If you’re about to dive into the world of working in medicine, understanding the clinical career structure for doctors employed in Queensland is a must. 

Believe it or not, the path to becoming a fully qualified doctor or medical practitioner is slightly different to what television portrays via shows like Grey’s Anatomy, House or Scrubs. To be a doctor in Australia, you’ll first need to be disciplined, astute, and of course – not afraid of long term commitment. 

Thankfully, it’s not a business that’s about to go bust anytime soon. According to statistics released from the University Of Sydney, a whopping 94.9% of medical students are employed within four months of graduating. When compared to other degrees or fields, this figure means that there’s never been a better time to become a doctor in Australia.

However, that’s not to say that choosing this path is an easy one. In order to become fully qualified, expect to dedicate years of your life to the cause with a lot of study. As a general rule, becoming a doctor in Australia involves eight key steps:

  1. Completing the Year 12 prerequisites while still in high school. 
  2. Graduate from a Bachelor’s Degree at university. 
  3. Sit the Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test and apply for entry. 
  4. Study a Doctor of Medicine, which is a four year masters level degree.  
  5. Complete an intern year. 
  6. Gain general medical registration through the Medical Board of Australia
  7. Complete one or more years of prevocational training for studying specialties. 
  8. Obtain fellowship through a specialty medical training program. 

Needless to say, this can quickly amount to over ten years of study, training and assessment. While this varies depending on your desired specialty, such as becoming a surgeon, specialist physician or general practitioner, the requirements again vary depending on which state or territory in Australia you wish to practice medicine in. 

Clinical Career Structure For Doctors In Queensland 

For doctors looking to study, train, migrate or settle in the Sunshine State, Queensland Health will generally be your first port of call, and has its own designated clinical career structure for those who are looking to practice medicine in the state. As a ministerial department of the Queensland Government, it’s responsible for operating the state’s public health system. and is regarded as one of the oldest government departments still in operation.

While there are a variety of career paths medical practitioners can take within Queensland Health, the typical and practical clinical career structure is as follows. 

Source: Queensland Health 

A Resident Medical Officer (RMO) is a Medical Officer who has obtained full registration and who has completed the equivalent of at least one year of full time clinical experience. According to Queensland Health, this title can usually be broken down into one of three categories. 

Intern – A medical practitioner who holds a practicing certificate from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency authorising an appointment as such under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law 2009. Interns are medical graduates who have been accepted into an intern training program under the supervision of their employing hospital. Generally, this will be the first year of practise, following completion of a medical degree. In this year, they must successfully complete various rotations under clinical supervision. Queensland Health is currently the sole provider of intern training in Queensland.

Junior House Officer (JHO) – Second post graduate year. A JHO is a medical practitioner in their first year of service, after eligibility for full registration as a medical practitioner.

Senior House Officer (SHO) – Third post graduate year. A SHO is a medical practitioner in the second or subsequent years of practical experience, after eligibility for full registration as a medical practitioner and who has not been appointed as a Registrar or Principal House Officer.

These resident medical officers work in teams, and are led by senior medical staff. They may also be further supported by Registrars in specific clinical specialties.

Principal House Officer (PHO) – Third and subsequent post graduate years. A PHO is a medical practitioner appointed as such who is not undertaking an accredited course of study leading to a higher medical qualification. A PHO position is an equivalent level to a Registrar.

Registrars – A medical practitioner appointed as such who is undertaking an accredited course of study leading to a higher medical qualification.

Senior Registrar – A medical practitioner appointed as such who has specialist registration with the Medical Board of Australia and is undertaking an accredited course of study leading to a higher medical qualification.

Provisional Fellowship Year (PFY) – A Registrar who has finished training, and is required to do a Fellowship Year before they can access specialist registration, which is a requirement for some colleges. It can also be a personal choice to undertake a PFY.

In comparison, a Senior Medical Officer (SMOs) are general practitioners, staff specialists and career hospital doctors. SMOs can be appointed to work generally as individuals who are not qualified in a specialty but working in a specialty under the supervision of a specialist, or in a staff grade position, where individuals who may be qualified in another medical jurisdiction (formerly legislated as a deemed specialist). 

On any given day working in the Queensland Health system, some of the primary roles held by SMOs can include – 

International Medical Graduates (IMGs) – Generally offered a staff grade position and formerly registered as a deemed specialist, IMGs must obtain registration through the Medical Board of Australia. Prior to applying for registration with the Medical Board of Australia, support must be provided from the relevant Australian specialty college using the Australian Medical Council overseas trained specialist assessment pathway.

Clinical Managers and Medical Managers
– SMOs who receive an allowance for undertaking clinical or medical management responsibilities.

Medical Officers or Medical Superintendents (MORPP or MSRPP) – With right of private practice, MORPPs and MSRPPs are medical practitioners employed by Queensland Health who work in smaller rural hospitals. They provided services to the hospital, along with private general practice services in the town. Private practice arrangements for MORPPs and MSRPPs are to be negotiated and agreed in writing at the local level.

Visiting Medical Officers (VMOs) – Specialists that have their own private practice, or general practitioners who choose to consult with public and private hospitals on a part time basis.

In comparison, if you are leaning towards pursuing a career as a general practitioner, advancements in technology and the way we go about our day to day lives has translated to more career opportunities for doctors in the digital age.

Telehealth is classed as the distribution of health-related services and information via electronic information and telecommunication technologies. It allows long-distance patient and clinician contact, care, advice, reminders, education, intervention, monitoring, and remote admissions – essentially, it’s made seeing a doctor easier than ever. Who would have thought that a career in medicine as a general practitioner, could also open the door to being a digital nomad?

Starting Your Career As A General Practitioner 

It comes as no real surprise to see that the practice of becoming an after hours doctor is on the rise. With increased flexibility and opportunities available, just a handful of the key benefits associated with this career path include greater flexibility, the ability to travel, increased earnings potential and ultimately – job satisfaction. 

House Call Doctor are a team of medical practitioners who specialise in optimal at home health care, and provide after hours access to doctors across Queensland. As a wholly Australian owned and managed medical service, House Call Doctor cares about providing access to the very best medical care to people when they need it most, when their regular GP is closed. 

If you’re intrigued by the idea of making your career count, why not register your interest with us to become a locum doctor and build the work life balance that you’ve always envisioned for yourself.