This blog is open to comments, I also run a YouTube Channel and a Facebook group and frankly way too many other ways for people to contact me. So no surprise. I do get a lot of questions and queries on a daily basis. One of the surprisingly common and interesting questions that I do get a lot from doctors from other countries is “do doctors get paid to train in Australia?”. Being paid for work is part of our culture in Australia. But I am aware that in other systems you may not necessarily be paid when you train in medicine or even have to pay for your training.
So let’s try to clear up this question in this blog post. Along with answering some related questions that come up around this topic.
From the time after you graduate from medical school in Australia, you will be entitled to and will receive payment for your services as a doctor. This includes any further career stage which might be referred to under the label of training. So you get paid to be an Intern, you get paid to be a Resident and you get paid to be a Registrar (which is what most doctors who are undertaking specialty training in Australia are referred to).
Therefore, you also get paid when you are doing surgical training, physician training, psychiatry training, emergency training, general practice training etcetera. You also get paid when you become a specialist doctor or consultant, although in some cases you may be working for yourself, in which case, you are paying yourself out of the revenue you collect.
What does all of the above means for international medical graduates (IMGs)?
Do IMG Doctors Get Paid to Train in Australia?
The answer is again yes. If you are an IMG doctor and you get appointed to any training position, whether this is a resident position for the purposes of completing the standard pathway process or a specialty training (Registrar) post as part of any of the competent authority, the specialist, or the short term training in a medical specialty pathways. You will get paid.
Whilst wage theft and the exploitation of overseas workers in Australia have become a real concern in Australia over the past decade or so. I am not aware of any such situations that have involved international medical graduates. If you do know of such a circumstance I would be interested to hear from you.
Do IMG Doctors Get Paid Differently to Australian Doctors?
This is a more complicated question to answer.
As a general rule if you are an IMG doctor and you are recruited to a position you will be paid under the same classification as any Australian doctor also doing the same job. So if, for example you are appointed to a Resident position you will be paid as a Resident.
However, for most classifications, there are steps or levels that increase based on your years’ of experience. Sometimes the employer may try to start you out at the bottom of this classification scale, even though you may actually have more experience, citing that you don’t have any experience in Australia. So in this case you may end up being paid slightly less. In my experience, most employers in Australia will try to recognise your experience and pay you at a higher rate if you are eligible. This is a grey area in terms of what is correct. So it’s definitely worth querying things if you feel you are on the wrong end of the stick.
Why Do Doctors Get Paid to Train in Australia?
The answer to the question of why doctors get paid whilst training is that they are performing real and substantial services in these roles. The training is on top of this work or embedded into this work. They are generally not taking large amounts of time away from the workplace to attend things like lectures and seminars or workshops. Much of the training occurs within the workplace and a lot of the additional studying occurs in the doctor’s own time after work.
Many Doctors Do Have to Pay to Train
Hang on. What’s that? You just said that doctors get paid to train. But now you are saying they also have to pay?
Doctors do get paid to train in Australia. But there are some costs associated with being a trainee doctor in Australia.
There are the normal regular costs like paying your medical registration every year and having a car so you can get to work.
But there are also some specific costs associated with being a trainee doctor.
As an intern, you generally won’t have any particular costs associated with your training as it will normally be provided for you by the hospital.
As a resident doctor, you will probably be thinking about paying for some courses that might help you get into a particular training program. So things like emergency courses and anatomy courses and radiology courses and the like.
As a specialty trainee doctor, you will have to pay college membership fees, you may also have to pay for a formal education course and you will have to pay to sit examinations.
Personal costs for training as a trainee doctor in Australia can rack up to several thousand dollars and even pass into the tens of thousands of dollars range. But this is generally over a significant period of around 5 to 10 years.