When Dr Ayman ElHaj decided to come and settle with his family in Australia and practice medicine as an Intensive Care Doctor here, he faced nothing but discouragement.
“It’s very hard for overseas trained doctors to find a job”, many forewarned the doctor.
“A lot of overseas trained doctors end up giving up on medicine altogether to make ends meet after years of failing in the accreditation exam,” others cautioned.
The apprehension was everywhere. But Dr Ayman took the leap of faith.
“The discouragement shocked me but here I am to prove that hard work, dedication and perseverance can break any stereotype threat existing,” Dr Ayman proudly unfolds.
It’s a well known fact that the Australian Health System is one of the strictest health systems in the world. Medicine is one of toughest and most competitive majors to get into in Australian Universities. Graduating is even a bigger challenge.
Even the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is very strict when it comes to approving prescribed medications and even vaccinations in the health market.
And when it comes to overseas doctors, the rules and regulations become even tougher. Even international medical graduates with honours need to go through several, rigorous examinations both medical and communicative, theoretical and practical, in order to become fully registered doctors in Australia.
The process is not easy and does indeed take time.
“Partially because of the tough process overseas doctors have to go through, a stereotype threat has been formed regarding overseas trained doctors,” Dr Ayman explains. “Some people have this image that overseas trained doctors are less competent while others just don’t appreciate the non-Aussie accent,” Dr Ayman claims.
“It can be challenging for an overseas doctor to have the sense of belonging with such a stereotype threat,” Dr Ayman explains. “It’s a real issue that needs to be addressed,” he further added.
“People need to realise that overseas trained doctors can be just as competent.
I passed my examinations from the first go and scored among the top 10% in my AMC (Australian Medical Council) exams. That was the result of years of hard work in my country overseas,” Dr Ayman relates with content.
“My performance reports at the hospitals I’ve worked at here in Australia mostly rank me as ‘above expectations’ in most categories,” Dr Ayman tells me.
“People should have more faith in the Australian Health System regardless of the gender, race, ethnic background or social status of a doctor.
Where you come from doesn’t matter. Your performance, competence and dedication to your work does,” he states.
“I hope more people grow to appreciate the contribution overseas trained doctors have made to the Australian Health System. We have covered shortages in times of need, areas of need and specialities of need,” Dr Ayman finally concludes.