Locums for a Small World Blog

What's it like practicing medicine in New Zealand? Hear from three doctors about their New Zealand adventures.

Posted by Everett Fitch

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Planning a locum tenens assignment in New Zealand takes time. But it’s worth it. Consider the scenery alone, c'mon! But that's not the only great thing about practicing medicine in the Land of the Long White Cloud, no. Practicing in this island country affords you a world of experience. You'll be able to see how doctors here deliver care, how their unique culture has shaped their healthcare system and best of all you'll be able to focus purely on patient care with little to no paperwork or administrative duties involved.

Fortunately, too, your physician placement specialist will carry most of the weight throughout your placement process – with the end result being the best match possible between you and the medical facility in need. In other words they'll help you every step of the way in obtaining the New Zealand assignment you desire.

Now there is some effort on both parties involved to gather all the necessary licensing and registration but if you've got the drive and the credentials then there's nothing stopping you from setting foot on this magical island. Keep in mind the whole process will take about three months once a job has been offered. But as long as you are U.S. board certified, or the equivalent in a comparable country and hold an active license, you are eligible for temporary registration.

Don't just listen to us go on about all the fine details. Hear from some doctors – with a variety of backgrounds – who have worked in New Zealand already. Their stories, rich in detail, will hopefully enlighten you. You'll discover not only what it's like to live in a stunning country but also what it's like to be on locum tenens assignment here. What's it like practicing medicine in New Zealand, you ask? Our doctors will tell you.

Mark Dell’Aglio, MD

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On acclimating to the Kiwi way of life:

When you're in another country you take notice of the uniqueness that surrounds you—the noises, the sights, the smells are all brand new. For Mark Dell'Aglio, M.D. and his wife Trinj, a locum tenens assignment in New Zealand meant an opportunity to turn the unfamiliar into an adventure. “It's interesting to watch us learning outside of ourselves...learning the Kiwi way of life,” says Dr. Dell'Aglio. When you visit a foreign country – even if they share your native language – you find yourself learning colloquialisms, customs, and cultural caveats that aren't familiar. Everything from setting up a new home to making new friends is an entirely different experience in a foreign country. But it’s a welcome experience.

On practicing medicine in New Zealand:

“There's very little hierarchy here,” says Dr. Dell’Aglio. “First names are used among everybody, from the students to the doctors. You get to focus on pressing issues without dealing with all the games insurance companies sometimes make doctors play. Quite simply New Zealand medicine is different from the States; the Kiwis are more relaxed – much more patient. They are a 'live-and-let-live' type of people. It's tremendously refreshing...impatience seems to be indoctrinated in [Americans] at a young age...That's not as strong here. Here, there is no whirlwind, more like a soft, gentle breeze.”

Benjamin Ross, MD

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On adapting to the New Zealand healthcare system:


"At first glance their system seems different...but ultimately, the outcomes are similar at about 1/3 the cost of the U.S. system," says Dr. Ross. And the Kiwi way of doing things in the hospital wasn't hard for Dr. Ross, either – he immediately felt a sense of camaraderie with the other General Practitioners; in fact, he says he developed great relationships with all the staff.

On freedom and travel in New Zealand after residency in the U.S.:

Dr. Ross’s work schedule gave him the freedom to travel, tramp and traverse all across New Zealand. “It's hard not to be comfortable working a schedule with no nights or weekends so soon after residency,” says Dr. Ross, “We had plenty of time to explore the North Island and quite a bit of the South Island, too.”

On days off Dr. Ross – and his wife, Stephanie – took to the road, everywhere from Cape Reinga at the top of the North Island to Bluff at the tip of the South Island and everywhere between. The road trips, Dr. Ross explains, were alive with “rolling green hills, winding roads and stretches of shape shifting shores.” On a drive to Wellington – for a Rugby World Cup match between the U.S. and Australia – they stopped overnight in Taupo, a town in the center of the North Island, and awoke the next morning to the crystal-clear waters of the town’s eponymous lake “it was so clear I could hardly believe it!” Stephanie recalls.

Jen Corliss, MD

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On learning the local slang:

The lay of the land was easy on the eyes but the Kiwi slang was hard on the American tongue. “I had trouble understanding some New Zealand phrases when I started,” Dr. Corliss recounts, “so I'd find a nurse to translate and by the end, I even caught myself using some of the slang.” Soon enough, she was ‘sweet-as’, popping ‘round cafes for a cuppa.’

