We highlight important factors to consider for GP Locum Jobs in Australia, the Bigger Picture of Community Pharmacies operating in Australia and New findings about Hormone Therapy Risks.
Locum GP Jobs in Australia
Community Pharmacy: The Big Picture
Risk of Hormone Therapy
Locum GP Jobs in Australia
Locum work appeals to many doctors in Australia every year, especially to those looking for flexibility, work-life balance and the opportunity to work in their area of expertise at good pay rates and different environments.
Life as a Locum GP
A locum GP is employed temporarily in hospitals or GP practices. Generally, the demand for locum doctors increases when various leave days are taken by the regular medical staff and they need temporary replacing. Other times, certain areas of Australia are so remote that full-time local doctors are tough to find and therefore locums are sought to fly in and out. Ongoing patient care is key and therefore some locations in Australia rely on a combination of both regular and locum doctors.
Locum GPs have a crucial role in Australia’s medical system, from working as GPs in surgeries and medical centres to helping with a hospital’s emergency department and on-call needs.
As pointed out by the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA), many doctors choose to do locum work at some point in their careers, even if just for a short period of time. For some, it is an interesting, lucrative and fulfilling way to spend their annual leave. For others it is a chance to experience and learn more about a new and different environment.
A locum position can come with a number of benefits including higher pay rates, flexibility with your available time, new experiences to gain and the opportunity to travel to various places in Australia – both inland, coastal and on islands.
Dr Mackie shared with the MJA he had been practising for 20 years before he decided to work as a locum GP for a new change in his lifestyle.
He left his partnership at a practice in Byron Bay, NSW and started working as a locum for six months of each year. Since he made the decision to locum, he has been able to work and travel across the country. From Townsville in QLD, to the WA wheat belt area and even down to Tasmania.
It can be an great way for GPs to add variety to their careers while also positively impacting smaller communities in Australia. The only thing that he concerns about is the matter of patient care continuity since he could not do regular follow-ups on his patients due to the nature of locum placement.
Locum jobs are also great ways to gain more experience towards speciality areas or a GPs current training programs. Due to the variety of locum work available and a shortage of Rural GPs in Australia, a lot of doctors are encouraged to try it. The right recruiters can assist in finding a suitable position for you, whether it’s for a couple of days, weeks or months – it all depends on your availability and interests.
It is worth noting two pitfalls of locum work – one for the locum doctors themselves and the other for the communities around Australia. Doctors that want to locum in the hospital system will need to go through extensive screening, and just how extensive that screening gets can differ from state to state and health service.
And for the communities, while they need ongoing doctors for patient care, there can be issues with continuity of care when multiple short-term locum doctors work in the same area. Each doctor has to handover to the next which can cause gaps in knowledge, especially when it comes to complex patients. Fortunately, there are ways to help with this such as My Health Record.
Requirements to Work as a Locum GP
In order work as a locum doctor in Australia, there are a set of basic requirements for your initial screening and approval. Please keep in mind these are basic, core documents everyone will need. Depending on the locations locum doctors go to, the additional documentation can vary.
- Medical registration: General registration and/or Specialist registration with the Medical Board of Australia. Locum options may be limited for those with Limited registration or with Conditions on their registration.
- Right to work in Australia as a doctor: Doctors must have a recognised Medical Degree and either be an Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident, be enrolled in an active training program and obtain the right visa to work as a locum doctor in Australia if the doctor is from another country.
- National Police Check (National) and Working With Children (WWC) Check (Per State) are often required.
- Medical Indemnity Insurance: Although most health services in Australia will have some type of insurance to cover the locum doctors they are employing, doctors are strongly recommended to organise their own indemnity insurance. Locum doctors are employed as contractors, if you are working somewhere temporarily you should cover your bases without relying on the hospital system.
- Provider Number and Prescriber Number: These are unique numbers assigned to each medical professional who participates in the Medicare Program including Locum doctors. They are required when doctors Bill or Request services eligible for Medicare benefits, they also identify the doctors’ qualifications, registrations and practice locations.
- Immunisations: Documented evidence for certain vaccinations is required in order to safely practice in a hospital setting. These generally may include Measles, Mumps & Rubella, Pertussis, Hepatitis B and sometimes Tuberculosis.
