When Egyptian doctor Neamat Ibrahim considered training as a general practitioner there was one thing that put her off – the compulsory six months in the country.
She worried she and her family would be made to feel different, far away from people of the same culture and background.
The multi-lingual mother of three this week will start work in her own practice at Wellington, which has become home.
“I’ve surprised myself and proven something to myself,” she said.
“If I do feel different it’s not a negative thing.
“I’ve found people who I wouldn’t normally be friends with and a community that is friendly, inviting and supportive.”
Although Dr Ibrahim was a clinical toxicologist in Egypt before she arrived in 1993, she didn’t begin working until 1996 after sitting the Australian medical examinations.
After doing stints in other fields in Sydney’s major hospitals, she bit the bullet and entered general practice training.
“I came out here for my compulsory six months in early 2003,” she said.
“Six months become a year and then a year become two.
“I never expected to love it but I do – you feel special, appreciated out here, not one in a million.”
Dr Ibrahim said her family had settled in too: “They like the life of Wellington – it’s a good place to raise kids and you’re more involved in each others lives because you know the same people.”
She was the only person enrolled in a GP training program in Sydney who had come to the country and defected, she said.
“They were amazed I stayed on – initially they were worried I wouldn’t even commit to the six months,” she laughed.
“I didn’t know I would either so I’ve proven something to them and me.”
Dr Ibrahim has just been made a fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners after graduating in the top five from a class of 400 doctors. “I’ve got through and passed so now I’m fully qualified and ready to go.”
She said she was very grateful to Wellington Council for providing her with premises to work from and looked forward to serving the Wellington community.
“The council has been very kind to me in helping me get established,” she said.
“I think they were appreciative to have another doctor, someone who has been here for a while and has developed relationships with people in the community – and to have a female doctor.”
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