A HEAL Experience

Read through some of our past International Medical Graduates' experiences with HEAL.

Dr Gladly Stephen

(MCQ Bridging Course student April to May 2017)
(FEE-HELP Clinical Bridging Course student September to December 2017)

Hello, my name is Gladly Stephen and I am a Year-1 Resident Medical Officer. I was born in Melbourne and lived in Melbourne till Year 8 of High School. When I was in Year 8, my parents decided to migrate back to India and I ended up living there for around 12 years. I ended up studying Medicine in India and I knew that it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

I always wanted to come back to Australia and after my Intern year, I finally decided to come back. A few days after I came back to Melbourne, I started the six week HEAL MCQ class-room based course. The course was so helpful and exam-oriented that I passed the exam four weeks after the course finished.

Soon after that I enrolled in the HEAL Clinical FEE-HELP course. It was a three month course that involved plenty of teaching and role-playing which was very helpful. I passed the AMC Clinical Examination two months after completing the course. Not having to pay for this course upfront was really great as I was not working at the time and we were relying on my husband's income alone to support us. 

After getting the exams out of the way, I began applying for jobs all over Australia and I am now happily a member of the junior medical workforce in Australia.

I am glad to say that I owe this largely to the guidance I received at HEAL. Not only did HEAL help me pass the exams, HEAL also helped in preparing me for work in the busy Australian hospital environment.

I hope my story inspires other International Medical Graduates who would like to become valuable members of the Australian medical workforce.

Thank you once again to the whole team at HEAL for making my dream come true. You are all truly amazing!

Dr Gladly Stephen

Dr Sandhya Venkatswami

(FEE-HELP Clinical Bridging Course student March to June 2017)

I am an International Medical Graduate (IMG) from India. I arrived in Australia completely unaware of the pathways to Australian Medical Council (AMC) registration two years ago. After my MCQ exam I joined the Health Education Australia Limited (HEAL) Clinical course on the insistence of a friend, after much apprehension. But that was my best decision EVER!

Unlike my MCQ exam, for which I had no guidance, the HEAL clinical course plan and the tutors made the preparation for the much-dreaded clinical exam very comfortable. We were allowed to observe Australian doctors working in the hospital setup on many occasions, something we could never have done on our own. It gave us a sense of familiarity with the Australian health system and the actual clinical exam. The value of the regular role‑play practice cannot be emphasised enough.

The highlight of the course was the trial exam at the end of the course which gave us a chance to experience the actual exam and a perspective of where we stood with regards to our preparation.

We met doctors from different countries and cultures, and this was my first step towards a social circle and helped me in understanding Australian multi-cultural diversity and values! My study buddies were from the course and we added to each other’s knowledge and skills.

The regular updates about the pathways, registration standards and job search websites came in handy after the exam. The tutors were very friendly and helpful during the preparation and later during the job hunt, always ready to share their experiences and handy hints.

After the AMC Clinical Examination, I was happy to join them as a tutor and give back something to my fellow IMGs. This and my exposure to the Australian hospital system, helped while applying for jobs and especially during interviews.

When I got my first job offer, I was informed that they were pleased with our exposure to the system and familiarity with the Australian medical practice.

From being a student to teaching at HEAL… this has been one enjoyable journey and an unforgettable one in an unknown land.

I want to say a big THANK YOU, especially to Mr Mark Dare and Ms Colleen Wells for their help and support throughout the course and after too!”

Dr Sandhya Venkatswami

Dr Miguel Dajao

(FEE-HELP Clinical Bridging Course student February 2016)

“I am pleased to share my experience about the HEAL FEE-HELP Clinical Bridging Course. The AMC Clinical Examination is not an easy feat to achieve. It takes time, persistence and a ton of determination to go through the process.

During the course I met new acquaintances and wonderful people whom I could share and enjoy the experience with. HEAL devised a program schedule that would allow sufficient time for fundamental lectures, face-to-face sessions, as well as self-study. We also had weekly rotations (clinical lectures/role playing) under experienced Australian consultants at Austin Health and Monash Health, which were instrumental in gaining confidence and in building the correct patient approach. In addition, the Trial Examination included in the course primed me mentally and emotionally for the actual exam. Indeed, it helped me control my nerves and anxiety. Moreover, a good study partner was very essential and necessary.

Personally, I had a unique experience with my exam as it was not just about the medical knowledge. It was also partly about establishing patient rapport and imparting patient satisfaction after each consultation. Hence, communication classes with Paul were very vital for me to be able to grasp the correct patient approach.

After the course, I went through a number of personal life-changing events that, in a way, triggered a chain of interruptions in my preparations for the exam. Nevertheless, the course and its program helped me recover. I was able to pursue self-study and I eventually passed my examination.

I’d like thank my study partner, Fatma for the quality and fun study moments that we had. I’d like to extend my gratitude to HEAL, particularly Elizabeth, Paul and Mark, and every mentor in the organisation, for making my stay worthwhile.”

Dr Miguel Dajao

Dr Elizabeth Matovu

(FEE-HELP Clinical Bridging Course student April 2016 and current HEAL Tutor)

My name is Dr. Elizabeth Matovu. I migrated to Australia in mid 2011. Immediately, when I got to Australia I embarked on the long and difficult journey of preparing for, and then doing my Australian Medical Council (AMC) exams. It was very difficult for me since I had been working in public health for two years prior to my migration to Australia. I had a huge knowledge gap. I immediatrely realised I needed proper guidance and could not do this on my own, hence my relationship with Health Education Australia Limited (HEAL).