- Additional documentation: The amount of additional documentation for Credentialing purposes may vary depending on your practice location. Generally these include a variety of pre-employment checklists, reference checks from peers or direct supervisors, statutory declarations, codes of conduct and employee personal details forms.
Locums as a Percentage of the Medical Staff in NSW
This year, an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) revealed that an average of 16.5 percent of doctors working in the NSW public health system are locums, who are usually hired through a medical recruitment agency.
The president of the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation, said in the news that over the past few years locum jobs have become a lot more widespread and common.
Particularly in NSW, locums account for 3.4 percent of the full-time equivalent (FTE) medical staff.
Locum jobs have been increasingly more appealing over the years, especially to junior doctors in emergency departments where sometimes they could earn up to $2000 a day as locum. Compared to around $1200 for a staff specialist in a similar permanent job.
Salaries for GP Locums in Australia
A locum GP salary may vary depending on a number of factors. Daily rates for GP Locums could start from $1000 and go upwards of $2000 and $2500. Important factors to consider are the locations of the jobs (the more remote it is the stronger the daily rate becomes), the experience level of the doctor (if only covering GP work or also hospital ED/on-call), duration of the job (i.e. 1x day or 1x week or a few months at a time, all depending on doctors’ availability).
There are also some other benefits for GP locums such as having travel and accommodation expenses either included or reimbursed as well as Salary packaging options that help with a doctor’s personal accounting and higher take-home pay.
Do you have any questions in regards to working as a Locum GP in Australia?
Community Pharmacy: The Big Picture
The Community Pharmacy sector plays an important role in the supply of prescription and permitted non-prescription-based medicine and the information about health care services to the general public.
Overview of the Community Pharmacy
Pharmacies offer diverse career options in both a traditional setting such as community pharmacy and hospital pharmacy, but also in a non‐traditional setting such as working as a pharmacy investor and pharmacy regulator.
As we mentioned, they play a crucial role in the Health Care sector through the supply of a variety of medicines as well as information and education about services to the general public.
Even more so, in regional and remote communities these pharmacies play a a key role in providing local residents with quick access to health services otherwise difficult to access from their distance and location.
Source: Pharmacy careers guide – Pharmaceutical Society of Australia
The Pharmacies Career Guide published by the Pharmaceutical Society in Australia suggested that community pharmacies for new graduates were the most popular option in recent years.
Because of the various important activities done in the community pharmacy sector, the job positions can be varied and include:
- Pharmacy assistants
- Senior pharmacy assistants
- Front of pharmacy supervisors
- Pharmacy stock controllers
- Dispensary assistants/technicians
- Pharmacy technicians
- Retail managers – Pharmacy
According to the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Australia’s system for community pharmacy and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) has been recognised as “world-leading”. Some key points from the report are:
Overview – There are approx 5,700 community pharmacies in Australia with an average of 440 million individual patient visits a year and 99% of the dispensed PBS prescriptions are claimed electronically online.
Workforce – Community pharmacies employ approx 80,000 staff in Australia. Interestingly, nearly 80% of the total workforce are women and two-thirds of all the 30,000 registered pharmacists in Australia are working in community pharmacies.
Additional Roles – For community pharmacists, medicines adherence is a crucial aspect of their roles. It is estimated there are around 230,000 hospitalisations a year due to medication-related issues, and this costs the healthcare system around $1.2 billion a year. Community pharmacists in all States and Territories can also provide vaccinations after completion of training.
Customers Outlook – Annually, there are around 440 million individual patient visits to pharmacies. In capital cities, 95% of consumers live less than 2.5 km from a pharmacy. In regional areas, 72% of people live less than 2.5 km of a pharmacy.
Community Pharmacist Jobs Outlook
Based on a national industries insights report for Community Pharmacies, the top 5 roles in demand in the Community Pharmacy are:
- Pharmacy Sales Assistant
- Sales Representatives
- Sales Assistant (General)
- Retail Manager (General)
- Retail Supervisor
The role of Pharmacy Sales Assistant has been used as a base benchmark for the employment trends of the Community Pharmacy sector. They accounted for more than 40% of the Pharmaceutical, Cosmetic and Toiletry Goods Retailing workforce.
