What is it like moving to New Zealand to work as a doctor?
Coming from a cardiothoracic ITU and organ transplant centre in London, to practising medicine in rural New Zealand is quite a change.
In late 2020, Dr Abdullah Khalid made the move from London, UK to work as a doctor in laid-back Taranaki. He’s noticed differences in the lifestyle, ways of working and approaches to medicine – particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Medrecruit gave him a call to find how things were going at his new placement in New Zealand.
What differences have you noticed, from a doctor’s perspective, between the UK and New Zealand?
There are certain differences. The NZRDA (New Zealand Resident Doctors’ Association) are stronger here and they protect doctors’ rights and that’s nice. You’re provided meals at work which is a nice change!
But that said, working in New Zealand, in a more rural location, is a struggle with some things. For example, you have to call across different hospitals to get things done. You have to call Auckland for some things, Waikato for some things then Christchurch for other things. It can get confusing and there’s a bit to get around in your head.
Then, obviously, the guidelines are a little bit different and the drugs that are funded are a little bit different as well. Some of the drugs I’d use in the UK aren’t funded here, so I can’t prescribe that, and the antibiotic guideline is also stricter. So, that’s difficult to get your head around in the beginning.
How have you found the lifestyle change – from the UK to New Zealand?
The lifestyle change is… much more outdoorsy, a sort of nature-orientated lifestyle where everyone is a lot more active. That’s quite nice. It’s not as multi-cultural as London, but it’s definitely more outdoorsy.
Have you been getting out into nature in New Zealand?
Yeah, I have. I’ve been to Hawke’s Bay […] I haven't been to enough places to recommend anywhere but I think Hawke’s Bay is very nice. There’s great wine there!
How did you find applying to work as a doctor in New Zealand?
I found the process was quite easy because I worked with Medrecruit. They help you figure out what you can do and what you want and they help you look. Or, they look for you and send you a position and you can just tell them, “yes, I do think that position will be suitable for me”… then they send your CV, and help organise paperwork and interviews for you.
Once they’ve got an offer for you, they help with your MCNZ application and they stick with you, that’s quite nice. Medrecruit can handle all of that and that makes it that bit easier.
How is your current placement going?
I like the city. It’s more rural NZ medicine than I am used to and it took a while to get used to that. But I like the lifestyle outside of work. It’s up and down. It took a couple of weeks to get there, to adjust.
Every hospital has different computer systems, so you expect that but it’s more about what services are available in that hospital and where to send them to, that’s the thing that takes the longest to learn.
Do you have any tips for doctors thinking about moving to New Zealand?
You have to be willing to be flexible with the you way work. I think it’s the same in any country – you have to be flexible in the work that you’re doing.
I’d recommend, if you’re coming here to New Zealand, to have an open mind and to realise that if you’re coming from a different country, things are not going to be the same.
What was behind your decision to move to New Zealand?
I just wanted to explore the country and the different culture. During these Covid-times, it’s been quite nice being here with the lesser restrictions here, compared to the UK. And I do think it is a beautiful country.
Looking back, Medrecruit really does make the whole application process really easy for you. I was working with Sarah and Rachel and they do a good part of the work for you and that really helped.