Part of doctordownunder.com’s goal is to provide a platform for Doctors who have migrated to Australia to describe their experiences for the benefit of others. This post is a Q&A with a recent Consultant/Specialist who has moved to Australia. Interestingly, like the first account published, this Consultant/Specialist was born in India and migrated to Australia from the UK. This doctor is a Psychiatrist – unlike the first doctor we published.
Here is the interview, published verbatim:
Where were you born?
What passports do you hold?
Where you complete your basic and advanced training?
MBBS: India, Basic and advanced psych training: UK.
What is your medical specialisation?
Old Age Psychiatry.
What country did you migrate from to Australia?
How long have you been in Australia?
Why did you to move to Australia?
Better lifestyle, pay, work-life balance, climate, autonomy. Hopefully also being valued more as a doctor.
Do you work in metro, regional or remote Australia?
How did you find the college assessment and medical registration processes?
Relatively straightforward, but that was probably because I had excellent agents who guided me through what would have been an otherwise convoluted process. The process is long. The college application form is pretty detailed, and it is sometimes difficult to translate previous experience to the exact numbers asked for in the form. It helps to seek advice from colleagues who have successfully navigated the process. Also, right at the beginning, colleagues gave me the impression that the steps involved in the process would be paid for by the agency, which set up unrealistic expectations. Agencies will usually courier documents over at no cost to you, but it is your own responsibility to pay the individual fees for each step in the process. Reimbursement of these expenses is not necessarily guaranteed.
Was it what you expected?
Overall, yes. Although the practice of psychiatry seems to be slightly more general as compared to that in the UK.
Being as honest as possible, please describe your experiences of working as a Specialist in Australia to date covering as much of the experience of working as an overseas trained doctor as you can think of.
There seems to be a significant difference due to the mix of private and public services. Community services, NGOs and Social Work seem to provide less support than in the UK, leading to gaps and a different approach to discharge planning and risk management. The Substantial Comparability pathway involves 4 case based discussion. For each, one has to prepare 3 cases from which, the examiner will select one for discussion. The first and second case base discussions are within a couple of weeks of each other. This will be a busy time and planning leave during this process will not be easy. These are not vivas as in an OSCE or an exam, but one is expected to have prepared reasonably well. As an outsider, one has to create credibility both socially, within your own team and within the organisation. There is a concept of a ‘good organisational citizen’ which is expected of all employees.
What surprised you the most about the medical system?
The degree to which private practice is allowed, as compared to the UK.
What surprised you most about the Australian society?
People are generally friendly and welcoming, which may have something to do with the sunny climate.
How were you treated by your Australian trained peers?
Generally helpfully and with respect, although sometimes it may be difficult for locally trained peers to accurately gauge the knowledge and skills of IMGs, which can sometimes be compounded by limited knowledge of local systems, although the underlying skills transferred may be robust.
As a migrant, have you experienced any xenophobia, racism or workplace unfairness because you are an IMG?
Not overtly, although there seems to be some discussion among IMGs regarding being careful not to attract complaints, keeping a low profile, not making too many changes, especially while on the pathway to fellowship and until citizenship has been attained.
Photo credit: Grampians National Park, Australia.
Photo credit: Great Ocean Road, Peterborough, Australia.