Welcome to rural South Australia

Recently received the Winter 2013 edition of Ruraldoc, News from the Rural Work Force Agency.

This government funded  organisation is tasked with ensuring that those South Australians lucky enough not to be living in Adelaide can maintain still access to quality health care.  I received funding when I moved to Kangaroo Island and I remain grateful for this. In addition RDWA provide funding and support for ongoing medical education which is likely to be very welcome if the current Federal Labor government gets its way and caps self education expenses.

Snuck on the back page a list of a list of new country doctors for rural South Australians. I couldn’t help observe that some of the names are very difficult to pronounce. Without wanting to incite any racial redneck ranting, I do have concerns about the use of overseas trained doctors in country areas.  I recall a young doctor arrive who arrived in Nhulunbuy on the Friday afternoon flight from Darwin, jet lagged after flying in from Harare with his young family.  The first thing he asked me was were he could change his Zim dollars into Australian ones. He wasn’t the only overseas doctor whose first experience of providing medical care in Australia was remote Arnhemland. Hopefully this has changed and doctors who arrive from overseas have been orientated and nurtured with local practitioners.


To these doctors I would say welcome to country South Australia. May you all find a support in your community, your work enjoyable and  your patients grateful. And if any of you are Australian trained I do apologise for any perceived racial slurs.


2 thoughts on “Welcome to rural South Australia

  1. What amazes me is how the term ‘IMG’ continues to be applied. There are two docs in our practice (I am one) who trained overseas … Or at least did their basic medical degree there. However they’ve chosen to live and work in Oz, become citizens etc. indeed, the majority of my postgrad medical training (post intern) has been under Australian rules. Ditto the two Fellowships.

    Yet for workforce planning I am still termed an ‘IMG’ and every other year I have to field some peanut from Medicare who blithely tells me that ‘you’re not a proper doctor, you’re an IMG’

    The point is, much is made by workforce planners of ‘IMGs propping up rural health services’. Whilst that’s fair enough, the reality is that many of these are settled docs and families, committed to their work and life in the country. On paper 1/3rd of the KI medical workforce is ‘propped up by IMGs’ … Whereas reality is that these docs consider Australia home, and want to remain in the bush not flee to the city!

    We do have a problem with rural terms seen as punishment, when in fact they can offer better work-life balance, more varied medicine and a pretty good income!

    To those new docs, as Mark says, welcome to rural SA …. And congrats, you’re the lucky ones!!!

    But you will ALWAYS be considered an IMG by the bureaucracy, no matter how many hoops you jump through.

    Perhaps it is time to discontinue the term IMG onc you’ve met Aussie standards (AMC or Fellowship).

    After all, we dont talk of ‘overseas trained lawyers’ or ‘internationally trained plumbers’ do we?

    Fair go and all that…

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