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Medically-related jobs outside the NHS - overseas


If you'd like to practice in an English speaking medical environment, are attracted by the great outdoors and not deterred by working in what may sometimes be isolated rural communities, the following organizations all exhibited or advertised at the December 2010 BMJ Careers Fair, so may well still be looking to fill vacancies:


Australia and New Zealand


Adelaide Unicare
Australian Medical Association (WA)

Department of Health, Melbourne

General Practice Network, Northern Territory

Health Workforce Queensland

New South Wales Department of Health

New Zealand Doctors

Queensland Health

Rural Health West

Rural Workforce Agency

Triple0 Medical Recruitment – Australia & NZ

Western Australian Health Department




Health Careers Saskatchewan

Health Match British Columbia

Health Placements Alberta, Canada

Newfoundland and Labrador


South Africa


Africa Health Placements

Doctors Worldwide





If you've a spirit of adventure, are good at risk assessment and aren't too worried about a salary or home comforts then expedition medicine may be for you.

Expeditions may be polar, jungle, desert, overland or diving - for just a few weeks or for several months - and for conservation, scientific research, education, charity trek fundraising or simply for adventure. Experience in general practice, infectious diseases and A & E is likely to be particularly relevant.

Unfortunately there aren't many paid posts and you could even end up paying most of your own expenses so this probably isn't a serious long term career option for most people.

To find out more, try: (for details of Expedition Medical Courses) (Raleigh International is one of the larger expedition organisers)




To apply for a work permit you will need to pass:

  • The United States Medical Licensing Examinations (USMLE) ( designed for overseas doctors, rather like PLAB is designed for overseas doctors coming to the UK
  • An English Language Proficiency test
  • A Clinical Skills Assessment
  • You will also need confirmation of your medical credentials, (including documentation stating you can practice medicine unrestricted) from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-2651 telephone 215 39 8767).

The USMLE results need to be given to the relevant State medical board, who can then grant a license to practice.

You should also take specialist advice on the type of visa to try for  (H-1 is reputedly best but getting harder to secure; J-1 is a temporary training visa for doctors and scientists but you have to return to your country of origin after training and can't return to the US to work for another two years).

Basic training programmes are called residencies and the exams at the end are called the boards and provide accreditation in the specialty




This is a possible option if you have at least three years postgraduate experience, preferably in emergency medicine and general practice; and are comfortable being on board and on call for four months at a time. On the plus side you'll get plenty of travel, the larger cruise ships often have state of the art medical technology and, as a ship's officer, you won't have to worry about the mundane things in life, like paying bills, ironing and cleaning. For further information see the web sites of the major cruise lines - eg P & O Princess Cruises International -



This is a useful handbook, covering 100 countries and both career and health issues. The author, Mark Wilson, has worked as a doctor in the UK, India, Nepal, South Africa and Australia, as well as an expedition doctor in the Arctic.

He also runs which provides information and advice on working abroad as a doctor, as well as the best price for his Guide  (£8.20).




- Get expert advice on visas and registration. For instance should you apply for vocational registration or the locum-tenens pathway for New Zealand or for a J-1 or H-1 visa when applying to the USA?

- Find out what medical checks you might need, particularly for jobs in the developed world. For instance, you'll probably need a medical to work in Australia and Canada and to work in New Zealand you may need evidence of immunity to measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, Hep B and MRSA Nasal swab plus a chest X-ray.

- If you're planning to work overseas for say six months or more, you'll need to pack for more than just a holiday. So check out the different shipping companies unless you want to pay a fortune in excess baggage!

- Check if your existing indemnity insurance will cover you and, if so, get written confirmation of this. For countries like Canada and the USA you'll need to arrange new indemnity insurance. The MDU, MPS and MDDUS can suggest insurance brokers.

- In case you lose key documents while you're away consider scanning in your passport, visa and qualifications and mailing these to yourself. That way you can run off copies if you need them, wherever you are in the world with internet access.


Royal Medical Benevolent Fund


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