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Refugee doctors mentored by AMA members

29 October 20190 comments

Refugee doctors are benefiting from free membership of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), career coaching and the opportunity to be mentored.

The initiative stems from the Career Pathway Pilot, a one-year commonwealth government funded pilot program delivered by AMES Australia in Victoria.

And, it is a partnership between AMES Australia and the AMA Victoria that is delivering positive outcomes.

One of the first beneficiaries of the partnership is Dr Marwa Al-Bana who studied medicine and worked as a hospital doctor in northern Iraqi before coming to Australia as a refugee.

Dr Al-Bana’s aims are to resume her medical career in Australia and ultimately become a specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology.

She completed a course for professional migrants and refugees with AMES Australia before finalising her professional qualification recognition process and is being mentored by Dr Jurstine Daruwalla.

Dr Daruwalla is surgeon working with the Northern Hospital’s Acute General Surgery Unit which handles emergency surgeries.

She has long experience of being mentor both as a university student mentoring other students and as mentor to Sudanese refugees through AMES.

“If you have the knowledge and experience, why not help someone else?” Dr Daruwalla said.

“It is important to do thing outside your career and be involved in things in the wider world,” she said.

Dr Al-Bana currently, applying for first year doctor positions in hospitals with Dr Daruwalla’s help.

She said the mentoring and career advice she was receiving through the partnership was very helpful.

“It is very useful to have access to Jurstine’s knowledge of the medical system here in Australia. She is a great support for me,” Dr Al-Bana said.

Dr Al-Bana is from a family of medicos.

“As a child I would go to the clinic with my father and see him care for his patients,” she said.

Her hero is Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub, the famous Egyptian-Coptic – British surgeon who pioneered lung and heart transplants and 2015 received the Lister medal from the Royal College of Surgeons for his contributions to surgical science.

“I am inspired by Sir Magdi Yacoub,” Dr Al-Bana said.

“My philosophy is that when someone is sick they are at their weakest and a doctor can relieve this by providing empathetic support as well as medication and surgery,” she said.  

There are six currently mentee-mentor pairs under the partnership with doctors from Syria and Iraq matched with AMA members.

The mentees have also been supported by AMES employment staff and the Career Pathway Pilot program.