
She recalled how she struggled with long shifts in the UK, sometimes even working three hours past her finish time.
Doctor Bradley took home £2,100 a month in the UK, based on a 48.5-hour week, but now she earns $6,000 AUSD a month – £3,202.53 – for a 36-hour week.
She previously told MailOnline: ‘You work to live – not live to work. Australia is more expensive, but I still earn several times what I made back home.
‘At home you worked so many extra hours that your life consisted of work. I lived in Northern Ireland and there was nothing to do in my spare time.
‘I was so tired – I didn’t have the energy to do much. In Australia, in terms of pay, it’s incredible. You are paid per hour you work. It surprised me.’
Another is Dr Michael Mrozinski, 37, who said he felt “burnt out after working in the NHS for seven years” before moving to Melbourne, Australia in 2016.
‘I felt burnt out after working in the NHS for seven years…in Australia management listened to my concerns and ideas for better patient care, while in the UK they didn’t care about the ideas I had.’
He added: ‘The main difference is that I enjoy my job because the work environment is great, the hospitals are well staffed and they relieve the doctors when there are few wards.
“This ensures that more people share the workload, rather than fewer people and more work, as in the UK. With more staff, more education is given and doctors can develop even further.’