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'Determination and persistence': Here's how this Pakistani doctor became an Australian GP

Source: Dr Zia facebook

Many professional doctors migrate to Australia with high hopes but for various reasons and changes of circumstances, they switch to another field. A series of professional exams, accreditations, and panel interviews are some of the phases Dr Zia Hussain went through before he became eligible to practise in Australia as a GP.

Overseas-trained medical graduates need to go through a rigorous professional recognition process in Australia.


  • Many overseas professionals including doctors switch fields after migrating to Australia
  • The Australian Medical Review centre guides overseas medical professionals with the process
  • A Pakistani doctor who went through the entire process summarizes the journey in two words, "determination and persistence"

Dr Syed Zia Hussain's journey began in Pakistan where he was providing online medical advice to patients in the US and Europe.

He decided to appear for the Australian Medical multiple-choice online exam. The exam was offered in limited countries. Dr Zia tried to come to Australia for this exam but after the refusal of his Australian visa application twice, he went to Thailand and took the exam in Bangkok.

Sharing an interesting instance about the exam result, he told SBS Urdu that his name did not appear under successful candidates listing and he was very disheartened.  He said that the total number of successful candidates was higher than the total names of successful candidates.

"I logged in and found a note that due to non-payment of an increase in fees since I first applied, my result was withheld then I immediately paid the additional fee only to find out that I had passed the exam", he said.

AMC exam, IELTS, and interview are pre-requisite before Dr can find an Australian sponsor, and only then can get the sponsored work Visa.  

Dr Zia treats a patient in his consult room at iFamily Medical Centre in Rooty Hill.
Dr Zia treats a patient in his consult room at iFamily Medical Centre in Rooty Hill.
SBS News

After the AMC 1 exam result, he also achieved 7 points in each section of the IELTS exam, and the next phase was a job interview in Australia.  However, he did not have an Australian visa and instead appeared by video interview for a position at a medical centre in Sydney.

Pre-employment structured clinical interview (PESCI) can only be conducted by an independent doctor arranged by Australian medical assessment authorities and Dr Zia had to pay the video conferencing fees for both ends. He says that this was in addition to many other expenses such as exam/Interview preparation cost etc. 

The success rate of this interview-based 90 minutes exam is 30-40 % and fortunately, I passed it

Dr Zia got the job and the visa but now had to start from scratch in Australia. He got an L (Learner) practitioner license despite the fact that he was a medical specialist in Pakistan.

After approximately four years of L practice, he was eligible to sit the specialist general practitioner exam.  He passed and is currently serving a diversified community at a medical centre in the suburb of Rooty Hills in western Sydney.

He acknowledges that achieving this goal was not easy and there are challenges to test the "nerves" and "pocket" equally.

All those overseas medical practitioners who are willing to practice in Australia should remember two words - determination and persistence.

There are professional medical regulatory bodies in Australia that are responsible for assessments and registrations. Overseas practitioners and graduates can get further information from them directly.

The AMC Clinical Examination assesses clinical skills in medicine, surgery, obstetrics, gynecology, pediatrics, and psychiatry. It also assesses the ability to communicate with patients, their families, and other health workers.

International medical graduates (IMGs) applying for limited registration or provisional registration may be required to undergo a pre-employment structured clinical interview (PESCI).

The medical board of Australia (MBA) does not only register medical practitioners and medical students but also assesses international medical graduates and approves accreditation standards

The Australian Medical Review Center (AMRC) provides guidance about the process and prepares candidates for the professional Exams

Australian Medical Council (AMC) is an independent national standard body for medical education, training, and assessment in ANZ.

How to become a GP in Australia
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