International doctors
working and living
in New Zealand

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Working in New Zealand as a Doctor is an excellent career and lifestyle move.

Although the borders are currently closed, Ochre Recruitment are assisting Doctors and their families make the move. There is a huge demand for General Practitioners and Psychiatrists to fill job vacancies and help reduce current patient backlogs. We are working with District Health Boards and medical centres across New Zealand to find doctors from Australia, the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, The Netherlands, Germany and South Africa.

And with New Zealand having a very low COVID infection rate, interest in working in NZ is greater than ever.

Why Do Doctors Work in New Zealand?

  1. Unparalleled work-life balance, most Doctors work between 32-40 hours per week;

  2. The pace is slower with less population and people are generally more relaxed;

  3. Broader scope of work presents more opportunities in specialisms;

  4. Excellent working conditions amidst or close to some of the most visually stunning environments on the planet.

If you want a more enriched quality of life with excellent prospects, consider New Zealand. 

Register for our Webinar at 8pm (UTC) Sunday 18th October.

We'll talk about Medical Council registration, visa requirements, quarantine, salary, schooling, medical indemnity, and much more. 

What is my Registration Pathway?

Working as a doctor in New Zealand requires Vocational Registration with the MCNZ.

Medical registration via the Comparable Health or Competent Authority pathways are often used for GPs or registrars, while the Locum Tenens pathway allows a doctor with approved specialist qualifications to work as a locum GP or specialist for up to twelve months. 

Locum Tenens registration can be processed quite quickly, so we can have you living and working in New Zealand within a matter of months.

  • Competent Authority Pathway for British and Irish Graduates

    • Must hold a primary medical degree from a university medical school within the UK or Ireland
    • Must have at least one year of general medical experience working in the UK or Ireland
    • Will require six months of supervision before gaining general registration.
  • Comparable Health Pathway

    • Must hold current and full registration in a ‘comparable’ country. Comparable countries include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, and the USA.
    • Must have worked in a comparable health system for a minimum of 30 hours per week, for at least 33 months out of the last 48 months prior to application. For this period, you’ll need to have worked in the same branch of medicine that you intend to follow in NZ.
    • Will require 12 months of supervision before gaining general registration.
  • Locum Tenens Pathway

    • Based on postgraduate qualification
    • Applicable to specialist qualifications from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, UK and the USA. Contact your Ochre Recruitment consultant to confirm that you hold the requisite qualification for your specialty
    • Allows doctors to work a maximum of 12 months in NZ at one time; you may return as a locum multiple times
    • Supervisory only, and does not lead to full NZ registration

What types of medical jobs can I find in New Zealand?

Our primary specialties for locum and permanent doctor jobs include:

  • General Practice / Family Medicine 
  • Psychiatry
  • Radiology
  • Emergency Medicine and ICU
  • General Medicine 
  • Obstetrics & Gynaecology
  • Surgery and Anaesthetics

Demand for other specialties in New Zealand can appear quite suddenly, so we are always keen to hear from interested doctors, regardless of whether a suitable position is advertised on our website. With our finger very much on the pulse of the medical job market in NZ, we can move swiftly to give you the very latest job opportunities.

Where can I work as a Doctor in New Zealand?

General Practitioners and Consultants from overseas can generally work where they want. It is best though to start your initial location search with an open mind. Being a small country, it is easy to get around to enjoy all attractions and landscapes.

Pre-COVID, Doctors from overseas were able to work their way around both Islands in six-month contracts or even shorter locums. With current border restrictions and quarantine laws, practices and hospitals are still very much welcoming international Doctors, but they are asking for a minimum commitment of 12 months.

Where you settle and establish your 'home away from home' is up to you.

Some international Doctors prefer urban locations, as they aren’t keen on covering on-call or they prefer to be closer to a secondary or tertiary hospital. On the other hand, some Doctors love the challenge of rural practice, covering on-call and completing ward rounds at the local rural hospital.

Read more about the best places to work in NZ

NZ Locations

Salary expectations for Doctors in New Zealand

The average salary of a doctor in NZ is determined by the type of employment, and ranges between $60,000 and $250,000 NZD.  

If you are employed as an independent contractor your hourly rate will be higher, but you won’t have paid leave or benefits and you will need to pay your own tax.

However, most doctors from overseas (and NZ-based doctors) work as employees and are paid on a fortnightly basis. Your employer takes care of the tax and you will receive various types of leave and other benefits.

  • Permanent GPs

    The annual salary for permanent GPs in New Zealand falls between $170,000 and $230,000 NZD.

  • Junior Doctors

    Salaries for junior doctors in New Zealand range between $60,000 and $185,000 NZD.

