The Perils of doing your own Medical Registration
Over the years I have fielded many questions from doctors wishing to come to Australia and New Zealand about why they should use a medical recruitment agency like Wavelength.
Apart from the spectacularly obvious one (it’s a free service for candidates) there are many other reasons why this is a smart move.
Take finding the job for instance. When looking for work in another country you are stripped of all the networks and local knowledge that you would use to find a position closer to home. A good recruiter will not only know the lay of the land in your target country but will also have the inside running on some plum jobs that may not even be advertised on the market yet.
If you’re still not convinced let me introduce you to the bureaucratic obstacle course that you will face before you gain access to medical work in Australia and New Zealand.
Just to give you a sense of what you may have to go through here is a condensed version of the type of conversations you might have with your new employer during the process of applying.
“So congratulations on your new job! I’ll bet you're excited. Now can you just fill in about 100 pages of application forms, please? Don’t forget to have all of your documents certified by a notary (and yes, you do have to get your medical degree off the wall and out of its frame to photocopy). By the way, you have two weeks to get this back to us because there are some deadlines looming - the college only meets three times a year and then the medical board will need a month to look through your documents after that. Oh, and if you get anything wrong we will need to start all over again. That's going to cause some significant delays. Don’t forget the Australian Medical Council - they need duplicates?
Now things might be delayed a bit while we apply for ‘Area of Need’ (that’s a state government thing). And just for good measure we also need to keep the federal government happy by applying for ‘District of Workforce Shortage’ status - it’s kind of similar but different... and no, they don’t really talk to each other.
Now, depending on what the college say they may or may not want you to come to personally attend an interview next time they meet - will your employer let you take annual leave? On that subject, have you resigned yet? I beg your pardon - you're waiting till your registration comes through? Oh well, that will blow out your start date. So we had better start thinking about immigration... and that means paperwork for the whole family. Don’t forget the medicals, and no, your local GP won’t do - you’ll have to see a nominated specialist (too bad there is not one in your hometown).
What was that - funny shadow on your lung... and you did your elective in Botswana? We’d better get that further investigated by a specialist (yes, a nominated one in another town).
Your police checks are next. That might take a while. Really depends on your local police force and their regulations. Did I hear right? You lived in Mexico for a year? Better get some police checks done there as well - that's going to add a few weeks to your start date. You know all those documents you had certified in duplicate? Turns out you needed them in triplicate - can you go back to the notary? That's going to delay things a bit isn't it? So let’s wait a little while for immigration to get things done. Christmas coming up? - ooh, that’s going to push things out by a few weeks. Pity we didn’t get to the earlier medical board meeting all those months ago. And what’s that? Your kids insist on bringing your pet cocker spaniel? Now you tell us. Have you any idea how long he’s going to have to spend in quarantine?
By the way... before you can bill through Medicare you need to apply for a Provider Number - just a few more notarized copies and another form please... and you’ll need a Prescriber Number to write scripts. Oh, and when you arrive - I know you’ll be jet lagged but you’ll need to take original copies of all of your documents to the medical board for verification before they will finally register you. And if you forget anything - you guessed it - delays! Shame we didn’t get onto the Medicare and Prescriber Number issue earlier. You’re going to have to sit on your hands for another couple of weeks without pay until we sort that out... So you’re ready to start work - six months later than expected. Hmmm. Still excited?”
All the above are real examples that we have heard over the years from candidates who tried to do it themselves. Each scenario could have been anticipated and a delay avoided.
Going through this process is always tough, but it is a lot harder without proper guidance. That is why Wavelength has an entire department who do nothing else but immigration and regulatory work, including MARA registered Migration Agents. It is their job to ensure that you arrive on time and with your sanity intact.
Now please don’t think I am trying to put you off coming - the prize is truly worth the effort for those that prevail. However, there is a massive difference in the experience of going through the process, both in terms of time and frustration, depending on how expertly you are guided through it.
So, I repeat, you may think that finding a job overseas is easy to do on your own. Who knows, you might get lucky and find your dream job yourself, but I guarantee that there is no getting lucky with the regulatory process. So why leave it to chance when there is a company like Wavelength that will assign you to a guardian angel who will walk you through everything step by step.
Oh, and did I mention - this service is free for candidates. Register today to receive more assistance with your medical registration.
Dr John Bethell, Director of Wavelength International