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Monday, December 03, 2007

Why it is so difficult for a Dutch physiotherapist to get registered in New Zealand?

The following is the body of an email from Lienz, a Dutch trained physiotherapist who emigrated to New Zealand.  After almost 4 years trying, she gave up trying to get registered as a physiotherapist and has returned to the Netherlands, disheartened and completely broke.

"Dear Gary,
Thanks for your email. Its good to knowI'm supported from far.  It means a lot to me.
I understand you are still angry, so are a lot of people that know the situation.  Feel free to have a chat to someone, because its a important issue that does need attention, I feel.

I have a bachelor degree, Bachelor of Health Physiotherapy. The Dutch degree is only different in the cardiopulmonary area and not even that much I think.  And the fact that the student is free to choose their placements might be different. I chose to do my final two placements in the private practice eventhough one of those was in the royal navy hospital.  It was more like a private practice setting.

So not too much experience in the cardio area.  In the Netherlands its more like a specialization to be a physio on IC or hospital.

I think the immigration service and the people I talked to on a expo about immigration could have been better informed about the difficulties for physio's to get registered.. that's a thing I'm certain about. After getting my permanent recidency in 8 weeks without any problems we figured registration for physio wouldn't be that hard either.  Wrong assumption as we all know now. If I had known I would have prepared better leaving home and I might have done some more study here before i left 3 and a half years ago.

The Physio Society has been kind but useless in this. They separate themselves from the Board, telling you they know its a lenghty and hard process but that they can't be of any help. They should review together with the government how functional the process is and report to the Board in order to make some essential changes.

Like I said, there are some differences but in general, I think a lower back here hurts the same way as in NZ

They've set their standards too thight I think.

Good luck talking to someone. I hope it will help me and others that are over or thinking of coming over.
This story is not good for PR for a country that is trying to attract educated and hard-working immigrants.  3 1/2 years trying her best and the closest she got to working as a physiotherapist was part time work cleaning the filthy bottoms and rooms of people unable to care for themselves for $15 an hour.

I witnessed Lienz's struggles and frustrations with the Physiotherapy Board which made her leap through endless hoops.  Then they would ask her to do it all again; but this time the hoops were flaming!  Come what may, another concern was identified and she was asked to go away and prepare more "evidence".  As far as one could tell, there was not the slightest effort to assist her with gaining registration, just endless obstruction and delay that has dragged the process from months to years.

As a former official with ACC and a former employer of physiotherapists, I am of the opinion that Lienz's academic qualifications are equal to and probably superior to the New Zealand qualifications of the people who were sitting in Godly judgement of her competency.  

Why was it so difficult to the point of reluctance to give her a licence to practice in New Zealand?  Was it because the physiotherapists in charge do not want a flood of European trained physiotherapist coming in and showing up their inferior NZ graduates?  Is it that physiotherapists trained in Europe are held to higher account of clinical outcomes and they will threaten the inferior ACC fueled production line treatment protocols that prevails in private physiotherapy practice in New Zealand?  If there were concerns about her competency in an area of her professional training; why could she not be asked to do xyz hours of that work under the supervision of another physiotherapist?  

The NZ Society of Physiotherapists is invited to respond to these questions.

Over the last year or so, Lienz and I had our private training sessions and she helped me out by doing some massage therapy here and there (Not physiotherapy).  She is very good at what she does.  She is reliable and professional.  She is one of the best workers I have come across in a very long time.  I would rate her as good as any graduate I have seen come out of a New Zealand Physiotherapy School.  She even speaks English fluently and she can probably write up case notes better than most NZ graduates nowadays.  She has the Dutch work ethic.

But it was deemed by those in High Authority that she is not competent to practice physiotherapy in New Zealand.  Not even with supervision by a lesser trained NZ physiotherapist.

If representatives from New Zealand are encouraging foreign trained professionals to come here to practice because we need them and they subsequently discover, on arrival that they can't practice their trade, then this is misrepresentation.

Lienz went home to her Mum and Dad in the Netherlands a few weeks ago, flat broke and with almost four years break in her professional development.  The way New Zealand treated her is an embarrassment. 

Lienz: I apologise for the shameful way that you were treated.  Come back soon!

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