In May 2016, Fran Robinson, Recruitment Consultant at HR+, drove Dr Ikechi Gbenimacho 50 kms north of Launceston, to deliver him to George Town Medical Centre.
The journey to practice in Australia had taken eight months for the Nigerian-born doctor since Fran had alerted him to the opportunity on Tasmania’s northern coastline.
Fast forward 7 years: Dr Gbenimacho and his family live and volunteer in the local community and he supports the local hospital. This year he became a partner in the practice and is now qualified to supervise future migrating doctors.
“I have to tell you, we don’t have a single regret coming here. We will be staying,” said Dr Gbenimacho.
06 September 2022
No matter where you are
Rural & Remote Australia
Dr Gbenimacho with Fran Robinson from HR+
It was a warm welcome on a cold and windy day in Launceston when Dr Gbenimacho and his wife arrived from the Carribean to begin his career as an Australian GP. It was also a day of celebration for George Town Medical Centre and for their patients who gained increased access to medical consultations.
George Town, with a population of 7000, has an MMM5 classification (Small Rural Town). Its population is older, with lower average incomes and records a higher incidence of long-term health issues across every reported physical and mental health condition compared to both the Tasmanian and the national averages (2021 Census). The George Town Medical Centre also provides services to the community hospital and aged care facility, so a new doctor was indeed warmly welcomed. Dr Gbenimacho also appreciated joining such a supportive practice.
“Fran (from HR+) was on the ground at the airport when we arrived and took us up to George Town. We were very excited,” said Dr Gbenimacho. “We didn’t feel isolated at all when we came. We were really well supported.”
Internationally qualified health and medical professionals play an important role in delivering primary health services in Australia, particularly in rural and remote areas. Rural Workforce Agencies across the country support recruitment, transition and retention of doctors, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals. RWAs work with both the doctor (or other health professional) and with the recruiting practice to help navigate the processes which variously includes professional recognition and registration, visa applications and relocation.
Making the progression to practice in Australia can be a long and costly process for internationally qualified medical practitioners. In Dr Gbenimacho’s case the journey began in Grenada in 2014 when he began applying for positions. Making and remaining in contact with HR+, Tasmania’s Rural Workforce Agency, helped to smooth the process and resulted in a comparatively rapid turnaround. Fran Robinson, Recruitment Consultant, even drove 200km south to Hobart to meet Dr Gbenimacho and provide support in dealing with AHPRA’s requirements.
“It was a pleasure working with Dr Gbenimacho,” said Ms Robinson. “I found him very organised, very focused and keen to make a positive contribution, and no doubt these qualities contributed to the practice’s decision to offer him a partnership.”
From application to arrival, an International Medical Graduate (IMG) can often expect the process to take up to 18 months. They can become discouraged or overwhelmed by the hoops they have to jump through, and the significant costs involved. The HR+ team provide practical advice and encouragement. They leverage their positive relationships and extensive networks with other providers (AHPRA, RACGP, ACCRM, etc) to support successful outcomes and address challenges. By taking a holistic approach, they are able to look ahead and provide information so that clients can make informed choices and be prepared in advance for the pathway they follow.
The medical practice also has a range of obligations to meet, including meeting supervision requirements, which can be a limiting factor in recruitment. The team at HR+ frequently have to turn IMG candidates away because of a lack of supervision opportunities in rural and remote practices. Recruiters keep in touch and follow up as soon as a match arises, as was the case in 2015 with Dr Gbenimacho and George Town.
To train as a GP, migrating doctors are required to work in priority designated areas for up to 10 years. Rural and remote communities become home for many of these professionals. RWAs proudly support the move into these regions and provide information for partners and family as they also make the social and cultural adjustment.
Both Dr Gbenimacho and his wife are now Australian citizens and their son was born in Tasmania. They volunteer in various community groups and activities in George Town and have become valued members of the community.
“HR+ was very supportive. Fran in particular was very helpful, guiding me through the process, giving me the detail of what was coming, and always being a step ahead of what we needed to do,” said Dr Gbenimacho.
“HR+ was fantastic in helping and guiding me through the Fellowship exams, organising lectures and tutorials. Looking back, those things really helped to shape my success,’ he said.
For more information about the recruitment practices at HR+, visit www.hrplustas.com.au.