On her daily routine in New Zealand:

“My daily routine had me waking up to the bright New Zealand sun every day. I rode my bike to work past the goldmine through brilliant green fields and was greeted at work by my friendly coworkers. I saw patients during my four-day-a-week schedule and was impressed by the gratitude they showed for the care they received. I always finished by 5pm, so I had time to run to the beach or play a game of netball with friends.”

Well, that’s about it. Any additional questions you may have can be answered in this white paper appropriately called “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Taking a Locum Tenens Assignment in New Zealand.” And if you've still got questions after reading that then go ahead and finish reading these doctors’ stories.

Still have questions after that? You know what to do: fill out this quick information request form and we’ll be in touch. Practicing medicine in New Zealand isn't just a faraway dream; it's a reality that can happen for you. Feel free to view our current international locum tenens opportunities with the click of a button below.

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Topics: New Zealand, Land of the Long White Cloud, Mark Dell'Aglio, MD, Benjamin Ross, MD, Jen Corliss, MD, New Zealand healthcare

4 of our favorite family-friendly experiences in the Land of the Long White Cloud

Posted by Everett Fitch

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New Zealand is a country unlike any other. Once you step foot here you won’t believe the wonders that exist in both city and countryside. Sounds an awful lot like an overpromise, doesn’t it? We assure you that it’s not. Everyone who visits say they love it for its friendliness, its community, its nature, its landscape, everything.

Okay, maybe not everyone. We shouldn’t speak in absolutes. There have probably been a few people over the years who have visited the Land of the Long White Cloud and weren’t that impressed. We’d venture to guess it’s because they’re not fans of waterfall-and-peak-filled fjords, lakes roughly the size of Singapore, coastline complete with geothermal pools, tussock farmland with big skies, glaciers, volcanoes, rainforests and geysers. You know, the kind of countryside you’d do anything for as a kid, just to play and frolic and lose yourself in fresh air.

That’s exactly our point. New Zealand is an ideal family-friendly destination. In fact it ranks 1st on the Legatum Prosperity Index: an annual ranking developed by the Legatum Institute, which essentially measures how prosperous a nation is through factors like economic quality, business environment, governance, education, health, safety and security, personal freedom, social capital and natural environment. You can discover more about their methodology as well as their findings concerning New Zealand right here.

The real important takeaway is that this island-country is rich not only in landscape but also in just about everything else. You should feel compelled to explore its greatness with your whole family. If you find yourself in New Zealand on locum tenens assignment already, here are some unforgettable experiences you’ll want to consider.

Experiencing Franz Josef Glacier – South Island

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Clothed by the Southern Alps, Franz Josef Glacier is a marvel. Cacophonous colors shade the horizon. Light blues you’ve never met before rush toward you. Dark greens you won’t recognize slip into your field of vision. Nonetheless, the sight is welcoming.

Start in town, Franz Josef, where you can frequent quaint cafes and shops while the Southern Alps tower over you. This is where you’ll want to book your adventures, too. You can choose anything from a guided walk to a scenic flight. If you’d like to overnight it, there are a variety of hotels, motels, lodges, bed and breakfasts, plus holiday parks. And believe it or not, a lot of the places where you can stay are enshrouded by rainforest.

Stargazing at Lake Tekapo – South Island

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The southern lights in all its vibrant beauty can be seen from Lake Tekapo’s shores. Wait a minute, the southern lights? Yes, the northern lights has a sibling existing at the exact other side of the world, the Southern Hemisphere. And if you head to Lake Tekapo during winter you’ll experience an amazing show. Unfortunately this happens during July and August for New Zealand (that's when their winter occurs) so you'll have to wait a bit to see the southern lights.

No worries. You can still catch some killer stargazing with your family. Head to Mount John Observatory on an Earth & Sky tour where you can witness some of the darkest skies in the world, perfect for viewing the Milky Way.

Taking a cruise in Milford Sound – South Island

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Milford Sound is without a doubt one of the hallmark stops on any South Island tour. Famous novelist Rudyard Kipling (author of The Jungle Book) once called this glacier-carved fjord “the eighth wonder of the world.” High praise, but suitably so.

Waterfalls pour out of forested, tall-reaching peaks. Hiking trails abound so you’re more than apt to find an agreeable view of Milford’s magnificence. And there’s ample accommodation so if you plan to stay for a few days, you're solid (though, do book in advance because places tend to fill up).

Truthfully, boat cruises are the way to go. You’ll encounter much more of the unimaginable this way. There will be coves filled with marine life and even waterfalls that you can experience up close. Plus some boats are even equipped with underwater viewing observatories so you can witness all the life blooming beneath the surface.

