Find the best place to practice Emergency Medicine

6 min | Medical Careers

Emergency Doctors tell Dr John Bethell why they like working in Australia.

I have long held the view that Emergency Medicine as it is practised in Australia is about as good as it gets. If you want an emergency career that is rewarding and for your specialist expertise to be held in high regard by your medical peers this is the place to be.

In Australia, the Emergency Department is the hub of the hospital, both clinically and socially. The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) is highly respected, both domestically and abroad, as one of the best when it comes to teaching and representation of its members.

It then occurred to me that I had not actually worked in Emergency myself for quite some time. So rather than confabulate, I asked a range of doctors (some homegrown – some imported) who currently do work in Emergency to respond to the question:

Here, in their own words, are some of their answers:

Career Opportunity

  • There is a huge opportunity to work while travelling around Australia, thanks to workforce shortages outside of all major metropolitan centres
  • There are established joint accreditation pathways with Paediatrics and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Living in a city, flexible rosters allow time for locum work to support outside interests (such as farming in one Doctor’s instance; bushwalking; rock climbing; surfing; etc)
  • Emergency Medicine in Australia continuously brings new skills and treatments to patients at the hospital's "front door"
  • Significant opportunity to engage in research, and plenty of academic posts available


  • Fabulous weather all year round, along with the coastal lifestyle
  • Rural work can offer the chance to own land (one Doctor owns 100 acres and grows beef; or enjoy the rainforest along a 1.5km river frontage)
  • The Emergency Department is usually the largest department in the hospital and so is very social and lively – everyone wanders through at some point

Medical Practice Opportunities

  • The Emergency Department sees all acute admissions to the hospital in Australia, so is well funded, respected, and busy
  • Doctors do intubations, sedations, and complex procedures without other specialties (e.g. Anaesthetics and ICU) getting involved or upset
  • Emergency Medicine in Australia is a mature specialty in which Emergency Physicians are able to practise the core skills of patient assessment, initiation of care, and resuscitation
  • There are rewarding and interesting opportunities to practise in Indigenous areas; or tropical and dive medicine

Work Conditions

  • Australian Medicare provides for universal access, so no eligibility problems for patients, as can be found in other countries
  • Good pay and working conditions. Ample rosters, 4 shifts a week, and usually only one in four weekends
  • Litigation levels in Emergency Medicine are very low, and most hospitals fully indemnify doctors for medico-legal insurance
  • Australia has one of the most advanced Emergency Medicine specialty practices in the world


  • Salaries generally comparable with other non-procedural specialties within Australia
  • Easy to do private work or locums to supplement income
  • There is plenty of locum work available at good rates if you want it

Training, College and Recognition

  • Very good training program for Junior Doctors and Registrars
  • World-leading education and training opportunities – huge investment in high tech simulation capacity
  • Most accredited departments are multi-FACEM so tend to provide excellent teaching
  • Very well regarded standards in the College (ACEM) and collegial relationships are collaborative rather than competitive

So there you have it. I couldn't (and didn't) say it better myself. It's reassuring to hear so many positive messages coming from the profession itself, particularly from those that have come to Australia from other countries.

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