Four weeks ago, shortly after finishing his intern year at hospitals in Cork and Kerry, Michael Courtney flew to Perth with a group of close friends, mostly doctors who had graduated with him from the school of medicine at University College Cork (UCC) last year.
About 20 of his UCC classmates now work at the Fiona Stanley Hospital, the major public tertiary hospital that opened in Perth last October.
More than 100 junior doctors have been recruited to work there from Ireland and the UK this year so far.
“Working abroad was always in the back of my head,” says the 24-year-old from Co Kerry.
“It appealed to me when I was choosing to study medicine. I heard that Fiona Stanley was recruiting through friends.
“It was a very easy application process. I sent in my CV and did a telephone interview. The paperwork for the visa took a long time though, from January on.”
Mr Courtney now works as a resident medical officer in the psychiatry department, from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday, and an occasional half day on a Saturday.
“My hours are amazing. My role is similar to what it would be at home, but the workload is more manageable.
“They have a lot more staff here. Everything operates very smoothly and it is not a very stressful environment. There’s a much better atmosphere at work than in the hospitals back home.”
He says the Irish staff have been made to feel very welcome. “They really appreciate the Irish workforce. They think we have a great work ethos, and it is really nice to hear that.
“It makes it a lot easier starting in a new place, when there are so many other Irish here. You run into Irish people all the time.”
Mr Courtney is on an employer-sponsored 457 work visa, which allows him to stay in Australia for up to four years.
“I’m playing it by ear at the moment, so I’m not sure how long I will stay, but there are some very good learning opportunities over here.
“Irish medical graduates are really sought after, we’re really well regarded.”