Going the museum route in Wellington – North Island

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So far we’ve mentioned only experiences showcasing the raw beauty of New Zealand. We’d like to take a moment to highlight the culture and arts that’s abundant in this country, too.

There’s no better place to enlighten you and your family than in Wellington. This cultural hotspot has a lot going for it. Like Te Papa Tongarewa, a national museum where the continued focus is preserving the history, language and lore of New Zealand’s people through exhibitions and education. Six stories of rich artwork, both past and present fill these walls. Another huge plus? Aside from being architecturally stunning this museum sits right on the waterfront so you’re bound to experience some spectacular views.

Not quite as large but equally as important is the Museum of Wellington City and Sea that’s housed in a heritage building on, you guessed it, another immaculate waterfront. Take in the views outside then head inside for a taste of Wellington’s cultural history. This museum is dedicated fully to Wellington complete with interactive exhibitions. Check out the exhibit, A Millennium Ago, that highlights Maori legends using holographic effects.

Well, that’s it. While there’s a ton of other family-friendly experiences in New Zealand, they’d be too numerous to list in one blog. Discover what locum tenens opportunities are available in the Land of the Long White Cloud with the click of an orange button below then start planning your scenicand educationalfamily-friendly adventures right away. (Oh, and if you'd like to learn more about Maori culture before you embark, then click here).

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Topics: Wellington, Franz Josef, New Zealand, Milford Sound, Land of the Long White Cloud, Museum of Wellington City and Sea, Legatum Prosperity Index, Franz Josef Glacier, Lake Tekapo, Mount John Observatory, Te Papa Tongarewa, family-friendly experiences in New Zealand

Spring is coming: Catch these 6 can't-miss locum tenens experiences in New Zealand

Posted by Everett Fitch

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August tends to be steeped in nostalgia. Maybe it’s the way the sun shines. Maybe it’s summer’s end itself. Or maybe it’s just mostly a time for recollection. Heavy, wonderful memories begin to move in. Life is more closely examined. We’ve lost the speed of summer.

Not so in New Zealand, they are in the Southern Hemisphere after all. They’re gaining excitement and sunlight as spring rapidly approaches. It’s not too hot, not too cold (in most places anyway). In fact, it’s just the right time of year for most activities.

Have you ever wanted to take a locum tenens assignment in New Zealand? We’d say now’s the best time to finally consider taking the plunge. Spring is marvelous in the Land of the Long White Cloud. And here are some of the most marvelous sights and experiences.

1) Okarito Lagoon

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Even if you grew up in the shadow of a mighty mountain range, next to a sparkling, raging river, you’ve never experienced anything quite like Okarito Lagoon. Some would paint this region with the very same words. Granted, you’ve got the Southern Alps towering furiously as they do not far off. And the Okarito river delta itself sparkles and rages. Still this place has an energy all its own.

Located not far from Franz Josef Glacier (about 20 minutes away), you can book a kayak tour and gain unheard-of views of Mount Cook and the Southern Alps from New Zealand’s largest unmodified wetland. If you’re a birder, you’ll be in heaven. Over 70 species of birds call Okarito home.

2) Whanganui

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We know what you’re thinking: How do you pronounce Whanganui and what does it mean? Here’s how you pronounce it. And it means 'big harbor' in Maori. Now let’s dive into what makes this city so great.

Just a couple hours’ drive from Wellington, this town holds a lot of adventure – both in its city life and its outdoors life. You can stay in the city center and explore all kinds of neat places like the Whanganui Opera House or the Sarjeant Art Gallery or even the country’s only Glass School.

We recommend going to the outskirts and dipping your toes into some real outdoor adventure. If you’re a mountain biker, take the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail. If you’re a kayaker, take the Whanganui River Journey. (You can go by canoe, too.)

3) Golden Bay

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Now we’d like to start off introducing Golden Bay by saying it’s for nature lovers but we could honestly say that about any town, sight or experience we have listed here. In fact, we could say that about most places in New Zealand.

If you’re in Nelson, take the roads to get to Golden Bay. You’ll drive over Takaka Hill (AKA ‘marble mountain’ because it’s made of marble). On the way, don’t miss out on cooling off in Ngarua Caves. You can witness a skeletal display of the extinct moa here. Stop off in Te Waikoropupu Springs, too. This gushing water is sacred to the Maori. It’s also known for having the clearest spring water in the world.

