5 Things You Must Do Before Becoming A FIFO Doctor

Fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) and drive-in-drive-out (DIDO) has become a staple working pattern for the Australian healthcare workforce. Although it is especially prominent in the oil, gas, mining, and energy industries, there are also FIFO medical jobs in public and private hospitals, GP practice, in occupational health, government services, Defence, and even overseas.

Before you take the leap into FIFO work as a doctor, there are some things you should do before making a commitment.

 

1. Decide what you want to do – and why

There are a few factors to consider here. Depending on your specialty area, there may be many, or just a few FIFO options open to you.

Do you like working in regional and remote areas? Could you work offshore? Would you prefer to work in a city area?

The other consideration is the rotation. Generally, rotations will be 10-14 days on (with the same time off) – but that varies from site to site. Usually, you’ll be working every day when you are on – plus there is the travel time to consider. If you are working offshore, rotations could be longer, and unpredictable (due to operational needs, weather, etc). Do you want a position for 12 months or more, or just some FIFO locum work every now and again?

So, think about what you envisage as your ideal scenario for FIFO work, and set some ground-rules for yourself in terms of what you’ll consider.

 

2. Prepare

Naturally, you need to be qualified for the positions you apply for. If it is hospital work you are after, generally your fellowship will suffice. If you are not a consultant, usually you’ll require a particular level of experience, for a position, and sometimes additional qualifications. These will vary by position.

If you are a GP interested in working on a mine site, energy project, vessel, etc, in addition to your usual triennium requirements, there are some qualifications which may sometimes be required. These include:

ALS or ELS

EMST

HUET/BOSIET (offshore survival courses)

There are also a number of other courses run by ACRRM, RACGP and ACEM that may be useful to have on your CV.

Now, we’re not proposing you rush out to complete these qualifications – just know that they can be advantageous in the market, and may be a pre-requisite for some FIFO positions.

 

3. Talk to others

There’s often a vast gap between how a position is described on an ad, and the reality of the position. Wherever possible, talk to friends and colleagues have worked in FIFO jobs. Ask them about their experience, what they have learnt, and warning signs to look out for. Try to find out as much information about the position you’re considering, and ask the employer or medical recruiter to arrange for you to speak with someone who is actually doing that job at that site (or has before).

Don’t forget to discuss the possibility of FIFO work with your partner and family. It can be very taxing on your loved ones for you to be away for weeks at a time – so consider this in your decision.

 

4. Work out your finances

Just as it’s a different working pattern, the remuneration model is different for FIFO work. Most commonly, you are paid for your time on, but not your time off. Travel days are not usually paid for, unless you are working that day. That said, every contract is different. Questions you should be asking are:

-Will you be paid as an employee or contractor?

-Will you be paid super?

-Is leave accrued (and if so, what is the procedure for taking leave)

-Are flights/travel paid for, or do you have to pay for that yourself?

-Is accommodation provided?

-Is food provided? Do you have to pay?

-Are uniforms/PPE mandatory?

-Can your partner/kids/pets travel with you? (in 99% of cases, no, but worth asking if it is relevant to you)

 

Naturally, you should speak with your accountant/financial advisor about how the remuneration works for you.

One of the downsides of FIFO work is that you are at the mercy of the wider market. A sudden downturn in oil prices can leave you without a job, or with the employer renegotiating your remuneration. That said, there will generally be a position somewhere else to go to. Just know that FIFO jobs are not a ‘job for life’ – you’ll need to approach them with a level of flexibility.

 

5. Talk to some employers/agencies

A good start would be to browse some job ads and talk to an specialist medical FIFO jobs agency like Beat Health about what the options could be for you. It’s never too early to start looking, because you might need to prepare with courses, or give notice in your current job. Keep in mind that not every position is advertised.

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