Dr Ralph Reeves-Saunders
MB.BS (Lond), DRCOG (UK), FACRRM, B.Sc (Sussex), Ph.D (ANU)
Practice Principal, Sarina Family Practice, Sarina, QLD
“I have owned and worked in a rural General Practice for over 30 years and the backbone of my GP team has been made up of overseas trained Doctors. I have had many wonderful experiences working with these Doctors and highly recommend it as a financially viable workforce for practices that struggle to recruit Australian trained GPs.
I strongly believe, like any staff member, the key to success is team work and appropriate supervision. From the beginning, your Doctor needs to know they have the full support of their supervisor and the wider team and can come to them at any time with queries. I also believe the better you orient them to your Practice and the Australian way of medicine the better start they will have. The more time you invest in the beginning, the less time you will need to invest down the road. Don’t forget these Doctors have been working in their own country for many years as GPs, they simply need to learn the Australian processes and systems.
There is great loyalty with someone who has been given their chance to work and provide for their family in a country like ours. In my experience the GPs will stay with your Practice until they achieve Fellowship and quite often beyond as they and their family have built a life around your Practice and your community.
Once the GP is accustomed to the Australian system they will operate at the same level as any other GP. There is no reason your Limited Doctor won’t soon be seeing a full patient load and, if you invest the time into teaching them about the systems for Medicare’s higher earning item numbers, such as chronic disease management, they will certainly make their presence financially beneficial.
Ultimately, like everything in life, you will reap what you sow. If you put the effort and time into your GPs they will bring prosperity to your Practice. It is a wonderful feeling to watch a Doctor in their first role in Australia as their confidence grows and I can honestly say some of the GPs who have started with us as Limited Doctors are some of the best GPs I have known and I often seek their advice for my own complex patients. I have found working with overseas trained GPs an extremely rewarding experience that has enriched our Practice both culturally and financially”.
Dr Reeves-Saunders is a Fellow of The Australian College Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and a Senior Lecturer at James Cook University Medical School. He has supervised 12 International Medical Graduates to the Fellowship of either the RACGP or ACRRM. In 2013, Dr Reeves-Saunders was awarded the Distinguished Service Award of The Australian College Rural and Remote Medicine.