    Junior doctors are employed directly by a District Health Board in New Zealand. They are paid a salary and receive benefits in accordance with the Multi-Employer Collective Agreement known as MECA.

    Please visit the New Zealand Resident Doctors Association page to find out more. 

    House Officers — Years 1 & 2

    For house officers, most salaries range between $60K and $100K NZD

    • Year 1: $60,000 NZD, 40-45 hours per week
    • Year 2: $118,975 NZD, 65+ hours per week.

    Senior House Officers — Years 3 & 4

    For senior house officers, most salaries fall within the $80K to $110K NZD range.

    • Year 3: $65,000 NZD, 40-45 hours per week
    • Year 4: $132,452 NZD, 40-45 hours per week.

    Registrars

    Registrar salaries tend to range from $100K to $150K NZD.

    • Year 1: $76,000 NZD minimum, 40-45 hours per week
    • Year 2: $ 185,000 NZD, 65+ hours per week.
  • Specialist Hospital Doctors

    Most specialist doctors working in New Zealand can expect to earn an annual salary ranging between $190,000 and $250,000 NZD.

    This depends on

    • Your experience working as a consultant since acquiring specialist qualification
    • The amount of time you’ve spent on-call
    • The hospital location—there is a small incentive paid to specialists who work in rural hospitals.
    • Initially, specialist doctors from overseas can only work in public hospitals. Once you are established in New Zealand you can pick up private hospital work to boost your earnings.

    Specialist doctors are employed directly by a District Health Board in New Zealand. They are paid a salary and receive benefits in accordance with the Specialist Multi-Employer Collective Agreement known as the DHB MECA.

    To learn more, please visit the DHB Employment Conditions page, or view the MECA pdf document.

    As a specialist doctor, you will receive the following benefits as outlined in the collective DHB MECA agreement:

    • Medical indemnity reimbursed
    • Practicing certificate reimbursed
    • Six weeks’ paid annual leave (above the four-week NZ standard)
    • Relocation costs, depending on how long you intend to work in NZ.

    Some specialist doctors are eligible to work as long-term locums, receiving a daily rate of between $1500 and $2000 NZD. This will depend on experience, familiarity with the NZ system and if any on-call is required. 

    Accommodation is typically covered for the duration of your locum work.

    Please contact your Ochre Recruitment consultant to discuss whether this is an option for you.

Why is New Zealand such an appealing medical
career
move for International Doctors?

Here are the top five reasons according to doctors whom we’ve helped relocate to New Zealand: 

A very healthy work-life balance;

The broader scope of work provides more opportunities in procedural specialisms and
areas of interest, such as womens’ health, chronic illness and occupational health;

A change of pace and less pressure, with a greater emphasis on quality of life;

A temperate climate and - of course - access to unspoilt landscapes;

The potential to buy a practice.

You really can learn to live again New Zealand!

Discover what’s possible

Frequently Asked Questions from Doctors
wishing to work in New Zealand

  • What does Ochre help with?

    We help you find a job and guide you through the Medical Council registration and work visa process, if required. We also help you set up a bank account, get medical indemnity and apply for a tax number. As well as anything else that makes your transition to working and living in New Zealand easier!

  • Will I be eligible to work in New Zealand?

    The following link is the registration self-assessment tool on the Medical Council of New Zealand website:  https://www.mcnz.org.nz/get-registered/registration-self-assessment-tool/

  • How does Vocational Registration work?

    Assuming that  hold a postgraduate qualification you may be eligible to apply for Vocational Registration in New Zealand. Please see the following link to the Medical Council of New Zealand’s (MCNZ) criteria around training and qualifications to see if you may be deemed eligible:

     https://www.mcnz.org.nz/get-registered/scopes-of-practice/vocational-registration/types-of-vocational-scope/

    It can be difficult to give you an indication of the likelihood of approval down this pathway as each doctor is considered on a case by case basis. The MCNZ and the relevant College will assess your application. If your training and experience is similar you stand a reasonable chance of being approved.  Once you have submitted your application it can take up to 8 months to be assessed. 

  • Will my partner be able to work in New Zealand?

    If you are applying for a work visa longer than six months, your partner will be able to apply for a work visa via the Partnership Pathway. You, as the principal applicant will need to support your partner’s application and provide evidence that you are in a genuine relationship.

  • What are the school options for my children?

    New Zealand’s education system—public and private—is very good, recognised as one of the best in the world. New Zealand is comfortably in the world’s top 20 nations for the quality of schools, according to the OECD in 2016. 95% of children in New Zealand attend government-funded public schools, with around 4% attending private schools. In general, there will always be good primary and college school options for your children no matter where you choose to live in NZ. Your children can apply for student visas on the back of your work visa and will be treated as domestic students thereby not requiring you to pay international school fees.

