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Overseas-trained doctors programme a success

Saturday June 15 2002 Media Statement
3.30pm, SATURDAY JUNE 15

Overseas-trained doctors bridging programme a success


Health Minister Annette King says the success of 49 overseas-trained doctors in passing the NZ General Registration Exam (NZREX) proves the Government’s $11.8 million bridging programme will benefit our health system significantly.

“The programme begins to put right an injustice that occurred in the 1990s when the previous government allowed hundreds of overseas-trained doctors to come here without telling them they would need to sit registration exams before they could practice. No-one knows how many hundreds came. They found themselves doing jobs like driving taxis or other occupations that failed to recognize the valuable skills they had to offer this country.”

Ms King, who was speaking today to the New Zealand Overseas Doctors’ Association in Auckland, said the Government committed to the three-year bridging programme to resurrect the careers of these doctors. “This was a win-win situation both for the overseas-trained doctors and our health system.”

The bridging programme, developed by the Ministry of Health, the NZODA, the Medical Council, hospitals and medical schools, was designed initially to train up to 250 doctors over the three years in five intakes of 50 each, she said.

“The first intake of 43 has now completed the programme, and I am delighted that 27 doctors, or 62.8 percent, have passed NZREX. Another group of 22 have also passed NZREX. This group did not need the bridging programme, because they have already passed the US Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) and have competence in English.”

Ms King said the successful 49 will be granted probationary registration to practice medicine in New Zealand under supervision for one year.

“I have one reservation about the scheme so far however. Most participants in the programme wish to have their clinical placements in Auckland. There has been difficulty in filling placements on offer in the South Island. That disappoints me.

“In future schemes, I would like to see the Deed of Bond altered to stipulate employment in a rural area. Rural and provincial areas offer more opportunities for work. I also believe they will find rural jobs highly satisfying. Overseas-trained doctors have been amongst our most durable rural GPs. It is my hope a good many doctors on this programme eventually find their destiny in rural practice.”

ENDS

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