We emigrated to Tasmania

GPs thinking of a move overseas would do well here, says Dr Andrew Croft.

I first visited Tasmania in 1988 during my elective, returned on honeymoon and later with the children. When we tired of the stresses of general practice in the UK, we thought of Tas. Knowing that there remains a shortage of GPs across Australia, I called a friend, and discovered GP Workforce, a non-profit, government-funded organisation that recruits GPs to Tasmania. A year later we had emigrated.

Tasmania is an island state south of Melbourne. It is the size of Ireland with a population of around 450,000 - and is reminiscent of Cornwall.

Green, rolling hills, vast World Heritage areas of wild rivers, lakes, rainforests, glacially carved mountains, all provide some of the best wilderness walking, fishing and rafting. Seafood is spectacular and local wines plentiful.

As a UK graduate, there are restrictions where you can work, usually rural or semi-rural areas. But Tasmania's size means that you are rarely isolated, and never more than 40 minutes from a teaching hospital.

The work is good. GPs are private, so you choose how hard to work - remuneration directly relates to workload. It does take a while to get used to patients paying.

Most GPs offer 15-minute appointments. Paperwork is minimal, home visits rare. There is out-of-hours work, but all calls are triaged and the workload is not onerous. And I take lunch breaks.

There are a few waiting list issues, and much heavier reliance on the private sector. But I love the easy access to investigations, which really improves patient management. And with fewer practice nurses, I can be more 'hands on' again.

Remuneration is lower than in the UK, but working conditions are better and the cost of living is lower. State and public schooling is excellent, and housing cheap.

The shortage of local GPs here is likely to continue for another 10-15 years. So, Tasmania remains ideal for a sabbatical or just a change before joining the rat race.

Vocationally trained GPs with MRCGP should have no problems finding work.

You need to acquire the FRACGP but this is a paper exercise. GP Workforce will match you with a suitable practice and guide you through the bureaucracy.

Come and join us - Tasmania is highly recommended.

Dr Croft is a GP in Tasmania and medical adviser for GP Workforce Tasmania

Visit www.gpatlas.org.au for relocation information and advice, and a link to GPWorkforce Tasmania.

Or email Dr Andrew Croft on mailto: acroft@gpworkforce.com.au. He will be visiting the UK this year to talk to interested GPs.

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