  • What does a typical day look like for a GP working in NZ?

    Most GPs will work around 8 to 10 sessions per week, averaging 35 to 40 hours per week. A session is deemed as a half-day. Hours are usually 8.30am to 5.30pm with a one-hour lunch break, and a morning and afternoon tea break. Patient appointments usually take 15 minutes and it is expected that a GP will see approximately 24 patients a day. You can expect paperwork time to be built into the day. 

    If on-call is a component of the role, some practices will only require the GP to be on-call during the evening from 5.30pm to 9.00pm, after which time the local hospital takes over. In some cases the GP is on-call overnight, and if required will need to see patients at the local hospital or in the medical centre. Some practices may require GPs to run a clinic during the weekend or complete a ward round in a rural hospital.

  • What benefits are New Zealand GPs entitled to on a permanent contract?

    In you are employed on a permanent contract, some employers may cover:

    • Licence to practise—Annual Practicing Certificate
    • Medical indemnity—Malpractice
    • Paid leave—Annual, Sick, CME
    • Continuing medical education costs
    • Membership to the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP)
    • Initial assistance with accommodation and vehicle
    • Assistance with relocation costs (only if a GP is moving to New Zealand permanently).
  • What are the most important things to consider when looking at a permanent medical career move to NZ?

    Choose a location that meets your lifestyle needs, and if travelling with a partner or family, theirs as well. It’s important to think outside of work—make the most of New Zealand’s superb work/life balance! If travelling with a family you might want good day-care options, for example, or access to family-friendly activities, sport clubs, schools, or access to the great outdoors. If fishing and surfing is important to you may want to consider coastal locations, or if you are keen on river kayaking and hiking through mountains you may be interested in looking at mountainous locations inland.  It may be important for your partner to find work, so depending on their profession you may wish to base yourself in or near a large urban area.

  • What is the pay/salary I can expect for a permanent job?

    This is very much determined on how you are employed. If you are employed as an independent contractor your hourly rate will be higher but you need to pay your own tax, there is no paid leave or benefits. Most doctors from overseas (and NZ based doctors) however, are employed as an employee and paid on a fortnightly basis. The annual salary will fall between $150,000 – $200.000 NZD approx. Your employer takes care of the tax, there is paid leave and other benefits. 

  • What is Locum Tenens?

    You are eligible to apply for registration with the MCNZ down this pathway based on you holding a specific postgraduate qualification. This pathway allows you to work as a Specialist for up to 12 months. This pathway is only suitable for short term placements and is only available if you have secured a job offer.

    https://www.mcnz.org.nz/registration/getting-registered/registration-pathways/special-purpose-scope/locum-tenens/

  • Are Doctors in demand in New Zealand?

    In New Zealand, demand for general and specialist medical care will continue to grow because of the ageing population, and because about one-third of doctors in general practice are retiring over the next decade.

Why choose Ochre Recruitment for
your NZ medical career move?

We take careful note of your personal needs—a successful move to New Zealand relies on this. We are very interested in learning more about you, and if travelling with a partner or family, understanding their needs as well.   

It is equally important to situate you in a role that suits your experience and skills; job satisfaction is crucial, and we take great pride in finding the right NZ jobs for doctors. 

We emphasise the ins and outs of what it’s actually like to work as a GP in NZ. If you have any specific interests it is important to discuss these to see how they fit in with medical practices and hospitals in the New Zealand setting. 

Ochre Recruitment has an office in Wellington. Because we operate from within New Zealand and employ Kiwis, we have first-hand experience and knowledge about what it’s like to live and work there. 

We have been helping doctors from overseas move their careers and families to New Zealand for close to 20 years, and we’re genuinely excited about helping you too.

Discover your options for jobs as an international doctor in New Zealand.

Our New Zealand Team is ready to help you make the move.

Contact our NZ team

Insights from our doctors

The easy-going atmosphere, the great outdoors and the sparsely populated country made NZ a great destination. Stop considering the move and make it happen! I haven't met anyone who had regrets about making the move.

Dr Jacob Stiggelbout

General Practitioner

The New Zealand Healthcare System allows you to have genuine relationships with your patients... everyone is concerned about the general well-being of their fellow staff and patients and not about making money for the hospital.

Dr Garett Burke

Emergency Medicine Physician

Thank you for all the work you've done to find me locums across New Zealand. You make everything easy. If you are considering locum work, I recommend talking to the team at Ochre Recruitment.

Dr Julie Hardy

Locum GP

I am very pleased with the NZ Ochre Recruitment team. Their service is professional, fast and efficient. They have not failed even once in my seven years of experience with them.

Dr Maria Beltran De Guevara

General Practitioner

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