Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Punjab Migrant Doctor's Tale

In "Passage to Wudinna", from the Focus magazine November 2005 (an Australian doctors magazine), the real life story of a Punjab doctor who came with his family to Australia only to leave rather quickly was recounted by the doctor himself.

It is hard to describe what this decision means to us. Before this, the question was "will I or won't I?", Now it is happening to us. Such a move requires great sacrifice. My mother, who is 66, will be left alone. I also have to leave behind a huge practice and a social network built up over many years.

I am first told that I will join a practice at Woomera, then a month later I was told I will be able to join a practice in Adelaide. All of sudden I get a call from my employer that I will be posted instead to Wudinna, on the Eyre Penisula.

We finally reach Adelaide. We are taken to Motel Granada. I have to carry all our luggage to our rooms; In Inda we have so many servants that we do not pick up even a small bag.

My boss takes me to the place where my future residence is still being renovated. It is slight out of town. There are no other homes nearby.

It looks like as if we are visiting a scene from a horror film. My whole family is demoralised.

The next day, Australia Day, I have to see only 5-6 patients the whole day. It is very boring.

Thre is no source of entertainment - no TV channels of interest. I am called in to attend to a patient that night, and I have to take the entire family with me, as no one wants to stay in that place without me.
In India, a lday alone in a far-flung house is an open invitation to rapists, robbers and other bad elements ...

We decide that night that we shall not stay here for three months; we wil go back in one month only.

Only one thing I can say - pure culture shock.

Doctors leaving India will leave behind:

a) all their servants,
b) most of your status - your patients do not fear you, and some can be very rude to you
c) patients who pay you nothing but expect everything (this is known as bulk billing)
d) big cities - Australia wants foreign doctors because they can compel migrant doctors to work in remote towns, akin to conscription. There aren't enough Australian doctors who want to work in these places, and for the politicians, getting doctors out to the bush is essential if they want to stay in office.
e) being a boss. You will work and earn money for somebody else, for possibly many years until you get your bearings.

But on the other hand, Australia is generally safe. There is a welfare system for those who could not find work, so people don't have to steal or rob.

The story also said that a migration agent said he could not migrate to Australia but for $500, he could see if "he could do something". Don't buy into this bullshit. You can contact the Department of Immigration directly and lodge forms yourself. There is no preferential treatment if you go through a migration agent. By the way, Australia is still short of doctors, doctors will have no problem in getting a visa.

If you are thinking about migrating and concerned, best thing to do is to find out from other migrant doctors. Alternatively, post your questions to me and I'll try my best to answer them.

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