If you have ever considered working in the healthcare industry overseas, you may have considered Australia as a possible destination. In fact, Australia is a fantastic option you should definitely keep in mind. In the following paragraphs, we will tell you why Australia is a great choice for overseas healthcare workers. So, whether you are a doctor, nurse or physiotherapist, this article might help you make a final decision.
Australia, a country with a well-organized healthcare system
Australia is a large country and the healthcare system is organized on different levels. The federal government is responsible for the promotion of general wellbeing and health in the entire country; moreover, it covers the research funding on healthcare issues.
The state and territory governments handle hospital management and everything that involves mother & child health, dental health, etc. Last, but not least, there is the local government, which covers issues related to food safety, sanitation and hygiene, water quality (permanent monitoring).
Medicare, a universal healthcare system with extended access
All people have access to the universal healthcare system, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements (possession of an eligible Australian visa). Through Medicare, patients can visit a GP without having to pay; moreover, the system covers a wide range of prescription medication.
The system has been designed in a way that one can benefit from public hospital services free-of-charge. Depending on a person’s income, one can opt for additional coverage; this is guaranteed through the private health insurance. The main idea is that those who need medical care the most are able to access it, without any payment.
On the other hand, the private health insurance can cover hospital charges, as well as other healthcare services (physical therapy, podiatry) and different aids (such as glasses).
How can one access the healthcare system?
The first contact with the Australian healthcare system is generally through a general practitioner. One can also go to the public hospital, in the emergency department – this is done via an ambulance or through a physician’s referral. Of course, through Medicare, patients can benefit from additional healthcare services, such as dentistry, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. However, it is possible that such services are not completely covered; this is where the private health insurance comes in.
Working as a healthcare professional – it all starts with the registration
If you are interested in working in the healthcare sector, one of the first things you have to do is register with the relevant authority. The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) handles the registration of healthcare professionals, requiring that you provide proof of your relevant qualifications and English language skills.
The Occupational English Test (OET), developed originally in Australia, is one of the most commonly taken tests by those who are looking to develop a career in the healthcare field. It has been available since the 1980s, allowing test takers to demonstrate their English language skills in the healthcare context. The test is permanently developed, so that it stands as clear evidence of one’s linguistic abilities. You can find more information on OET here
The majority of the healthcare professionals who apply for registration with the AHPRA take the OET before the actual application. They use the results of the OET in order to demonstrate that they can meet the English requirements (including the ones of medical English).
What are the requirements of the AHPRA regarding English language skills?
In order to understand the requirements of the AHPRA regarding the English language skills, let’s take the example of a nurse. If you would like to work as a registered nurse in Australia, you will have present a B grade for each of the four skills of the OET – reading, writing, speaking and listening – within the last two years.
It is worth mentioning that the above-mentioned grade should have been achieved in one sitting; two sittings are also allowed, but within a period of six months. In the situation of two sittings, you must have taken all four skills each time and no grades lower than C are allowed.
What are the career opportunities in the healthcare sector?
It is useful to know that, in Australia, there is a high demand for healthcare jobs. This is, of course, connected to the increasingly aging population. The demand for employment is particularly high in the nursing fields, as well as physioand occupational therapy.
Australian people has a high life expectancy, which also means that the demand for healthcare services will only increase. Even at the moment, there is a shortfall of doctors and nurses, which means that you will have plenty of career opportunities in this sector.
Among the most in-demand jobs, there is the one of the aged care nurse, catering to both medical and social needs of elderly patients (daily basis). Clinical nurses and physicians of various specialties are sought after; the general practitioner job is also in demand, especially in the regional areas and countryside.
There are a lot of jobs for physiotherapists, as these specialists cater to the aging population as well. The social work sector is often understaffed, so the demand is high here as well.
Australia is one of the countries ranking high when it comes to healthcare system efficiency and quality of care. Regardless of the chosen profession – doctor, nurse, physical therapist, etc. – you have plenty of growth opportunities. As the population is aging, requiring treatment for a wide range of medical problems, you can opt for work relocation in Australia and grow as a healthcare professional.
Average income and pay rate in the healthcare sector
A registered nurse receives, on average, AU$49.03 per hour, with an annual salary of approximately AU$59.475. Physical therapists receive an average payment of AU$48.90 per hour, the annual salary reaching AU$64.559. Occupational therapists follow, with AU$51.94 per hour and an annual salary of AU$61.234. General practitioners are paid AU$143 per hour and their average annual salary is of AU$125,124 (more if there are bonuses offered).
By comparison, an Australian lawyer has a salary of AU$69.090, while a social worker received an annual salary of AU$60.115. However, the jobs in the healthcare sector are better paid than the ones in data entry – AU$48.793 average salary per year. Retail assistants have an average salary of AU$48.201 and receptionists of AU$46.926.
A final note
Working in Australia, as a healthcare professional, can be one of the greatest experiences of your life. You will be respected as a genuine professional, being part of a civilized society. As you will see for yourself, there are plenty of opportunities for professional growth. You can obtain your permanent residency and enjoy a prosperous life.
The Occupational English Test can help you obtain proof regarding your language skills, so that you can apply for the desired registration with the relevant national board. Once you have passed the test and your registration is complete, you can finally pursue your dream job!