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GP onboarding process in Australia
The GP onboarding process in Australia

The GP onboarding process for overseas doctors seeking to work in Australia can be extremely challenging and frustrating.

It is burdened by lengthy processes and red tape.

But much of these measures are necessary to ensure overseas doctors are suitably qualified and matched with Australian clinics in need.

There is an every growing need for general practitioners in primary healthcare, as the pressure grows on clinic leaders and overflowing emergency departments feel the strain.

But not everyone appreciates how long the GP onboarding process takes.

Nor do they understand that working with a health recruitment agency can make the process that much smoother.

We talked about this on the Living The Australian Dream podcast and have also outlined the details here.

How long does it take?

It takes between 12-18 months from the time a clinic decides to hire an overseas GP to their first day on the job.

The first step is for clinics to consider what kind of candidate they want.

Think about:

  • do you want a male or female GP?
  • do you want a GP with a particular specialty?
  • do you want someone to work full-time or out of hours?
  • will they be required to fulfil any hospital or nursing home duties?

Once you have settled on what kind of GP you need, consider what incentives you can offer to lure them to your practice.

Think of it as a recruitment package.

It might include:

  • sign-on bonus
  • visa sponsorship
  • relocation allowance

Working with a recruitment agency

Working with a recruitment agency has sometimes had a stigma about it.

But it makes good sense because there are many benefits.

Recruiters work incredibly hard behind the scenes to screen potential applicants.

They have numerous connections within the industry and advertise on behalf of the clinics.

They have hundreds of GPs on their database and pride themselves on matching the right doctor and clinic.

Devising a recruitment strategy

Once you have selected a recruitment agency, you need to think about a recruitment strategy.

What methods do you want your recruitment agency to use in order to find the right doctor for your practice?

They might include:

  • posting adverts on websites
  • social media
  • mail drops
  • phone calls

Assessing your applicants

You need to allow time for GPs to apply for the position – it doesn’t happen overnight.

They need time to write up their CVs and cover letters.

And you will need time to screen the volume of applicants you will receive and assess whether they meet your needs.

Prospective applicants also need to undertake a credential verification process on web platforms such as EPIC where they can upload their medical degrees to ensure they are eligible to work in Australia.

This will include comparability assessments to determine:

  • what pathway they are eligible to practice under
  • if they need supervision 
  • whether they need to sit exams before they can work in Australia

Recruiters vet applicants before they land in your inbox, saving you precious time.

This includes ensuring GPs are actually eligible to work in your practice, based on its location. 

Offering a position

Once you have interviewed a GP and wish to offer them a position in your practice, you’ll need to email them an employment contract to review.

This also takes time, especially if the GP has the document reviewed by a lawyer or is discussing potential roles with other clinics.

Some GPs may come back to you with various questions or concerns about the content of the agreement.

Others may request to speak with GPs already employed at your clinic to get a better feel for what they can expect.

Even if they sign the documents, there are still many hoops to jump through before they can begin working in your practice.

If they are a non-VR GP, they will need to sit a clinic-specific PESCI (Pre-Employment Structured Clinical Interview) exam.

This exam is based specifically on the demographic in your community to ensure they are safe to work in your practice based on their current skill set.

There is a waiting list of a few months just to sit a PESCI exam, as well as a wait time on the results.

Registration in Australia

Registering with local medical bodies is another time-consuming process.

Working with a recruitment agency helps speed it along by ensuring mistakes are not made.

This begins with AHPRA registration.

Because AHPRA only meet monthly to consider new applications, if forms are not completed accurately or satisfactorily, supporting documents are missing or if any further information needed, there will be a minimum delay of one month.

Fortunately, AHPRA ID checks are now done via Zoom or a similar platform rather than in person, slightly reducing wait times.

Submitting a visa nomination

Once AHPRA registration approval is obtained, practices can then submit their visa nomination.

These nominations come in two parts:

  • The clinic nominates the GP to work for them
  • The GP then responds, accepting the offer

The visa nomination and application can then be submitted and may be done concurrently to further speed up the process.

Applying with Medicare

When the visa has been approved, GPs can then request a provider and prescriber number from Medicare.

This can also be a time-consuming process.

GPs will also need to apply for a TFN (tax file number) with the ATO (Australian Tax Office).

This can only be done once they have passed immigration and are present in Australia.

They can then apply for an ABN (Australian Business Number) which will allow them to open a business transaction account.

Clinics that are hiring a GP as an employee may submit Medicare forms on their behalf.

GPs working as sole traders will need to have already opened their business transaction before applying to Medicare.

Soul traders are also required to obtain medical indemnity insurance before beginning work in Australia.

By this point, the GP onboarding process is all but completed.

Contact Health Recruitment Australia today

Recruiting overseas GPs to your practice is a great way to maintain staff levels.

But it is no instant fix.

And it all happens while doctors continue to work overseas, juggling their own personal and family lives.

If you are successful in luring a doctor to your clinic, they will need to uproot their lives, sell their homes, their cars and tie up many loose ends in their homeland.

The point is, the GP onboarding process takes significant time.

That’s why patience is of the essence.

If you think you might need a new doctor within the next 18 months, the time to begin that process is now!

And if you want to take much of the stress out of the process, working with a health recruiter is essential. 

HRA is a dedicated recruitment agency that aligns doctors of all ages with hiring clinics in Australia.

We are experts in the business and have numerous overseas GPs on our books seeking work down under.

We will work closely with you to find a GP who helps solve your staffing crisis and fits in seamlessly with your practice.

Why not start with an informal, no-obligation discussion with the experienced team at Health Recruitment Australia? Contact us.

Enquire now, and we’ll be
in touch shortly!


Enquire now, and we’ll be
in touch shortly!