Dr Cici Chenliu on locuming in New Zealand

New Zealand locum doctor

Dr Cici Chenliu is a Canadian doctor living in Australia. She recently decided to travel to New Zealand to work as a locum doctor. Medrecruit supported her in this process.

When Cici was in Queenstown we were lucky enough to have her come in and visit us in the Medrecruit Head Office.

We had a chat with her about her journey so far.

Can you tell me a bit about you and why you became a doctor?

I feel like it's a question I've been asked many times before. Every time I'm asked, I think, "Oh, where do I start?"
I guess it's been something I've thought about since I was a child. There's no specific reason why; I think it's just the general desire to help people.

I believe that's typically where most people start. For me, it's a sound career choice in the sense that it combines my interests and competencies.

I've always been interested in the human body. I studied exercise physiology. The opportunity to work and accomplish great things was compelling. I think those are the two main factors that drew me towards medicine. It has also taken me to places around the world, which is another significant factor.

You've come over to New Zealand from Australia. We often see doctors going the other way. What inspired you to come over to New Zealand?

Well, it's really a no-brainer, because New Zealand is beautiful. I'm from Canada, living on the west coast. There are many similarities between New Zealand and my home. When I first arrived, I thought, "Oh, it's just like Vancouver, BC, except the mountains are closer." When we arrived in Queenstown, it was snow-capped and incredibly scenic.

For me, it was a great opportunity to truly have a working holiday, to travel around, and engage in a lot of outdoor activities.

It also gave me the chance to experience a different medical system, to explore the differences and similarities between New Zealand and Australia. We often treat Kiwis in Australia, so it's helpful to better understand their culture and where they come from.

Can you tell me a bit about the places you’ve locumed in so far and which has been your favourite?

My locum year has only just started, but since graduating, I have worked in the Wollongong area, specifically in the Illawarra Shoalhaven region. This includes Wollongong, Nowra (which is the Shoalhaven area), and Milton. This year, I've worked in Port Macquarie, located on the central coast of New South Wales.

Since arriving in New Zealand, I've worked in Palmerston North and will be moving on to work in Christchurch.

It's hard to compare because the systems differ so much. Illawarra Shoalhaven is where I consider home. It's nostalgic for me, and it's where I've made the strongest connections in Australia.

In Palmerston North, the rostering was very thoughtful. The main difference lies in the work processes like working on paper versus using different computer systems.

I think my first experience in New Zealand and Palmerston North is probably the most memorable. I've met so many international doctors there, all from different backgrounds, who've started working in this challenging environment and have really thrived.

Did you have any hesitations about coming over to work as a locum in New Zealand?

I'm a Canadian who's studied in Australia and now I'm in New Zealand. I was born in China and moved to Canada, so travelling is not a new aspect of my life.

I think our family's perspective is that you need to utilise the resources available globally to achieve what you want out of life.

If you have a vision, you do what's necessary to overcome those barriers, and it's worth it.

Coming to New Zealand was pretty straightforward. I recently received my permanent residency in Australia, which was a significant milestone last year. So as soon as I gained residency, it struck me that now I can work in New Zealand quite easily. So it was a no-brainer. The next step was figuring out how I could work in New Zealand.

It was just a matter of seeking out the resources, which were already available to me. I did a bit of research to understand what the process might look like, then got in contact with people who could help me and really utilised those resources.

I think that's what this process has taught me: you just have to keep pushing forward. If you have a timeline you want to stick to, you need to make sure that's known and that people help you

How did Medrecruit support you?

This wouldn't have happened without you.

I think it's because much of the process requires someone with local knowledge and a working professional with established relationships with hospitals.

I trust that you have a system, and I trust that you are working professionals. I believe that you exist to support us.

I was really pleased with how quickly things transpired and how I managed to complete all my paperwork within weeks before my departure to New Zealand.

What would you say to other Australian doctors thinking of locuming in New Zealand?

I believe a lot of Australian doctors consider working in New Zealand because like-minded individuals often enjoy doing similar things. Especially if they're taking time off to create a life balance whilst working, they often choose places where they can enjoy the outdoors. In New Zealand, which is an easy place for Australians to work, it's a no-brainer.

It's really a question of whether you've got the idea and if you want to chase after it.

There's always going to be a question of pay, but you don't come to New Zealand to get rich. You're here to experience the culture and the environment. So I would definitely recommend not letting that be your barrier.

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Jordy Black
06 June 2023Article by Jordy BlackMedrecruit Editor