The Community Pharmacy sector has a workforce of 41,400 pharmacy sales assistants and generated $18.4 billion in revenue for the 2018-19 period. This is an increase from $16.3 billion in 2016-17.
Source: Employment Projection – extracted from National Industry Insights
Between 2012 and 2018, the employment level for Pharmacy Sales Assistants heavily fluctuated regardless of the upwards trend during the whole period.
This employment level is predicted to increase to approximately 42,400 by 2023, suggesting a similar trend for the Community Pharmacy sector in the near future.
Industry Insights on Skills Needed
Additionally to the in-demand list of roles in Community Pharmacies, the National Industry Insights suggested the below skills to be a Top priority for pharmacists:
- Emotional intelligence
- Problem solving
- Critical thinking and resilience
- Stress tolerance and flexibility
- Soft skills
According to the job vacancy data, among the most requested skills by employers in the Community Pharmacy sector were also communication skills and a consistent attention to detail.
The most advertised positions were for the Pharmacy Sales Assistant followed by the Sales Representative.
The Industry Developments and Workforce Challenges report highlighted last year that there is a strong need in the Community Pharmacy sector for more qualified and skilled dispensary technicians as well as pharmacy assistants.
These shortages are reportedly a result of continuous staff turnover and the expansion of Pharmacy services. It is believed that long working hours and low pay are two of the biggest contributing factors to the turnover.
What do you think about the jobs outlook for the Community Pharmacy sector? We would love to hear from you.
Risk of Hormone Therapy
Certain hormone replacement therapies have been tied to an increased risk of breast cancer. New research also suggests that the risks can last for more than a decade in some cases.
The New Study
ABC recently wrote about an internationally published review that has confirmed breast cancer risk increases when the longer hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is used.
According to the study by the Lancet, women using such therapies unfortunately experience an increased risk of developing breast cancer even for a short period. Even after they have stopped taking hormones, the risk can still last for more than 10 years afterwards.
It is worth nothing that women using hormone treatments for less than one year, they will experienced less risks involved than long term users.
Around the time of menopause, many women may choose to use hormone treatments to manage symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats. A lot of times the alternatives are simply a healthier lifestyle.
It was discovered that for the women of average weight in Western countries using oestrogen plus a daily progestogen hormone therapy for at least five years starting from the age 50, they may have the increased risks up to the age of 70.
The research suggests that the estimated incidences between the ages 50 to 69 were tied to the increased risks. Women who never used hormone replacement therapy approx have a 6.3% increased risk while those who used the therapy daily for around five years have a risk rate of 8.3%.
For women who have used treatments for 5 years and longer, the study shows that the risk increases to:
- 8.3 percent for women using oestrogen plus daily progestogen therapy
- 7.7 percent for those using oestrogen plus intermittent progestogen (10-14 days a month) therapy
- 6.8 percent for those using oestrogen-only therapy
The researchers found that the risk rate increases the longer women stayed on the hormone treatments, doubling for those who use it up to 10 years.
They also found women remained at an elevated risk rate for approx 10 years after stopping the therapy. This risk may vary depending on the duration of the therapy.
However, experts also recommend it is important to assess the risks of hormone treatment in the context of other breast cancer risk factors, including the age, weight, alcohol use and family history.
Cautions in the Finding’s Interpretation
Experts urged women to exercise caution when interpreting these findings, highlighting that many of the hormone treatments used by the women in the studies were no longer commonly prescribed.
President of the International Menopause Society said many patients in the studies were given synthetic progestogens, which have been known to have some adverse effects and are not generally the first ones to be recommended.
Professor Farquhar from Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the University of Auckland, said women on menopausal hormone therapy should talk to their doctors about their individual risk rates.
For short-term management of symptoms, menopausal hormonal treatment can still be considered a viable option.
The latest findings confirm that treatments longer than one year should most importantly be considered carefully with each patient so everyone is aware of the individual risk factors.
What are your thoughts on the findings of the study? We would love to hear from you.
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