Dr Vincent de Beer's Journey: From South Africa to Australia - pursuing a medical career

Taking the leap to move overseas is no small feat, but St John of God Subiaco Hospital takes pride in the commitment to embracing and supporting health care professionals from across the world.

27 Jun 2023

Dr Vincent de Beer folding arms, smiling at camera

With a life-long dream to move to Australia, Dr Vincent de Beer, an ambitious junior doctor from South Africa, bravely embarked on a life-changing journey to relocate from his home country.

Dr de Beer completed his medical training in South Africa, where he underwent a two year internship in Cape Town. Following this internship, he began his compulsory community service obligations, which provided him with valuable experience in a resource-dependent area called Ceres. However, halfway through his community service, he made the bold decision to pursue his dream of working as a doctor in Australia.

From an early age, Dr de Beer had set his sights on a life in Australia, even taking the necessary Australian Medical Council (AMC) examinations while still in South Africa. Juggling his medical duties and exam preparation, Dr de Beer worked tirelessly, often enduring grueling 60 to 80-hour work weeks. Additionally, the challenges of staffing shortages and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic made his experience in Ceres even more demanding.

Dr de Beer encountered further obstacles in his pursuit of traveling to Australia due to the travel restrictions imposed on South Africa during the Omicron variant outbreak. In order to fulfil the necessary accreditation exams for Australia, he had to fly to Mexico, the only country that South Africans were permitted to visit at that time. He made the 20 hour journey only to sit in front of a computer and complete a multiple-choice exam, all within a matter of days. Despite the challenges, he successfully passed the exam in November 2021.

In May of the following year, Dr de beer tackled the second component of the exams, the Australian Medical Council (AMC) Clinical Examination. With COVID-19 still affecting the world, the exam was conducted over Zoom. Determined to optimise his performance, he adjusted his sleep schedule to align with the Australian time zone, even resorting to using an inverter power generator during electricity blackouts, commonly known as load shedding in South Africa, to ensure uninterrupted power supply for the exam. Despite the lack of sleep and the notoriously low pass rate of the AMC Clinical Examination, he was one of the few successful candidates.

Dr de Beer’s professional life in South Africa was challenging and emotionally draining. The scarcity of resources, staff shortages, and the absence of overtime pay exceeding the contracted 240 hours per month made his work in Ceres exceptionally demanding. The dedication and commitment required to navigate such conditions ultimately led him to reassess his career path. A friend who had previously relocated to Australia encouraged him to consider joining St John of God Subiaco Hospital in Perth, Western Australia. Impressed by his friend's positive experience at the hospital and the opportunities Australia presented, he applied for a position.

Despite having resigned from his previous job before securing an interview, Dr de Beer’s confidence and qualifications landed him a position at St John of God Subiaco Hospital. The opportunity to work in a well-resourced and supportive environment, along with the multiculturalism, safety, and career growth prospects offered by Australia, made it a dream come true.

“My passion for medicine stems from a desire to make a difference in people's lives. I cherish the opportunity to educate patients about their conditions, as it can reshape their perspectives on their health and unique situation,” Dr de Beer said.

“I envision a future where advancements in technology, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, will enhance patient care by freeing up doctors' time for more direct interaction and treatment.”

Dr de Beer highlights the stark contrast between the Australian and South African health care systems. The abundance of resources, structured support, and well-trained nursing teams in Australia have enabled him to provide better care for his patients. He no longer battles with a scarcity of basic medical supplies or an overwhelming patient-to-doctor ratio that he did in South Africa. 

“The emphasis placed on patient-centered care and the collaborative approach at this hospital has further enriched my practice and reinforced my commitment to my profession,” Dr de Beer expressed.

Since joining St John of God Subiaco Hospital, Dr de Beer has continued to develop his skills and expertise and appreciates the hospital's commitment to ongoing professional development. 

Beyond his professional achievements, Dr de Beer has also embraced the Australian way of life. The welcoming nature of the people, the diverse culture, and the breathtaking natural landscapes have made Australia feel like home. He values the emphasis on work-life balance across the country, which allows him to pursue his interests outside of medicine, including outdoor activities like hiking.

His journey from South Africa to Australia has been a testament to his determination, resilience, and passion for medicine. Despite the numerous challenges he encountered along the way, Dr de Beer remains committed to providing the best possible care for his patients.

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