Once the views open up of Golden Bay you’ll be truly astounded. It’s a massive sandy bay with huge rocks jutting up out of the sea here and there. Bit of advice while you’re here: try the scallops.

For all you fishing enthusiasts, hit up Wildcat Charters in town. They’ll take you in and around Golden Bay for a unique fishing experience. They’ll supply you with bait, fishing gear, tea, coffee and a light snack, too. Some fish you might be able to catch: snapper, blue cod, gurnard, kahawai, perch and tarakihi.

4) Hamilton-Waikato

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The Hamilton-Waikato region is about a two hours’ drive south from Auckland. Trust us, take the drive. You’ll want to come visit rolling-green-hill places like Matamata where the Hobbiton Movie Set can be found, or black-sand beaches with endless crashing waves and panoramic views like Raglan (notoriously known to surfers the world over).

We’ve talked about the Waitomo Caves in the past. But we’ll say it again: Go visit. Glowworms have taken over the cave’s ceiling and light it up so brilliantly that you'll be hypnotized.

After a morning at Waitomo, spend an afternoon at Kawhia’s hot water beach. Bring a shovel so you can dig your very own hot springs bath while the rest of your family plays on the beach.

5) Kaikoura

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If you’re looking for the best whale watching in the country then you’re going to want to travel to Kaikoura. You can whale watch from the rails of a catamaran or kayak next to seals off the coast.

Be sure to book a tour with Whale Watch. It’s unforgettable. You’ll board one of their catamarans and instantly be taken into a world unseen by most. Marine encounters definitely vary but some of the year-round residents include sperm whales, fur seals and dusky dolphins. Depending on the time of year, too, you may come across humpbacks, pilot whales, blue whales, or southern right whales.

6) Milford Road

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New Zealand has some of the most spectacular scenery in the entire world, no doubt about it. And Fiordland National Park is no exception. You can hike and bike in the park or you can charter a cruise on the magnificent waters. This time around we say go by road. Magical, misty mountains will be your guide.

From Te Anau to Milford Sound you’ll be awestruck. Bring your camera. We repeat bring your camera. Even if you’re not a photographer by hobby or heart, no worries, you’ll still be drawn to take pictures. Especially at places like the Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain "where an optical illusion causes the approaching mountain to get smaller rather than larger." Just before Milford, pull off to the side of the road and take a 20-minute walk to The Chasm. You’ll come across a forested wonderland complete with a small but powerful waterfall.

If you don’t feel comfortable driving this road then you can always take a bus. That way you can sit back and enjoy all the mesmerizing views without a care.

Are you itching to get to New Zealand after reading about all the wild locum tenens experiences you can have here? We don’t blame you. Find out about all the jobs we currently have for physicians in the Land of the Long White Cloud by clicking the orange button below.

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Topics: New Zealand, Land of the Long White Cloud, Waikato, spring, Okarito Lagoon, Whanganui, Golden Bay, Kaikoura, Hamilton, Milford Road

Before you embark on your locum tenens adventure – understand New Zealand’s Maori culture

Posted by Everett Fitch

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In this hyper-connected world it’s easy for us to get too busy, to get too caught up in the everyday, to get too lost in the glow of our phones. Some days we might even forget to look up from our screens more than a few times. We miss out on quite a bit of beauty that way – like the kind that rolls on effortlessly in New Zealand.

Now, we’ve waxed poetic for years about the glorious landscape that’s housed here. And that’s for good reason: it’s home to a plethora of natural wonders. In fact, we plan to keep talking about every last beach, hot spring and fjord here for years to come. But this time is different. This time we’re going to give you a tiny glimpse into how the Māori – a proud people with a fascinating culture – shaped this island-country. Welcome to “the land of the long white cloud," or Aotearoa, as the Māori would call it.

A brief history of Māori settlement

Tangata whenua – that means “the people of the land.” You can probably guess Māori are the tangata whenua (‘wh’ pronounced as ‘f’). The first Polynesian ancestors of Māori stepped on New Zealand shores about 1,000 years ago. Though, it wasn’t until about 700 years ago that settlements were developed. (The exact dates of these settlements are still contested among scholars and historians.)

Māori used the ocean currents, as well as the wind and stars to reach New Zealand. In fact, it was deliberate that Māori found New Zealand. For years they were setting off on voyages of exploration; they were intent on finding land.

Kupe is said to be the first Polynesian explorer who discovered New Zealand. He left his ancestral homeland of Hawaiki and traveled across the Pacific by canoe. (Hawaiki is not to be confused with Hawaii but instead is thought to be a group of islands in the South Pacific where Māori originated.) Eventually he landed at the Hokianga Harbour in Northland – at least that’s where historians believe Māori first made landfall.

