The Real World


A quick introduction to the other aspects of working in medicine

  • Medical Indemnity and Insurance
  • Medical Unions and why we need them
  • Locuming info
  • Work-life balance
  • Additional resources for doctors and their families

Medical Indemnity Insurance

Medical indemnity covers you as a medical professional in the unfortunate event of a formal complaint or lawsuit against you. Fortunately these events are uncommon, but every doctor should have cover in case of such an event.

Although the health service will provide you with some support, it is generally best to sign up for additional cover through one of the main medical indemnity providers. This type of cover is also tax debatable.

The major providers in Australia are: AVANT, MIPS and MIGA

Medical Unions and why we need them

A workers union is a group that represents the interests of a specific workforce group in matters such as contract negotiations or industrial disputes. They also provide advice and personalised assistance to individual union members. 

If you have contract issues, leave entitlement concerns or similar problems, you are able to contact a union rep who will provide assistance.

Recent contract disputes in Australia (see Queensland Health SMO contract dispute in 2014) and the UK have highlighted the importance of having a strong union who can voice the concerns of the workforce (doctors).

The main medical unions in Australia are:

The Australian Medical Association (AMA)

Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation (ASMOF)

Locuming Information

Locums consist of temporary work as a contractor for a health service. These appointments can stretch from 1 day to even years, and are a great way of experiencing a new hospital or another part of the country.

Generally, locums are arranged through a locum agency who will arrange all your travel, accommodation and remuneration. The pay is generally better compared to full time employment, but keep in mind that the amount you are paid is untaxed and you will have to pay extra tax a the end of that financial year.

The great things about locuming:

  • Meet new people/potential employers
  • Experience a different hospital or health service
  • Attractive pay rates
  • Free accomodation
  • Fleet car to get around (Consultants only)

The downsides of locuming:

  • Short duration means no time to get used to the hospital systems
  • Lots of travel
  • Temporary accommodation arrangements
  • No recreation leave allowance
  • No long service leave allowance
  • No Professional Development Leave

Work - Life Balance

The following are some thoughts  and reflections from our experience and mistakes...

Work life balance is one of those slogans that is thrown around often, but is generally difficult to accomplish. Working in medicine is very demanding. Night shifts, long hours, stressful days, bad outcomes, difficult colleagues, studying, exams, courses, presentations, audits, teaching, CPD and so on....

All these various commitments mean that often we have very little lift in the tank (and clock) when it comes to the important non-work things. Relationships are strained, exercise is sacrificed as we stop doing the "fun" things...

This is a difficult balance to strike, and can lead to "burn out". We do not pretend to have the answer to making it work, but it is important to take a step back at times and reassess our priorities and to make sure we are on track.

Additionally, it is important to share issues with family, friends or colleagues if things are getting tricky. Hospitals also provide employee welfare officers, and your union or department can also provide advice and support if required.

So what can we do to try and maintain things in balance?

  • Maintain your non-medical interests - music, sports, dancing, art etc
  • Healthy eating and drinking
  • Spend quality time with family and friends
  • Try to "switch off" from work when you get home whenever possible
  • Good sleep patterns
  • Take holidays