I haven’t seen many blog posts about the whole medical experience when it comes to applying for an Australian visa onshore. I would have liked to read about other people’s experience because I HATE going to the doctor. I get anxiety about having to step into a doctor’s office–and don’t even start me on needles, let alone getting blood drawn. I know these are all irrational fears but they are fears nonetheless. Even so, my medical experience was a breeze–not bad at all! So if you’re like me and are agonizing over your upcoming medical, perhaps this post will make you worry a bit less.
First of all, my medicals were requested on November 25. I went to the online form and started filling it out. You can only make your appointment up to two weeks from the current date (so, having made the appointment on November 25, the LATEST I could make my appointment for was December 9). If you make the appointment online, you will pay at the time of booking. My medical, chest x-ray, and blood test cost a total of $353 AUD. Note: you’ll need your HAP ID which will come with the request for more information.
I was happy to see that you are allowed to bring an adult friend/chaperone with you into the medical examination. I tried to get an appointment on a day that my husband was off work so that he could come with me, but was unfortunately unable to do so. Cue additional anxiety. (Again, it wasn’t that bad!)
The site says to call in if you would like to request a female doctor. I am much more comfortable with female doctors, so I did. That said, I didn’t end up getting one (more on this below), and it wasn’t bad at all. However, given that experience, if you need a female doctor as a strong preference or, say, for religious reasons, you will want to be pretty adamant about getting one to ensure your preference is heard.
Fast forward to December 9. My appointment was at 8:45, and they said to arrive at least fifteen minutes before the appointment. I actually got there around 8:15 and just went in. I went to the Brisbane Clinic, which is on Adelaide Street. I’m not sure about other clinics, but this one was set up like this: first, you walk in to a waiting room where you have to take a ticket and sit down. Then, people working at the surrounding desks will call your number. When your number is called, you must present your passport and appointment confirmation. If you have made your appointment online, you will have already paid; if not, you’ll pay at this station. Afterwards, the person will take your picture. Then they will take your passport and documentation and hand it off to a nurse. You will then be sent to a second waiting room.
Note: You no longer need to fill out the health forms if you apply online. All of this is done online.
Now, on my appointment day there was a bit of a hiccup. The computer systems had stopped working, so there was a bit of a back-up of appointments. That said, I don’t know if the next part goes more smoothly usually than it did that day.
First, I was called back by a nurse to get my blood drawn for the HIV test. I had to sign a waiver saying that it was okay for them to release the results to Immigration. Getting blood drawn was the most dreaded bit for me. I have a tendency of fainting around needles, which I told the nurse just in case, but she was very understanding, calm, and kept talking while she attempted to find a vein. Having never gotten my blood drawn before, I wasn’t sure about how it was going to go, but I’d heard stories about people who have to get poked multiple times before they are able to find a good spot to draw. That terrified me. However, she was VERY good about it (perhaps because I told her I was a fainter?) and triple checked before she poked me to ensure she had a good spot. I looked away and she kept talking through it, which kept me a lot calmer than usual and kept my mind off the needle. It was done in seconds, and honestly, I barely felt it. My stomach didn’t even drop like it usually did–score!
After, I was sent straight to the x-ray room to get my chest x-ray. This was probably the most awkward part. I was sent to a little changing room to take off my shirt and bra, and put on the gown that they gave me. The gown was darker in colour but still a little see-through, so I felt SO awkward when I walked into the area with the x-ray to find an older male x-ray technician. After a bit of a chat (with my arms crossed over my chest) he took the x-ray no problem and that was that. Had to remind myself he does dozens of these a day and he’s a professional. Still.
After, I was sent back to that second waiting room for a while before I was called back for the urinalysis by another nurse. First she took my height and weight and had me read an eye chart on the wall to make sure I could see. Then she handed me a cup, and, well, I’m sure you’ve probably done that before. Again, there was no issue. That said, ladies, don’t make your appointment for that certain time of the month, or you’ll have to come back in to do this section of the medical.
Then it was back to the waiting room again. Finally, I was called back by the doctor–a male doctor, but he barely had to do anything. Honestly, I requested a female doctor MOSTLY because I thought the doctor would be doing everything, and I thought a female doctor would be more understanding of me fainting during the blood test if it happened (which it didn’t).
All the doctor did was have a bit of a conversation with me (there’s a section about “mental capacity” so I guess this was testing that?) then had me lay down checked my heartbeat/breathing, then felt my stomach (I guess to check if there was a hernia or something?), had me sit up to check my ears and eyes, then stand up to touch my toes, twist side to side, look left and right to make sure I had no back/neck injuries.
And that was that. The only additional thing I believe you have to do is if you’re a woman over 40, you need a mammogram. As I’m not over 40, though, this wasn’t applicable.
I just wanted to reiterate that this was NOT stressful. All of the nurses and the doctor were very friendly and put me very much at ease. I can’t stress enough how nervous I was, particularly about getting blood drawn, and the whole experience was perfectly fine. If you have hospital/doctor/needle-anxiety like me, please try not to stress about the medical too much! It isn’t going to be as bad as you think. I know you probably hear that from a lot of people, but take it from someone who was just as stressed out as you are: it really isn’t that bad.
As for how long it took, it was about two and a half hours from the time I walked into the building to walking out. I believe it usually takes a lot less time, but again, there were computer issues that led to backed-up appointments that day. (My appointment was scheduled for 8:45; I didn’t get my blood drawn until about 9:30!)
Let me know if you have any questions about the medical process and I can answer them here! If you’ve already gotten your medical done, I’d love to hear about your experience. Let me know in the comments below.