Migration Questions: Healthcare Industry

Good morning.

Sometime back, I received emails regularly for migration advice. Coincidentally, so many of them were from teachers or ex-teachers. One of them has already gotten her PR visa approved. (nothing to my credit). From past experiences, I think it is a good idea to share some of these questions because I alone have no answer to every single of them. Many insights actually came from others who happened to be reading one of these posts.

I grew to like these emails because I do get an unexpected sense of satisfaction becoming a bridge between many Singaporeans with the same mindset. Recently C, a young Singaporean lady met up with J in New Zealand at her arrival. According to J, C was a spunky young girl who hardly need his help. I guess she just wanted to see how yan dao Mr J is. Well no matter, it is heartwarming to be able to delude myself that I have been doing something useful for people. C has the same intention like MJ and J, to find a job during their temporary visa in Australia and New Zealand respectively. Young punks these days... ha.

Lately another young Singaporean couple arrived in New Zealand. They have their NZ PR and are there to settle down like Jen and I did almost a year back. When I received her messages, I coudn't help but be reminded of my own fears when I first arrived. Fortunately, her husband has found a job already. They would be alright. I have introduced her to spunky girl C, perhaps they might meet up somewhere in beautiful New Zealand. Good luck ladies.

The emails stopped coming in for a while. Guess most questions were generally answered, except for one area which I have been refusing to discuss. Maybe, maybe in the near future, but for now I would like some assistance from the public to address some questions from members of the healthcare industry. Hopefully Ling, a nurse working in Singapore who had launched her Visa 175 application, is still reading the blog and can provide some information. Ok. I know nursing is not exactly the same field as dentistry or pharmaceutical but it's still healthcare so maybe there is some relevancy here.

Email no.1
Ok, I'll get to the point of my email. Well, I applied to get my qualifications as a Pharmacist assessed by the Australian Pharmacy Council 3 weeks ago since Pharmacist is one of the occupations listed under the skilled occupation list. I don't dislike my life here but I would like to live in a nice house with lots of things to do in the surrounding areas, other than shopping and eating, and also would like to live in another country just for the heck of it.  I'd like to move to Australia and I think now will be the best time since I'm young, without any commitments and probably at the most adaptable stage of my life.
I'm intending to apply for the general skilled migration (independent) and maybe regional scheme. Do you have any advise for me with regards to applying through these schemes? The pluses and the minuses perhaps? Or the success rate? 
Also, one more burning question.. I'll be taking the Australian exam for pharmacy soon, if all works out as planned, and will lodge my application for visa after that. Just wondering..How long did your visa take to be approved?
Thanks for reading my email! I'd really appreciate any help or advice you'll be able to give me. Hope things are still kicking well on your side!

The writer of Email no. 1 declined to be named, I also edited some parts of the email to protect the writer from "risk of any council members or employers learning about his/her intention". There are so many questions here that I don't know where to begin with. I'll start off with the last question and this is my advice.

Wander off by yourself during the off-days and think over the migration intention carefully. Do it alone, go to a quiet place, set your mobile on silent and do this as regularly as possible. After all this is a life changing decision unless your intention is similar to MJ's [link] or J [link][his blog], or C as mentioned earlier which is to embark on an adventure of your life.

Forgive me for being blunt. If you cannot convince yourself that migration is good for you, drop the idea. Migration is nothing disgraceful, dodgy or shady. Instead of hiding your intentions, I will advise to you discuss it openly with relatives and friends. From the discussions, you will come to understand how you feel towards the whole issue better. From there, you will see where is the next path for you. Don't do it with colleagues or employers. They are not your friends and have no business to interfere in this. Even if they come to know about it, there isn't anything to hide. If you cannot come to terms with this perspective, don't migrate. Trust me, your journey will be a painful one unless there is a mindset change. Perhaps I can introduce you to Amy, who have gotten her Australian PR and has been in a miserable mental state fighting with herself if she should leave Singapore or give up the visa. You may learn much from a chat with her over dinner. Let me know if you are interested and I'll do an interest check with Amy.

The last question I can offer my view is the success rate of application. Most Singaporeans have a misconception of the Australian immigration system. It doesn't work the same way as the Singapore immigration system, where many cases of PR applications are approved on a case-by-case basic. I'm not saying there isn't some backdoor activities for the Australian system but the main system is very straightforward. I'll summarise. If you:

1) Are qualified
2) have chosen the right visa to apply
3) have provided the correct documents
4) have paid up in the right currency

Your success rate is 100%. It is as simple as that. Under the new migration guidelines [read here], the big question will be how long? Without data from successful applicants under the new system, it is impossible to answer this one. However, I have reasons to believe healthcare professionals still have a special priority among other vocations. [read this]

Email no.2
Hi Singaporeanson!
Nice to meet you and I hope you're doing fine in Australia! I chanced upon your website recently and it was very insightful! (esp when I have tons of questions back in my head about working in Aus). I guess it would be better for me to e-mail you instead of commenting on your blog.

