Insights on life and work in New Zealand for Cardiothoracic Fellows-
I write this post at the request of my dear friend Dr Yusuke Tsukioka, who had very kind words for me on his blog.I had the privilege and good fortune to work with him as a fellow cardiothoracic registrar at Auckland City Hospital, NZ. He is a surgeon par excellence, a trust worthy, helpful person and above all a good human being. I thank him for his kind words about me and the theme of this post was suggested by him, which I think is very important for overseas guys like us (culturally, constitutionally, psychologically diverse), whose first language is not English.
English and “Kiwish”
If you are the kind of person who are put off by the idea of watching a Hollywood movie on Netflix with subtitles turned off, then you are in for even more tougher times in Kiwi Land. Please don’t be proud of your IELTS listening and speaking scores yet!! Because Kiwi slang is more complex and it will take at least 3 months of “pardon me”s, and “sorry, can you please repeat that”s and lots of blank stares and nods, before which the conversations start to make sense. But don’t be disheartened, Kiwis are very accommodative and nice. They really appreciate if you tell them that you don’t follow what they just told and are kind enough to go about it slower.
The consultants expect the fellows/ registrars to communicate. The more you communicate, better you will be.
I am not fully aware of how Japanese system works, but from my conversations with Yusuke I have understood that it has similarities to Indian system of Cardiothoracic training where the trainees get to do part of the case at least. In NZ/Australia, it is an “all or none phenomenon” with regards to the cases for overseas trainees. This means that if you are given a case either you get to do it skin to skin or you don’t put knife on skin at all. And the surgical chances allotted are consultant dependent also like anywhere else. So better be mentally prepared for long and “frequent” droughts of “no cases” to occasional showers of “hands on”.
The perception of the whole unit towards a particular trainee also is important for someone to be among cases. The quality of non-surgical chores like daily rounds, daily ward meeting presentations, medication and staff management, house officer interaction and impression, nursing staff feedback etc will decide your standing with the seniors like any other unit, but more so here. When you are deputed a case, be safe and if you have the slightest doubt, call for help. This is always perceived as a sign of “being safe”.
Work hours are fixed-40 hour weeks. Weekends are free and over times paid diligently. You will get ample support to develop yourself personally and professionally.
Settling in NZ
This I would say is the easiest part. Don’t have any stress about how you would settle your family here. It is quite easy to find a house/ car/ school etc. Overseas drivers licence is valid for one year and thankfully Japanese, Indians and Kiwis drive on the same side of the road!! Everything happens online and children’s schools are locality based. It is easy to find good quality second hand furniture at cheap rates.
You will be able to find Japanese friends quite easily because NZ is cosmopolitan, sushi/teppanyaki restaurants are easy to find and so are the sake bars! Yusuke would be the best guide on these, I am sure!
Of course the move to NZ is going to give you a bit of cultural shock, but in 3 months time you will fit in nicely and start to enjoy the Kiwi way of life. When you move to NZ, you are going to be in one of the most beautiful places on the planet with clear blue seas, snow capped peaks and lush green meadows. Be sure that you and your loved ones don’t miss what NZ has to offer, that is nature at its virgin best. So take time off, travel and engage in all sorts of adrenaline pumping outdoorsy fun- Bungee, sky dive etc etc. When you board your flight back home, you will leave wiser, content and happier with a whole lot of beautiful memories to always go back to.