Completing medical school is an outstanding achievement. But as a doctor, it’s just the very beginning of your learning curve.

As junior doctors on the journey to becoming an established General Practitioners, there is much to consider to make their process smoother and more fruitful for both themselves and their colleagues.

Below is some sage advice many bold and brash young doctors wish they had known on their climb up the medical ladder.

The doctor hierarchy in Australia

Every country uses different terminology.

In Australia, there are generally three levels of junior doctors.

Intern – This is basically work experience. Interns can register for general medical registration after a period of 12 months.

Resident – A resident is a doctor who has general registration and is working in a hospital under the supervision of a specialist. Both interns and residents may be referred to as Junior Medical Officers (JMOs).

GP Registrar – Has at least three years’ experience, supervises junior doctors and is training to become a specialist.

Junior Medical Officers

This applies to interns and residents.

Be organised – Whether you use an app or the old fashioned in and out box, make sure you are on top of everything, every step of the way. That means knowing patients’ medical histories and pending results. 

Maintain a list of things that need to be done each day and prioritise them, remembering that patients with the most urgent needs go to the top of the list.

Don’t be afraid to ask – You’re new to this and you’re not expected to know everything. So if you’re uncertain, ask someone on your shift. And if you begin to feel overwhelmed, ask for help! It is far better than blindly ploughing on and hoping for the best.

Remain open-minded – Don’t be surprised or concerned if you begin your journey as a JMO wanting to specialise in one field, only to be deterred and drawn to another. Be a sponge! Soak up all the information you can and soon enough, you will uncover your path.

Plan your career – When you settle on where your interests lie, talk to as many registrars, consultants and General Practitioners as you can about how to best get a training position. Consider too the employment prospects as well as the potential implications on the kind of life you expect to lead. 

Work/life balance – It may seem odd to talk about it when you’re only just beginning but to stay in this game and be successful, it is worthwhile being aware of it sooner rather than later. Medicine can be a brutal and mentally challenging business. It’s imperative it doesn’t consume your life at the expense of your happiness and wellbeing.

Be affable – Being a successful doctor is as much about communication as your technical skills and knowledge. Introduce yourself to patients with a warm smile and they will respond much better. Engage them by talking with them, not at them. Ask the right questions and you are likely to gain a mountain of information which will assist in their diagnosis and your treatment of them.


Being a registrar is a significant step up from a JMO and encompasses a diverse range of responsibilities.

You are representing your consultant – Your job is to step up for your consultant when they cannot be present. This includes the investigating, diagnosis and management of patients. Take a proactive role rather than a passive one and work with your consultant, advising them of your assessments.

Trust your judgement but know your limits – Back yourself and the knowledge and skills you have gained thus far. But don’t ever guess. Always revert to the advice of your consultant whenever big decisions or patient safety is on the line. 

Make the most of your opportunity – Exams are important but there is really no substitute for hands on learning. Throw yourself into situations that challenge you. There is no better way to grow as a doctor. And grab any additional opportunities you can to grow your exposure to certain environments, whether it be attending a procedure or helping out at another clinic.

Be prepared to take the reins – It’s more than likely that you will at times find yourself the most senior doctor on site, whether it be after hours or on a night shift. Familiarise yourself with the most common scenarios that occur during these times and be prepared to act accordingly.

Learn to delegate – As a registrar, you may need to delegate some jobs to your JMOs. Always give clear instructions in terms of what you require, follow up to ensure those tasks have been performed correctly, and don’t be afraid to help them out if they are struggling or appear to be swamped. You were one not that long ago.

Work/life balance – This is one we come back to a lot to but that is because it is so important. To function at your peak, you need to be healthy and happy. That means plenty of sleep and exercise but plenty of fun and friends as well. When your annual leave comes around, don’t use it up on study, take some down time!

Apply now to work at AHA

There are outstanding opportunities for junior doctors available right now AHA Clinics in Seaford, South Australia.

We pride ourselves on a fantastic culture that supports doctors of all ages both professionally and personally.

Our purpose built, state-of-the-art facilities utilise natural light and make coming to work here a real dream.

If that sounds attractive to you, we’d love to hear from you.

You can learn more about our practice and register your interest here.

Or you can call us today on 0411 059 421 or email