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For years Māori gathered and grew their own food. Kumara, which is a sweet potato, was a vital food source and provided sustenance for large settlements of Māori. They hunted, too – seals and moa were their main prey. Then the moa died out because of over-hunting.

Due to the abundance that New Zealand offered, Māori thrived. Populations grew and grew, and so did iwi (tribes). In times of peace, Māori would live in unprotected settlements. When there was tribal warfare, Māori would construct individual pā (fortified villages) to protect themselves from rival iwi.

Then the Europeans came. In 1642, Abel Tasman – a Dutch explorer – was the first to set his eyes on what would be called New Zealand. And it wasn’t until 1769 that the next European, James Cook, stepped foot on these golden shores. In the early 1800s was when Europeans really started shaping the communities, culture and infrastructure that already existed on the islands.

In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was created by the British and signed by Māori chiefs. Essentially, in doing so, Māori ceded power to the British Crown. And European settlement truly began.

Later, in the first half of the 20th century, prominent Māori leaders strived to ensure a better life for their people. Newfound interest in language, arts and culture grew among the younger generations. It was a major revival. Today, Māori comprise about 15% of the total population in New Zealand. Their culture, language and traditions – thanks to the efforts of many – are all still very much alive.

Customs and traditions of the proud Māori

There’s so much to see and do. You’ve got your hāngi, your haka, your pōwhiri, your marae, your pounamu, how do you know where to begin? The best place to start is a marae (meeting grounds).

You can experience Māori culture in a slew of stunning places all over the both North and South Island – like Rotorua, Auckland, Hokianga, Whanganui National Park, Wellington and Kaikoura to name a few. But we recommend you head to the Bay of Islands for a truly unique experience.

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On top of staying at a marae and being greeted with a traditional pōwhiri (welcome ceremony) – an intricate ritual filled with dances and chants (haka) and welcome calls (karanga) – you can also dive further into Māori heritage and take a journey aboard a waka (Māori canoe). Back in 2011, it was featured in National Geographic as one of the world’s top 50 tours of a lifetime. You’ll hear ancient stories from Māori guides as you help paddle the 40-foot war canoe along the Waitangi River.

Don’t leave New Zealand without trying a hāngi meal. Some culinary delights are special because of their exceptional ingredients. But the New Zealand staple hāngi, is exceptional because of its unique preparation. It’s a method of cooking involving an earth-made oven where vegetables and meat spend hours steaming.

A traditional hāngi meal is chicken or fish cooked with seasonal vegetables, or kumara (sweet potatoes, remember?). For thousands of years, Māori have dug pits and lined them with rocks heated in a fire. The food is put into a basket, settled inside the pit on top of the warm rocks, covered with earth and then left to cook. The results are spectacular. We challenge you to find a more traditional New Zealand meal.

More notable places to visit in Aotearoa

Have you ever heard of pounamu? It’s a type of green jade that’s integral to Māori culture. Hokitika and the nearby Arahura River are considered the birthplace of pounamu. While it’s not uncommon to come across small bits of pounamu along Hokitika Beach, your best bet is exploring nearby shops and galleries. You can even visit a master carver and learn about the origins of both New Zealand’s green heart and the art of carving. But be sure to have someone else buy you your own pounamu. It’s bad luck otherwise. Māori believe that pounamu is a gift from the land and so a carved greenstone should be a gift as well.

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Explore New Zealand firsthand

There's a lot we missed. But that's where you come in. It's your turn to experience Aotearoa. On top of everything we outlined above, there are entire museums in New Zealand dedicated to not only preserving but also reviving Māori culture. We suggest you check out the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington for starters. You can learn even more about Māori language and lore, as well as fascinating traditions we didn’t have time to talk about – like the art of Māori tattoo, tā moko. Feel free to learn more about tā moko here.

In the meantime, view our current physician opportunities in the Land of the Long White Cloud. You’re sure to have a blast exploring Māori culture while on locum tenens assignment.

Topics: New Zealand Culture, Maori History, North Island, South Island, New Zealand, Land of the Long White Cloud, New Zealand History, Maori Culture, Aotearoa

Locums for a Small World Blog

Twice a month, our inquisitive locum tenens community asks us to tackle topics ranging from cuisine and culture to recreation and entertainment. We also include great storytelling from our doctors. Have a topic you’d like to read about? Let us know.

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