The story behind my disappointment
Last year around the end of July, I was depressed. I was grappling with the reality of GP practice in Singapore. Realizing that patients wanted what they want rather than what I thought they needed as a medical professional. I had problems accepting it. My wife convinced me to go to Perth for a holiday. We went. At that time I never thought of moving to Australia because as far as I knew, Australia did nto want doctors.
When we returned to Singapore, we took a taxi home from Changi Airport. The taxi driver was telling us that he was an Australian PR. How he had sold his flat at the height of the property boom, bought a house in Perth and gotten his PR. His sons studied there and were now working. He was back in Singapore driving a taxi because he was bored in Australia. Now it was strange. But the taxi driver encouraged me to think of migrating to Australia. You guys know my views about Singapore.
Anyway I went home, opened the mailbox and there was the latest issue of the SMA newsletter. I flipped through the newsletter and there were 2 advertisements in it asking for Singapore doctors who were interested in working in Australia on a temporary or permanent basis. So I responded to the advertisements.
There was a prompt reply from one of them. They asked for my CV. I sent it. They asked me to rewrite it such that it reflected my GP experience. And I did. They got back to me and said that the state medical board had looked at it and said it was ok for me to make an application.
And thus the ball got rolling. I did my research on the locations. Where to stay. Cost of living. Procedure for taking the FRACGP exams, how to get full registration subsequently and how to then apply for PR after that was done. The recruitment company people were also very helpful. They were very efficient and answered all my queries promptly.
I had high hopes also that I could possibly start practising proper medicine rather than just pandering to the whims and fancies of people.
One of the requirements of the whole process was that I had to fly to Australia to visit practices and then sign with a clinic BEFORE formally applying to the medical board for processing. This was required by the state medical board. The recruitment company arranged for me to visit several practices over 2 days. I flew to Australia and made the visits. I was expected to pay for the airfare and accomodation for my trip. And I did.
I negotiated terms with a few clinics and signed with one of them in December. We had planned to submit my application in Jan 2006. And we did. And that's when trouble started.
Apparently because of the Dr Death case in Queensland, the press had been giving pressure to the medical boards. And the medical boards got spooked. So they started changing their views and criteria for foreign doctors wanting to work in Australia. At this very moment the word is still that they haven't made up their minds what they want to change or keep.
Anyway I asked when they would make up their minds and I was told, "Nobody knows. Australian beauracracy is a problem"
I decided to go ahead with the application anyway and get an answer. We had made plans and we needed an answer to be able to get on with our lives.
And so the answer came back as no.
Do I feel cheated? Yes. But I know the recruitment company did not set out to purposely cheat me. Do I feel that the system was flawed? Yes.
If there is one comment I would make. Having gone through the whole process, I think that the clinic visits and "interviews" with the clinic managers were but a formality. The real stumbling block was the Medical Board. Perhaps the process should be changed such that the medical boards approve the qualifications of doctors FIRST before asking doctors to fly all the way to Australia for the visits and interviews. The clinics would also be confident choosing candidates knowing full well that the medical board had already approved their credentials. So it works both ways. The medical board would also not lose any money from a loss in processing fees (it ain't cheap AUD$330) since they could still take the money and reject doctors from the outset. Perhaps the only downside is that Qantas, and the hotels would not benefit from these "failed" cases becoming their customers.
That way doctors will not face situations where they spend the time and money to go to Australia, do everything that is expected of them and then be told "No".
It was an experience for me. But a waste of my money and time in the end.
I lived with hope for the past 8 months. Now that hope is gone and I feel suddenly
empty and shallow again. It had been my crutch when I needed it. Now it's gone I
need to find a new one or learn to live without one.