“A busy day in Australia and a busy day in the UK are like chalk and cheese,” says Dr Ambi Sud. “If an Australian ED registrar has 20 patients waiting they'll freak out. I'm thinking, ‘This is a normal day in an Emergency Department in the UK.’ In fact, that would be a good day!”
“I think expectations are higher from patients in Australia. If they have to wait an hour or two they're not happy. Whereas in the UK six, seven, eight hour waiting periods, and this was pre-COVID, are pretty much standard.”
Dr Sud moved to Australia in 2017 and after working full time for two years in a Brisbane hospital she quit to work as an ED registrar locum instead.
“I realised I was getting too comfortable in a full-time job which was not part of the plan when I moved here,” she says.“I hadn’t really seen Australia and I wanted to see and do more, both in and out of work. Switching to locum work was a combination of wanting to be more independent, work in different departments, travel and also have a more flexible roster than a full-time job allows. Working as a locum means that I can take a week, ten days or even a month off if I choose.”
Learning as a locum
Working as a locum in different departments with different bosses and different styles has given Dr Sud more varied experience, a new perspective, and a real confidence boost.
“Working in different departments, you have to be quite sociable and put
yourself out there a bit more,” she says.“You need to be able to build relationships quite quickly with nurses and other doctors. Sometimes that is difficult because locums vary a lot in terms of their skills, experience and decision-making. Some hospitals can be wary of new locums and they might spend some time sussing you out but the majority of my experiences have been positive.”
“I think it's good as a doctor to not stay in one place the whole of your career. Different departments and doctors work very differently and that's good to see. It's been a really valuable learning experience.”
“Work is more enjoyable here because the work-life balance is so much better and, no disrespect to Australian doctors and nurses, but the job is less demanding than it is in the UK. When I was an intern in the UK I was left to fend for myself a lot of the time because consultants were too busy or there was just nobody else around to ask for help.There's more protection and care for Australian doctors, I think.”
As well as being forced to take on more responsibility as a junior doctor, Dr Sud was also frustrated by the long days and nights on call.
“I worked in a job in the UK which started at 7am but you were expected to be there at 6.30. It was an unspoken rule. My shift was supposed to finish at 5pm but I rarely got out the door before 6.30 so instead of working a ten-hour day, I was working 12-hour shifts. That doesn’t tend to happen in Australia. People are more respectful of your time and the importance of time off which is a good thing. It prevents fatigue and reduces the number of people calling in sick.”
“I love living somewhere where the weather doesn't stop you doing stuff on your days off and you can get outdoors pretty much whenever you want. I like the beach and keeping fit and my Instagram has started to get a bit of a following of late so I do a little bit of that on my days off.”
“I host an interview series on Instagram called Girl Boss where I chat with inspiring women. Most of them are doctors like myself and we talk about their career and their lives. We talk about empowering women and the importance of role models for young women. I love the idea of inspiring people in a different way.”
“I try and keep busy outside of the hospital. That's really important to me. If my job was my life and I didn’t have something outside of work I'd lose it. I'm just not one of those people. I give medicine one hundred percent when I’m at work but I need that balance in my life.”
Find Ambi on Instagram at @drambisud