"First thoughts were, wow, we now live in Paradise!"

GP, Dr Fraser Smith grew up in Derby, England. He has always been a big fan of adventure and the outdoors.

"I enjoy football, cycling, and generally exploring/travelling! I’m a big fan of food and wine, love eating out at new places, and learning about food culture."

He recently made the move to live and work as a GP in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. Medrecruit assisted him in finding a role and everything he needed to make the move. We caught up with him to find out what moving his GP career to New Zealand has been like.

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

I went to medical school at the University of Leeds. I liked the idea of a sociable job, working with people and always learning new things. I went in general practice because I like getting to know people, understand them and their families, and I enjoy the challenge of only having clinical skills to rely on before test results come back.

What inspired you to make the move to New Zealand as an IMG GP?

My partner and I had always had this idea that New Zealand was a magical place, with incredible scenery, loads of space, and a relaxed way of life. Then in 2019 we visited for 7 weeks, realised all of that was true, and spent the next 3 years planning how we would move out here! We had a fair few friends who had worked out here and assured us that the working conditions and pay were fantastic.

Where in New Zealand did you relocate to? And what were your first thoughts when you arrived?

We relocated to Hawke’s Bay.

My first thoughts were, wow, we now live in paradise! We always dreamed of moving to somewhere with a Mediterranean climate, with great food and wine but we can’t speak Italian! There’s so much space and so many outdoor activities, it’s right up our street. At first, we had reservations about rural life being big foodies, but I can promise that there are more great places to eat in the Bay than in most British cities, outside of London.

How was the settling process?

Settling was really easy, but a bit of a funny story! One of my work colleagues asked us to housesit as she was going away for 8 weeks, which was an incredible opportunity for us. We got stuck into living on a “lifestyle block” with a dog, 4 cats, 10 chickens, and 27 sheep! Best eggs I’ve had in my life, which went beautifully with all the avocados in the garden. Kiwis are such a friendly bunch, on my first day I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but the patients just laughed about it and we got there in the end! There’s always so much to do, food events, beaches, wineries to visit, and scenic walks to go on. Everyone is invited to everything, it’d be really hard to not make friends!

How does life compare as GP in New Zealand in comparison to the UK?

I have found it quite different. 15-minute appointments and having your own patient list have really suited me. I’ve had the opportunity to build better rapport with patients. Waiting times for a routine appointment are a couple of days rather than weeks, and patients can directly message me so I don’t worry about the lack of accessibility. There generally feels like there is more time to properly address patient’s issues, rather than firefighting. It must be said though, living rurally closes the door to many specialties I was used to in the UK, and it is difficult to hear when a patient tells you they cannot afford their prescription or to come back for a review.

Do you have any advice for other IMG GPs looking to make the move to New Zealand?

Go for it!! It’s been an incredible experience and an opportunity not to be missed. There’s a healthy work-life balance and so much to explore!

If you are looking to make the move to New Zealand to live and work as a doctor, register for our free service, and one of our dedicated IMG team will be in touch. They can assist you in everything from finding a role, to immigration and set you up for a successful relocation.

Find out everything you need to know about moving to Australia or New Zealand in our free IMG Guide.
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26 November 2022Article by Julia Medrecruit Editor