Elise Coker – New South Wales

Elise Coker – New South Wales

Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. My chest is tight and my breathing shallow as I await any communication from HETI. Yet this email account does not belong to me. I am signed into my fiancés account, awaiting an email which will affect not only him, but also my country, my career and inevitably determine where I end up.

I was born in Australia and went to medical school in Australia and am now working as an intern in an Australian hospital. How did things become so complex? I am engaged to a Canadian medical student.

Nick and I met in his first year of medical school whilst enjoying a meal of Korean BBQ. Four years together in Sydney and we’ve made a home together with an apartment of self-refurbished furniture, potted herbs and our much loved pooch called Poncho. We spend our weekend eagerly planning for our wedding which is booked for early next year at the northern beaches.

I’ve spent this year working as a doctor in Westmead Hospital, and share my joys and dramas of my work with my best friend and future husband. Nick is also eager to devote himself to working within the Australian healthcare system, a system he has been educated within for the last four years. He has grown to love this country, and understand and appreciate the wonderful healthcare facilities and patient population which are present here.

With the desire to work within an Australian hospital, an Australian fiancé and an appreciation of Australian culture and landscape, why would Nick think of applying anywhere else? Well, perhaps I am to blame for him not applying elsewhere to work. I assured him “you’ll be fine,” “don’t worry about it” and “of course you’ll get a job here?” I guess sometimes I’m “too Australian,” and a little “too carefree.”

I never thought that Australian politicians would fail to fund so many prospective doctors. That they would not provide short term funding for long term gain. In a country with a shortfall or doctors, and a healthcare system that is continually importing doctors to fulfil demands, it seems unjustifiable that we shouldn’t attempt to build our own workforce.

This situation has been trying, tearful and just plain tough. I have never left this country for longer than three months. Will I move to be with the person I love? Of course. But I understand that by doing so I leave behind my family, friends, culture, and my country… my country that would be two doctors less in an already struggling healthcare system.

Elise’s fiancee is still waiting to hear if he will get an internship. If you want to help them, 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
  • A/Prof Henry Woo

    It is bad enough that we prepared to lose Australian trained doctors to overseas whilst at the same time importing overseas trained doctors, but to lose Australian born, bred and trained medical graduates would be hugely disappointing. We certainly hope to not lose Elise and Nick.

  • Ian Parker

    As Nick’s father and Elise’s future father-in-law I am both touched and angered by this letter. The parents of foreign students, and I speak specifically about Canadians, have made a serious contribution to both the University of Sydney Medical School and to the broader Australian health care system. Foreign students were recruited through job fairs and other inducements by the University which I assume is funded by both federal and state governments. Do governments/politicians then not have a moral imperative here? Foreign students are supporting the system. Do they not deserve support in return?

    Ian Parker

    • http://www.facebook.com/nickwhp Nicholas Parker

      I prefer to think of that support as reciprocal – while we would be employed by the tax-payer, and would obviously benefit personally from having a job and a future, it is the support we will provide to the Australian health-care system that is a more fundamental issue. What we may deserve notwithstanding, Australia deserves the invaluable service that we will provide even more. Internships are not sinecures, and they are by no means intended to only benefit the intern. Interns fulfill a crucial role in the hospital system, with their own training as a by-product, albeit one essential for the future of the system. It is a symbiotic relationship, one vital to the survival of both parties.

  • Dr A

    I’m in a situation just like you! I’m working as in intern this year in a major tertiary hospital but my partner is a final year and currently jobless. If she doesn’t get a spot in Australia, then it looks like I’ll have to leave too. Singapore seems to be accepting anyone and everyone so I guess thats a likely destination for us both. :(

  • Dr S

    Why doesn’t Nick and Elise get married and arrange for his Australian permanent residency first? Then once it is approved, he will be considered a “local” graduate, won’t it??

    • http://www.facebook.com/nickwhp Nicholas Parker

      Dear Dr S,

      That is a good question. As a matter of fact, I am in the process of applying for permanent residency as Elise and I are already married in a ‘de facto’, or common-law sense. Despite this, the immigration process is slow and expensive, and HETI’s policy is to only consider the residency status of the applicant at the time of application – they do not consider changes in circumstance, at least not during a given intern match year.

      Although I will one day probably be eligible for a more advantageous “priority group”, there are many students graduating now that are no less committed to Australia, even if the roots they’ve laid down are not yet formalised. Also, the way things are going, it may soon not matter what a graduate’s citizenship status is – very soon the jobs of Australian born graduates will be in jeopardy. We are already seeing, in some States, residents not being offered jobs.

      Thank you for reading,

    • Steph

      I am in the same situation. There is a significant delay to obtain the partner visa. The average processing time for the temporary partner visa is around 15 months. And then 2 years after the application I will only be eligible to apply for the permanent visa, not including the processing time. By that time, if things don’t change, even local full fee paying may not be guaranteed jobs.

  • Leana

    Best of luck to both of you. My husband and I are both from Ottawa and he has spent the last four years studying medicine in QLD. We too had many weeks of tension and e-mail checking, until finally a position came through from Adelaide. The trend has clearly been for international students to opt to stay and work in Australia and it’s appalling that some newly graduated doctors will be forced to leave because of the job prospects. Not enough is being done!! I have my fingers crossed for your fiance.