Australian Hospital Hierarchy

Australia is known to be one of the best places in the world as far as healthcare services are concerned.  Not only are the medical facilities highly professional but also well managed and organized. Australia follows a strict organization or hierarchical structure as far as placing its hospital staff is concerned.

The staff consists of not just the doctors and nursing division but also the administrative staff and lower level executives. If you wish to understand the Australia hospital hierarchy a little better, then you can go through the following given information.

Australian hospital hierarchy

Senior Medical Officers (SMOs)

Senior Medical officers or SMOs form the topmost level in the hierarchical structure of Australian hospitals.  They can be either appointed as general or non specialist officers or in a staff grade positions. Non specialist officers are those who may not be qualified in a specific field but work in a specialty under the supervision of a specialist. On the other hand, the SMOs who work in a staff grade position are those individuals who may be qualified in another medication field or jurisdiction. In most of the cases, international medical graduates maintain this title until their fellowship is conferred by some registered and relevant Australian specialty university or medical college.

The following are some sub divisions of this post:

  • general practitioners
  • staff specialists
  • Career hospital doctors.

Visiting Medical Officers (VMOs)

These specialists have their own private practice or are the general practitioners who consult either at private hospitals or public hospitals on a part time basis.


These are those doctors who have been accepted into an accredited specialist training program with a nominated college in a clinical specialty.

Principal House Officer (PHO)

PHOs come at the next level in the hierarchical structure of healthcare management in Australia. These are those who are currently studying in the 4th year of their post graduation studies and are also given some responsibility in the hospital as far as treating patients is concerned. A PHO is basically a medical practitioner who is not undertaking an accredited course of study which leads to a higher medical degree.  This position is equivalent to that of a Registrar.

Resident Medical Officers (RMOs)

The following are the three subdivisions within the level of RMOs:

Senior House Officer (SHO)

This is the 3rd year of post graduation. A SHO is a medical practitioner who has not yet been appointed as a registrar or PHO.

Junior House Officer (JHO)

This is a medical practitioner in his 2nd year of post graduate studies and is still a few years away from becoming a registrar or PHO


An Intern is at the lowest level of hierarchy in the Australian hospital organization. An intern is a medical practitioner who is still in the 1st year of Post graduation and doesn’t have any major responsibilities related to treating patients.  They mainly have an observation related role where they see what doctors are doing, learn from them and may make reports of what they learn.