Anyway, me and my sister(a nurse) are actually very keen to work in Australia. Do you have any idea on how well the prospects are for these two professions in oz? I understand they're listed in SOL but then, like what you've said, it's not easy to get a visa to work there now. Is there a serious shortage of dental professionals and nurses there now? will the chances of us applying be higher (other than meeting all the necessary requirements)? 
So far what have you heard about these industries there in Australia? I guess racial prejudice is always there but how bout in healthcare itself? will they want to hire Asians or even Singaporeans?

Don't mind me for bombarding you with so many burning questions!

Hello, I am doing alright here. Thank you for asking and reading this. The answers to your first questions is here [read this].

Regarding racial prejudice, it is worth a post on itself already. I have so much to say about this but I am afraid I'll be hurting some's feelings again if I get started so I have been holding myself back. Unless you are prepared to bear full responsibilities if/when I get backlash from my friends, public and anonymous Choked-on-cokes lurking here.

But I won't let you down and leave in disappointment. I'll share with you my personal experience instead. My daughter Albany was born in Perth. My wife was 5 months pregnant when we first came. We were referred to King Edward Hospital, arguably the best public maternal hospital in Perth. Over the months, we were attended by an Indian doctor, a Chinese (suspected to be Singaporean or Malaysian) who later went on to be the doctor delivering my baby and of course locally born Australian doctors.

My wife was also attended well by a midwife from Hong Kong, another from Korea other than the local midwives. We have absolutely nothing to say about the entire team except for nice things. I am not implying that any sort of racial discrimination does not exist here, though I haven't experienced any myself. Very importantly, we should not approach Australia with the same perspectives about racial discrimination like we have in Singapore. We Singaporeans ARE racists and that is why we are AFRAID of racism on the wrong receiving end. Please.... don't get me started. We'll just end here, I hope you get something useful out of here. Stay in contact.

I'll like to invite the public to share their knowledge and insights healthcare applicants as well as job prospect in not just Perth but the other parts of Australia as well. Please feel free to share whatever you know so we are all benefit from it.


  1. lol... nice insight about the racism in Singapore...

  2. I would like to remind email writer 2 that she'll have to score at least a 7 for the IELTS Academic test in order to gain registration to the AHPRA. If she is able to do that then job opportunities are there for nurses. I'll hook her up with a Singaporean nurse turned nursing recruiter once she gets her PR, if necessary.

    Asian nurses have a reputation for working hard so as long as email writer 2 can show that she speaks English and not Singlish there will be no discrimination.

    Haha, I have met J and he is yan dao - he looks better than me anyway! J is authentic and has spunk, and he knows what he wants so I have no doubt that he'll be in NZ for good before long!

  3. ThE healthcare sector is very keen to employ people with the right qualifications no matter where you are from. At the moment we have a lot of people from Asia especially in medicine,as the country areas particularly, are very short of qualified personal.

  4. Hi CK, in Singapore we only needs a Diploma to be a Registered Nurse or Physiotherapist.

    Can I check with you if I have a Dip & 3 years of experiences as a Registered Nurse in Singapore, will I be to become a Registered Nurse, Enrolled Nurse or Nurse Practitioner in Australia?

    Can I check with you if I have a Dip & 3 years of experiences as a Physiotherapist in Singapore, can I become a Physiotherapist in Australia (This is because Australian must have at least a degree in Physiotherapy from a list of Australia Universities to become a Physiotherapist in Australia)?


    1. David,

      It is not that you only need a Dip to work as a RN in singapore. It was because that's the only qualication you can find in Singapore when every nurses was trained in poly. As you know, poly can only award Dip or Specialist Dip at the most. In a way, it also keep the labour cheap as a Dip can'tc ommand a higher pay than degree. Similar 3yrs courses conducted by hongkong polytechnic university will award
      the student w degree. You may be able to get your dip accepted by the professional body as long as you can proof that the syllabus is equivalent with Aus standard.O therwise, you can get a degree conversion
      or physio n nursing with university of Sydney which conduct the lesson at SIM campus. It is a one year course and costs ard SGD12k. There may be some cheaper distance learning courses by UK and Australia. If you can't meet the full Australia standard, the assessing authority will advise you to take further formal qualification or they may ask an Australia hospital to assess your skill and competency. Of course, you have to borne the fees.

    2. Hey David,

      With a Dip in Nursing and 3 years of nursing experience, you should be recognized as a RN by AHPRA (I was with only 1 year of experience). FYI, the Nanyang Poly Dip in Nursing syllabus was based on the one by Uni of Sydney, it's only because it's taught by a polytechnic that's why it's a Dip.

      A Nurse Practitioner requires a Master degree!

      I am unable to comment on registration for physiotherapists, sorry!

    3. CK is correct. I was the 7th batch when we used to have lecturers from UOS teaching in NYP at that time. NYP syllabus is based on UOS, but still it is a Diploma. So, you will need to proof your qualification combined with experience is comparable with Australia standard.

