Peter Oyeshola Oyewopo is an African-Australian migrant medical doctor working in Western Australia. He has been living and practising medicine in Australia for fourteen years, having relocated from South Africa, where he worked from 1997 to 2001. Originally from Nigeria, West Africa, he and his family now call Australia home. Dr Shola tells us about his journey to Australia, his experience as a General Practitioner (GP), and how he is giving back to the community by mentoring new overseas trained medical doctors.
Why did you decide to come to Australia?
I emigrated from South Africa to Australia in June 2001. My original plan was to move to the United States for my medical specialist training. However, I fell in love with Australia after watching the Sydney 2000 Olympics, and by a stroke of fate, a few colleagues who had migrated to Australia after the Olympics were very impressed and spoke glowingly about their newly adopted country. I did not need more convincing after that.
I wanted to settle in a country where human rights and freedoms were respected, have the opportunity to fulfill my potential as an individual, and realise my dream of starting a family. Fortunately, Australia ticked all the boxes for me and I certainly cannot be happier with my decision to settle in this great country.
What are the challenges one will face when starting a medical centre business in Australia?
1. Finance: access to bank fund finance is of paramount importance as you cannot get started without adequate funds. Also, it might take a while to break even; hence you need to have some reserve funds for the “growing pains”.
2. Recruitment issues: having a great team of staff makes a huge difference to a work place so it is highly important to choose carefully. Due diligence should be undertaken and reference checks undertaken properly.
3. Location of the practice is of utmost importance.
4. Statutory requirements: seek to understand Medicare, taxation obligations, work choices/employment conditions, as this will stand you in good stead in the long run.
5. Deciding whether to buy an existing prac
tice or starting a completely new practice could be a challenge.
From your experience, what are the five mistakes most entrepreneurs make?
1. Not doing their due diligence with regard to having a business plan, and not having an understanding of the huge demands of running a business.
2. Finance issues: not securing enough funds to start and run the business.
3. Lack of mentoring/networking to learn from the experiences of others.
4. Poor work/life balance to prevent stress and burnout.
5. Complacency: not investing in both self/professional and business development
What do you see as the main challenges discouraging migrants being entrepreneurs, and what is your advice to them?
1. Getting finance for their business ideas.
2. Navigating through red tape: governmental agencies, local council/shire regulations.
3. Lack of self-belief/confidence (fear of failure). My advice, never give up. As the late Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser once quoted, “life wasn’t meant to be easy”.
Is there on essential tip that you would give to someone considering being a GP?
Be prepared for a long career of hard work but very rewarding all the same.
How does one get registered in Australia as a GP?
This will depend on the experience of the international medical graduate (IMG). An IMG will need to have passed a minimum of part one of the Australian Medical Council (AMC) examination before registration could be considered. Exceptions to this rule are holders of the fellowship equivalent from the UK or Ireland who may apply for reciprocal specialist recognition in order to commence work as a GP. For all other IMG’s, success in the AMC is followed by an interview process (PESCI) by the respective state medical board. Registration is subsequently granted if the successful IMG is able to secure employment/sponsorship for a skilled migrant visa by a medical practice.
Is there any association for migrant general practitioners in Perth? What are they doing to support new migrant doctors to integrate into the system?
Yes, there is an association called the Genesis Forum Inc. It was established in November 2011 as a forum for interested migrant doctors (GPs and hospital based doctors), to exchange ideas amongst ourselves, be it clinical or administrative. We meet once every two months.