So how is your quest for work-life balance coming along?
If you are a family physician in the United States, not so well according to many articles like this one from Medical News Today. Doctors fare worse than the general population and frontline physicians are at greatest risk of “dissatisfaction” and “burnout”. Things aren't much better for General Practitioners in the UK according to this recent survey on UK Doctor burnout published on Medscape. It would seem that General Practitioners worldwide are generally not having such a great time at work.
You might be wishing that you had chosen a career as a network administrator (apparently one of the happiest jobs in Australia). Assuming such a drastic change of direction is impractical, what else can you do to improve your overall quality of life and still derive some satisfaction from your chosen profession?
You could move to Australia!
Why is Australia a haven for doctors in family practice compared to other countries?
Firstly, let's be clear about what is not wrong with General Practice. Most of our doctors are thankfully quite happy with patient contact and clinical work - after all this is pretty much what they signed up for and seems to be the one thing that keeps them from throwing in the towel.
The misery-inducing elements are invariably non-core to the profession itself - paperwork, bureaucracy, government interference, lack of professional freedom and financial recognition, and of course, too much work (and by inference - not enough play).
So how does Australia fare by comparison to other countries?
Here is what our migrating doctors report about work conditions in Australia:
- Increased earning potential and being in charge of ones own income (uncapped earnings essentially)
- Working largely for private practices rather than a national health service so not chasing targets or having to satisfy certain care criteria to get funding
- Flexibility in the working schedule – full-time work is 38-40 hours and practices can often be flexible to how the working week is structured. 4 days a week is quite common
- Broader scope and freedom of GP work practised – e.g. ability to exercise minor surgical skills if desired, some ED aspect to roles, etc
- Chance to work with remote or rural locations where your presence makes a significant difference to communities
And, of course, lifestyle is a huge draw:
- The weather – generally a lot better than the UK for example
- A more outdoor orientated lifestyle – the beach, the mountains, diving, snorkelling, hiking, running, swimming, surfing, sailing, and so much more
- The excellent education system for those with families (especially now University fees have risen dramatically in England)
- Access to nearby exotic holiday destinations (Asia, Pacific Islands, New Zealand)
- A booming economy and therefore a sense of national optimism
We'd love to hear from you about your work satisfaction as a General Practitioner in Australia. You can also get in touch with us privately by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
One thing is for certain - there are far more family physicians moving to Australia and staying than there are leaving. The final vote goes to the feet.