I got to know about HEAL through a good friend I was studying with. She convinced me that it would be a great idea for us to do the HEAL Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) Bridging Course and this would give us a better chance of passing the AMC MCQ Exam and she was right. The thing I loved about the HEAL MCQ Bridging Course was that it was well structured and the tutours were well informed. Imagine having to teach a large part of what is covered in five years of medical school in 14 weeks! The bridging course does that so excellently. The course also encouranged self learning and stimulated thinking, which I am sure will continue to help me as I pursue my medical career in Australia.

I then decided to go it alone in preparation for my clinical exam of which I wasn‘t succesful. I decided to go back to HEAL for guidance and had the opportinity to attend their Fee-Help Clinical Course in 2016. I then sat for my clinical exam later that year, passing with a high score of fourteen out of sixteen! The thing I loved about about the clinical course is that I was able to identify the reasons I failed at my first attempt. Through the course, I was also able to find a suitable study partner, which can be a difficult and frustrating experience in itself for many.

There have been so many added benefits for doing the HEAL bridging courses besides passing my exams. I believe I have become a better clinician, and I now feel I am better placed to adjust to the Australian Medical System. For anyone thinking of doing AMC exams, I highly recommend the HEAL courses. All the best to the doctors out there who have already embarked on this journey.

Dr Elizabeth Matovu

Dr Wissam Ghamrawi

(FEE-HELP Clinical Course February to April 2015)

“A few months ago I had no idea about the AMC clinical exam and after I took the course it took me to a whole different level.

Thanks to all HEAL tutors and managers especially Mark and Monica for helping us nail the exam from the first attempt and after only six weeks from finishing the course. Till now, six of our Sydney HEAL clinical course passed and I am sure there are more to go. Some people told me that [bridging courses] are a waste of time and money but I discovered later that those people didn’t know their targets very well! These courses were not designed for you to learn medicine (You ARE a doctor! Remember?!) rather than to gain a whole bunch of AMC tips and tricks from different people who passed their exams "for sure”! It boosts your confidence while roleplaying in front of a large class and gives you honest commentary on how to improve your performance. Oops! In class you can learn from other people’s mistakes too!

Most importantly, I feel now more confident clinically while speaking to my patients after I developed my inner clock in how to perform effectively and efficiently in a short period of time.”

Dr Wissam Ghamrawi

Dr Sana Qadri

(FEE-HELP Clinical Course February to April 2015)

“My journey with HEAL started in 2015 when I got selected for its clinical bridging course in Sydney – that was when my formal preparation of one of the most-feared exams commenced. We made friends from different backgrounds yet with the same aim of succeeding in our goals directed towards working as a medical doctor in Australia. Those nine weeks are an invaluable experience in terms of studying, enjoying, grooming our skills and living together as a family, consisting of fellows and our very cooperative and knowledgeable teachers. HEAL administration never left us alone and was always responsive to our feedback. I studied with my class fellows after the course and passed the exam in a short time of six weeks. I also, attended the clinical skills short courses by HEAL held in Melbourne in the meantime.

Here I would like to mention that I applied for tutorship with HEAL and was selected to teach O&G to the MCQ course students. That was a wonderful experience. With these remarkable additions in my resume, I got a job offer for the position of Resident Medical Officer in a well-reputed hospital on the day of my result. I was interviewed the next day and was one of the short listed candidates.

I would like to thank the manager Mr Mark Dare for his support and guidance throughout. I wish to continue serving the institute [HEAL] in future and hope for a bright future for its students.”

Dr Sana Qadri

Dr Marina Borisenko

(FEE-HELP Clinical Bridging Course student August–December 2011 and current HEAL Tutor and Clinical Trial Exam Overseer)

“I am an overseas trained doctor from Russia. I've been living in Australia for the past 10 years and recently started working as a General Practitioner (GP).

It was a long journey for me before I became a doctor in Australia.

At first I started working as a carer in a hospice for children with life-threatening diseases while I was preparing for my first AMC MCQ Examination. I didn't know about the VMPF (now HEAL) courses and it took me a few years to prepare for the exam.

Once I passed my AMC MCQ Examination, I started preparing for the AMC Clinical Examination and I was lucky enough to get a placement on a VMPF course. Not only was I a student but I was also a group representative on one of the VMPF FEE-HELP Clinical Bridging Courses a few years ago. I also tried to stay as close to medicine as possible and spent a few years working in a GP practice – still not as a doctor though.

The FEE-HELP course gave me enormous support in preparations for my clinical exam. As soon I passed the AMC Clinical Examination I started working at HEAL as a tutor trying to help others. I would fly to Melbourne from Sydney to deliver my MCQ tutorials as at that time the courses were only held in Melbourne and I lived in Sydney.

Due to growing demands, HEAL was able to open courses in Sydney and I was one of the tutors there as well.

As you can see I was not working as a doctor but I had four observerships in three different states trying to get a job and exposure to the Australian hospital system. I got my first job as a doctor after my 4th observership at Austin Health. I had been working at Austin Health for about two years before moving to the GP pathway a few months ago as I always wanted to be a GP.

I still work as a tutor as I love it a lot and it helps me to keep my medical knowledge up to date.

I want to say a big THANK YOU HEAL for the help and support to so many IMGs – including myself!”

Dr Marina Borisenko