Eileen Phuah – New South Wales

Eileen Phuah – New South Wales

Hello everyone :) My name is Eileen and I am awaiting graduation from the University of New South Wales. I decided to share my story to support my international and local medical friends who have been faithfully campaigning for us.

My journey to Australia began 7 years ago, as part of ‘fulfilling the childhood dream of pursuing medicine.’ The twist was that I ended up in Australia, instead of the UK. Although I was initially upset, this has been the best mistake that ever happened. The last decade has been an education, not only confined to the books and university. I travelled, explored, made mistakes, learnt, experienced, laughed, cried, and most importantly lived (okay, I am still living, but you get what I mean). These years have been the foundation that shaped me to be what I am today and I have this country to be thankful for as it was in Australia that I spent my teenage years and early adulthood.

There are many reasons why one would consider Australia home. The weather, the beaches, the food, the people, the culture, the healthcare system, the sports, the tourist attractions, the facilities and to some, their significant others are just a few of the examples. Although I may not see my entire future in Australia (the world is such a big place and I am aiming to cover as much of it as I can), I foresee spending a significant amount of my life here. This will however only be possible if an internship spot is granted. Without the internship, the 6 years of medical degree equals to nothing. I cannot work, I cannot practice, I cannot prescribe, I am pretty much useless to the healthcare system as I cannot be registered with any medical board without the requirement of an internship. If the non-sensical suggestion that I should pay for my internship is made, it is then only fair that the internship should be made as part of the final year of medical school. It is ridiculous for me to pay to work when I have already invested so much time, money and effort for my degree.

I recall June to be a hectic month as I was forced to apply to EVERY single state and country that could possibly accept me. Although Plan B is confirmed, Plan A seems so distant and I know that this is NOT MY FAULT but rather, a failing system that I am dealing with. It was quite demotivating when my local friends knew where they were posted to prior to the finals, while I had to study, not knowing where I will be in the next three months. It is awkward on the wards when I am forced to answer that ‘I am international and I am jobless for next year’ (and following this, either a comforting response, or awkward silence – I am so used to this by now and I have to say that I hate it). At this point, I am unsure if I should pack and leave, or wait (and even so, until when?), or renew my mobile phone plan, internet contract and house lease and what not. Should I start saying farewell to all the people that I have grown to love here? Should I start closing my bank account? Should I start selling my furniture and my car? Should I book a flight ticket to elsewhere? Where do I go from here? Everything is so uncertain. Yes, I am excited that I am graduating but I am also faced with a huge dilemma of the unknown with my future at stake.

I cannot see the logic of the country still employing hundreds of new oversea medical graduates every year (which has by the way, become a money-making industry, just like how international students are charged with exorbitant fees), while turning their back against their own international medical graduates who are suited for the Australian population, her culture and the healthcare system. I use to think that only certain countries are that silly to allow ‘brain drain’ to occur. I am starting to wonder if Australia fits into one of these.

The main issue aside, I am interested in obstetrics and gynaecology, general practice, emergency medicine and psychiatry. I foresee myself being part of humanitarian organisations such as Medicine Without Borders if I choose to continue with medicine. Life is too short and there are many other things that I would like to pursue, outside of medicine, should the opportunities arise.

Apart from studies, I enjoy horse riding (something I picked-up while living here), diving, photography, travelling (I have covered 30 countries so far and I am aiming for more), cooking, reading and just hanging out with my friends.

I really hope that the internship crisis can be solved soon, not only for 2013 but the next few years to come.

And truly, a big thanks to those who have been campaigning hard and working round the clock to solve this issue.

Eileen is still waiting to hear if she will get an internship. If you want to help her, please support the #interncrisis campaign.Take Action

This post was written by
Medical Student Action on Training (MSAT) is a grassroots movement by Medical Students Australia wide who have united to raise awareness and demand political action be taken to solve the #interncrisis