This morning I’m speaking to Dr Wondu Alemayehu, an eye surgeon based in Addis Ababa, to talk about his collaboration with The Fred Hollows Foundation on a project to eliminate trachoma from Oromia - a region of Ethiopia which, with a population of 34 million, is larger than many African nations.
It’s not a new problem. Australia, with it’s metro-educated medical workforce, attractive coastal cities and ‘daunting’ outback, often finds it hard to lure doctors away from friends, family and their café latte lifestyles. Here is a synopsis of historical strategies tried:
Pick your favourite company. You know, the one that makes you feel like a cherished customer. Talk to their employees and you will probably find a bunch of people going about their business with effortless enthusiasm. Wavelength is such a place, and we are proud to say that we have been publicly celebrated ...
When I got my first junior doctor job in Australia in 1991, finding the right job was a real chore. There was no Internet to speak of, which meant limited knowledge and therefore limited choice. And by the way - all correspondence went snail mail - both ways!
I recently stayed with a good GP friend of mine in London. He is an excellent clinician, a compassionate human being and, above all, an incurable optimist. I was sad, therefore, to find him preoccupied with the decline of the NHS and disillusioned with his career working for it.
In a masterstroke of barely disguised money saving, Hockey has finally grasped the co-payment nettle and introduced a hefty $7 impost on the Australian public every time they want to see a doctor. I personally think $1 would have had the same effect without creating quite such a political firestorm.
Working with specialist physicians in Australia since 2008 I have coached hundreds of doctors through their next career move. For senior doctors a new job is 9 times out of 10 life-changing, sometimes involving relocation of the whole family.
The recent debate in Ireland over doctors' hours has brought back some not so fond memories of my own internship in Scotland. My record shift was 57 hours straight with about 1.5 hours sleep. I actually fell asleep whilst walking down the corridor to write up a paracetamol order.
For anyone with even a passing interest in how doctors get paid, all eyes are on Queensland at the moment. The new government is well down the path of making sweeping reforms to senior doctors' contracts and while the ‘whats’ are becoming clearer the ‘whys’ remain a little on the fuzzy side.
Nature teaches us a lot about the need for a rich and balanced ecosystem. Knock out one species and top predators starve, weeds and algae bloom and co-dependent species go extinct. So it is with the medical workforce which is large, essential and 24/7.
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About the Author
About the author
Dr John Bethell graduated from Aberdeen Medical School in 1990 and worked as a doctor in both the UK and Australia, launching Wavelength with co-founder Claire Ponsford in 1999. As a pioneer and market leader of medical recruitment in Australia Dr Bethell has seen the industry grow and mature. After two decades of helping doctors find work and healthcare employers find doctors, he sees the medical workforce world from a unique perspective.