Working in Australia

Hello again!

Some of you might want to know how working in Australia is like compared to Malaysia

The first thing I can say that everyone’s experience in different

I came from Malaysia with a background of ENT, general surgery and plastic surgery

When I came to Australia I was given a Senior House Officer (SHO) position for 52 weeks with an option to renew it

By then I did not want to enter a surgical based programme because I lost all taste for it

I wanted to have a work life balance and not be on call

I liked the breadth of knowledge rather than focusing on one discipline

I decided I wanted to go into GP

I prepared myself by requesting more exposure to O&G, paeds and ED.

I will talk about GP training in this country in another entry

This entry would be about my experiences as a RMO here in Australia

Working Hours

In Australia you are supposed to work a certain amount of hours in a week. You can work anywhere between 36-40 hours per week. You are paid per hour. The base pay depends on which state you are working at.

If you are rostered for more shifts, you will be paid according to your contract (it can be 1.5 to 2.0 times your base pay).

You get your payslip every 2 weeks (unlike in Malaysia where you’re paid monthly)

The finance guys will minus off taxes, Superannuation (like EPF la)

You can apply to a salary packaging scheme i.e. Remserv that protects your salary from being taxed. It can be used for rent/petrol/utilities etc – read up more about this

Making Clinical Decisions

As a RMO you are a junior member of the staff

Everything you do or get asked on by the allied health staff – RUN IT BY YOUR SENIORS

This is important especially in the first few months working in Australia

This is not Malaysia, things that are acceptable in Malaysia may not be ok here in Australia

Patient’s here are more aware of their medication and health conditions compared to back home

Do not brush of patient’s complaints or there will be a formal complaint against you

Always play it safe even if you know what you are doing.

Run your plan by your registrar or consultant before initiating it. You can also learn from their explanation

The good thing about Australia is that almost everything is electronic, this includes clinical guidelines

Each state or hospital service is different, but these guidelines are a useful resource for you to decide what treatment your patient needs.

There are ample computers available in every ward

Always follow the guidelines, do not deviate from them unless you have the backing of someone more experienced

This is not place to have “I rasa patient ini ada …”  or “Masa I dekat HKL …. “ and back it up with an anecdote or something a prof said to his/her master students and you picked it up while doing rounds in Malaysia.

 If you cannot back up clinical decisions with cold hard facts from the accepted guidelines, this can be trouble.

Career Longevity

Remember to pace your self

It’s hard enough to migrate from home to come to a foreign country and work

Do not burn yourself out

You came here to make a better life for yourself

Be kind to yourself

If you want to reward yourself with a nice trip to the city for “jalan-jalan, cari makan” by all means do it

If you want a video game console to help you destress – do it

If you feel stressed out with work please seek medical help. They take mental health very seriously over here. Being away from your support system at home is challenging. Sometimes talking it out with your spouse or close friends will help

Take little breaks in between

Always go and eat your meals. If the patient is not dying – please go and get something to eat

After your shift, handover your patients and go home

Once you go home please switch off work. It will give your mind a break from being at work. Disconnect your work email. Silent your work phone and chill.

Do not be afraid to look for better job opportunities. After you get your general registration and PR the world is your oyster.

If your current workplace is not aligned to your personal and/or professional goals, find one that is.

You can always switch between private and public hospitals. It’s not like Malaysia where if you quit government you cannot come back in


Australians treat their employees rather well in comparison to Malaysia

They don’t have punch ins or thumb ins machine.

They don’t expect you to fill up dumb paperwork to fulfil some Datuk’s KPI or such.

However, you are expected to work hard while you are on the clock

Be punctual, do all your tasks within your scope and handover properly

Be very careful about your own personal views especially when it comes to race, religion and sexual identities. Aussies are not the most politically correct (PC) people in the world but they are doing a good job in making their country inclusive of all walks of life. Do not under any circumstances exhibit racial or religious bigotry or being homophobic, transphobic in public or private or even give parenting advice for that matter.

Keep your personal thoughts to yourself. Keep your head down and grind on with your work. You are there to work, not change the world.

Do not goof off or go for long coffee breaks like back home in Malaysia

You will be assessed after every term (10 weeks) by your supervisor. Those assessments are very important as it goes back to AHPRA.

That’s all I have to say for now

The next entry will be about life outside medicine in Australia

Till then, stay positive!


Published by seblingcs

A Malaysian's journey Down Under

19 thoughts on “Working in Australia

  1. Hello there… Hope that u r keeping well… If I complete my specialisation at Malaysia and want to work at Australia, is that possible? How should I apply for it?


    1. Hi, it is possible but youd still have to sit for amc . The specialist pathway is something that you would have to read on the ahpra website. This is beyond the scope of this blog. Thank you


  2. Hi Dr, I am a final year medical student from Malaysia. I would like to ask you about the pathway to become a houseman/ intern in Malaysia. How could I contact you?


    1. Hi, I do not know the current pathway. I suggest you do your own research regarding that topic as it is beyond the scope of my blog. This is for doctors who want to migrate to Australia.


  3. Hi Dr, I’m going to complete my house officer next month. I’m planning to work abroad. I would like to ask you what are the requirements to apply medical officer at Australia. Kindly please guide me dr. Thank you.


  4. How about specializing in australia? Is it easier there or in Malaysia? I am currently in my first posting as a HO


    1. Specialisation is not easy wherever you choose to go. Competition is fierce in surgical fields. It’s easier to get into training in internal medicine, ED, rural medicine and GP, but all these fields are challenging in their own right.


  5. Thanks for setting up such a platform for us to gain more understanding. May I ask if pre existing health issues will hinder our opportunities working in Australia? What are the other work/jobs available for us in medical field if we choose not to continue with clinical practise?


    1. Hello. Health issues would have to be declared on signing any contract or visa application. Whether or not it would hinder one’s opportunity I would not be the best person to answer. The second question is really up to you figure out.


    1. Hello. Again it depends on which specialty training you are looking into. GP and Rural Medicine is fairly straightforward. Internal medicine too is easier to get in. Surgical training is tough. Anything is possible if you have the will and skill.


    1. Hi Keith. I would suggest that you finish housemanship in Malaysia first and get your Full Registration before trying for Australia. Intern jobs are reserved for their local or NZ graduates.


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