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Training Package To Get Overseas Trained Doctors

MEDIA RELEASE

Rt Hon Wyatt Creech
Minister of Health
2 November 1999

TRAINING PACKAGE TO GET OVERSEAS TRAINED DOCTORS IN DOCTORS JOBS

"After considerable discussion and work, we have now moved to deal with the issues related to the group of overseas trained doctors who gained permanent residence in New Zealand but were unable to practice because they did not meet New Zealand Medical Council registration requirements", the Health Minister announced this afternoon.

"This structure and amount of the training required to gain the New Zealand recognised qualifications has now been determined. Provided they complete this training, they will be able to get jobs as doctors".

"We have been concerned that there are gaps in such areas as rural practise for example while there is a pool of people who with some training could have the skills and competence to fill the jobs. These skills are wasted. We've got anecdotal reports of them driving taxis, or sitting on social welfare benefits. We do not want that to continue.

"Many of these doctors immigrated to New Zealand only to discover when they arrived that they did not meet New Zealand registration requirements".

"The issues involved have been complex and difficult to resolve. We have been working with key groups in the health sector, including the Schools of Medicine, to get the right solutions".

While we do not want anyone practicing as a doctor in New Zealand who does not have the knowledge and competence to do the job, we do not want anyone held back who with a relatively minor level of additional training could practice medicine".

"We have initiated this programme so that over three years members of this group of overseas trained doctors can be properly qualified so they can help fill vacancies in rural or other areas where there are shortages and do the jobs they were trained for in their home nations".

"We estimate there are about 200 overseas trained doctors who have gained permanent residency who can't practise in New Zealand".

"The Overseas Doctors Association, the Medical Council, the Medical Schools and the Hospital and Health Services have been working with us to develop a training package that will lift the doctors skills and qualifications so they can do their job here."

The training package will:

· help those who have already passed NZ Medical Council exams to obtain supervised positions to complete probationary registration
· help those who have not passed the NZ Medical Council exams to either pass them, or alternatively complete a special programme based on the New Zealand medical degree exams.

"There will be 'strings attached' to this training package. The overseas doctors have agreed that once that once they are registered they will be available to work in areas of New Zealand where we need more doctors.

"This is a win-win for overseas doctors, the health profession and New Zealanders. We will make certain that the overseas trained doctors skills aren't wasted, and ensure New Zealanders don't miss out on health care," Mr Creech said.

"The cost of the programme has been factored into the health budget over the next three years. If all the training opportunities offered under the programme were takenup the cost of setting up the training programmes for next year is $4.9 million", the Minister said.

Details of Package

A three part package has been agreed by the Medical Council to help overseas trained doctors to gain registration to practise in New Zealand.

The package will be available only to those Overseas Trained Doctors who gained permanent residence in New Zealand under pre October 1995 immigration criteria and who agree to work in areas where there are shortages of medical practitioners.

1. Those who have not yet passed the Medical Council's examinations.

They would be offered:
· a short course of a few weeks' duration aimed at preparing them for an examination run by the Schools of Medicine.
· a special examination based on Years 3 and 5 NZ Medical School examinations as an alternative to United States Medical Licensing Exam. Those who passed this examination would gain entry to a special clinical training programme (6-12 months) similar to a trainee intern year. The course would be developed by the Medical Schools in consultation with the New Zealand Overseas Doctors Association and the Hospital and Health Services.
· Those who successfully completed that course would then be eligible to sit NZRex Clinical.

2. Those who have passed United States Medical Licensing Examination

They would be offered the option of accessing the special training programme (as for 1 above). However, successful completion of this special training programme would not be a prerequesite for them to sit NZREX Clinical.


3. Those who have passed the Medical Council's examinations but are unable to obtain positions.

They would be offered:
· a three month orientation course
· additional post entry training positions through the Clinical Training Agency.

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