  5. Too apply for PR and a job concurrently is a lengthy process. Some occupation might be in a SOL list but it doesn't mean there is a job vacancy. For eg, pharmacy is extremely saturated in Perth unless you don't mind to work in regional. Is hard to get a Fixed permanent job, mostly parttime or contract. likewise, we currently have a dentistry graduate who can't find a job and working as a researcher now. Nursing is still in demand as far as I know. I came in as visa 457 which is sponsored by the hospital before applying for PR visa 175. Temp business visa 457 took 2months to be approved and 175 took 8mths. Priority processing is given for application w state sponsored.

  6. Email1: regional will be able to put your under priority 1 but you need to get an employer who is willing to sponsor your application. Sponsor= support but you still may have to pay for the costs urself. Regional application will be assigned to a case officer immediately whereas 175 applications is still for 1june2012 as of today which is 14mth wait retrospectively. What you have plan is correct, always get your professional qualification assessed first. IELTS is generally compulsory for the Professional registration as well as helping you to get more points for the PR. I am not sure which professional body is governing pharmacy but you do need a statement of accreditation to proof that you hv the skill to perform the job as per SOL. Please do not get dismay with the amount of paperwork that you have to prepare. Once you started the process, things will fall in place. Good luck!

    1. Hi mng, i'm currently in the process of getting the accreditation. And yes, the paperwork up ahead is pretty daunting, so your encouragement really means a lot to me. I guess I just have to take it one step at a time. Thanks for your advice :)

    2. Tips for accreditation. Plan your steps well. Get the paperwork from NYP organised first. If you lost the Academic booklet, you can go back to NYP SHS to ask for help. Make sure you get them to certify true copy. Before you send them out, help yourself by scanning a colour copy. You may need them in future. IELTS: Do not take this lightly. However, with enough preparation and practice, you will pass the required standard. Personally i prefer British Council than IDP as you are able to get Free Online Tutorial and there is a IELTS preparation book that you can purchase. IELTS results are valid for 2year. Police clearance: From Oct 2010, police clearance is only issued to Singaporean. PR need to appeal with SPF. Make sure you bring a proof to support that police clearance is necessary for your employment/immigration etc. Note, it only valid for 1year from date of issue. The assessing officer are often people not from your same profession. So, do not expect them to understand our work at all. They will follow word by word on things that is listed on the lists. So, make sure you show them what they want. At times, they will keep asking for additional information. Even before you reach Australia, you will realise that you may have already spend hundred or thousand just for the application fees, always remember 钱可以解决的问题,就不是问题!

  7. Email 2: nursing is in great demand in Australia. Not sure if your dental professional = dental therapist or dentist? Not very familiar with their job prospects. For WA, the new hospital Fiona stanley is due for opening next year, so we will need more allied health professional: radiographer, physio, nursing, OT. Some job may be saturated now but there is always a cycle of demand. My advice is start to apply for the visa even before you get a job if you are seriously considering about migrating. It is easier to get a job when the employer knows that you have the paperwork sorted. Don't have to worry about racism or discrimination at the workplace. Generally your colleague in the hospital are very tolerant with newmigrants as majority are migrants themselves. What I like working in hospital here is the work life balance, govt budget in investing on new equipment, and also the remuneration package.

  8. Hi CK & mng. Thank for your help.


  9. Hi, is local engineering degree holder required to sit for IELTS?

    1. Min IELTS of 6.0 for engineering degree holder is required if can remember correctly but no points will be given.

    2. thanks for answer, this is where I should start from. :)

  10. From the recent changes to the migration guidelines, you would get more marks if you have a good IELTS score - so I would say yes.

    It is not difficult if you are prepared for it, ie know what the different sections are. And there's no restrictions on how many times you can take it to get the score you want. I know of a Filipino who took the test 6 times (spending $1800) to get the result she wanted.

    It all boils down to this: Do you want it bad enough?

  11. Thanks CK and mng for chipping in 2 cents for our ladies here. Appreciate that

  12. Hi!
    Ling here. First time i'm commenting on a post although i have been reading this blog for many months... ; )

    I took my IETLS in Mar, scored an overall 8. Then sent my application to AHPRA on 1 April, and guess what, it has been 5 months and it's still not approved yet... there has been many to and fros asking for more information... i guess, just have to be patient and wait it out...

    hopefully, once i get AHPRA approval, i can start looking for a nursing job and apply for the working visa. can't wait!!!!! : )

    good luck to all!


  13. Ling, be patient as this is the normal Australia standard. It took mine 8months to get approval from my professional body. Worse, some of my document were lost during post when they asked for additional information. So, it is better to communicate through email to make sure they received what they need. Heart pain and wallet pain. Good luck there as all of us had went through the same path

    1. Mine took about 1 month, may be becos my degree was from AUS.

    2. Generally overseas qualification will take approximately 6mths. My extra two months was due to lost document and they actually won't followup/ send an acknowledgement of receipt. It was until I heard nothing for a month and contact them to realize the mistake. Mine qualification is NYP Dip + UOS Bac (offshore). Guess what: the supposingly UOS degree (taught in SIM) still need to revalidate even it was awarded by university of Sydney. Extra AUD 220 just for this validation.