I must admit that my main reason initially for going to New Zealand was not for work. I’ve thought for a long time that New Zealand would be an awesome place to visit, so I thought why not work and travel at the same time? This allows you to spend more time in New Zealand and the experiences you get working and living there are so much more rewarding than if you just travel there as a tourist. Obviously, most people will have some trepidation about working in a different country in a foreign medical environment on the other side of the globe but hopefully, as you read my postings, I can allay those fears and convince you to go have the experience of a lifetime.
Let me share with you my typical day, working as a consultant (attending physician) in a New Zealand hospital. The house surgeon (intern) usually comes in at 7:30-8am so rounds usually can start around 8:30-9am. They do not pre-round on all patients and therefore do not know every detail about the patient. As you see the patient, they will have the patient’s chart and will be writing the day’s progress note while in the patient’s room. They will write what you find on exam and what you decide (or what you decide together) is the assessment and plan. Any medication changes will be changed directly on the med chart and any nursing orders will be told to the nurses. There is no ‘ORDERS’ section in the chart like in the U.S. The house surgeon’s progress note counts as your note. You do not need to write a note or even co-sign their note. Sweetness!
Tea time is at 10am and if you are not busy, take tea.
I would usually go see the radiologist or pathologist to review diagnostic data after tea time around 10:30am if needed. We finish off any hospital rounds left during the rest of the morning. Lab results usually aren’t available until about 11am or later. These need to be followed up and appropriate changes to the plan made. This was initially frustrating for me but you get used to it. The afternoon is spent carrying out the plans you made.
There are some differences in the medical staff, medical practice, and patient management between NZ and the US. The majority of stuff is the same whether you work in NZ or the US, it’s just some little differences. Some of the more difficult things I had to adjust to were related more to small town medicine vs. larger city medicine. I was trained in a large city so it took me a bit of time to adjust to small town medicine.
More about my adventures in another post.
Read more about VISTA’s International Opportunities.