As a GP crisis looms across the country, a South African doctor with more than 14 years' experience is being forced to wait one-and-a-half years to sit her Kiwi medical exams.
Claire Terblanche told Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB this morning that she immigrated to New Zealand last year but can't sit the second of two exams she has to pass until March next year.
She said the second exam only runs three times a year and each sitting only has 28 spots available.
"I can't take the test in November because it's full, and the June sitting got filled in October last year."
Terblanche said she took the first academic test in February and passed.
However, because of the delay in receiving her results, she missed the cut for booking stage two in November.
"I don't know why they only take 28, they can't give me a reason for that."
Terblanche said she was told the exam used to be run five times a year instead of three.
"I'm told the system has got progressively worse in the last five years but I have no idea why and every doctor I speak to doesn't know."
The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners' president Dr Tim Malloy said these tests were not just a bit of paper but clinical exams which require actors and patients, and take all day.
"There are pragmatic reasons why there are restrictions on the capacity to examine in a particular timeframe."
Dr Malloy said the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners were not the testers but set the standards of training and qualification in New Zealand.
The Medical Council of New Zealand runs the testing and were not available for comment.
The first set of exams is costing Terblanche $4000 and her March exams will cost another $4000, yet there is no guarantee of a job.
If she passes the New Zealand medical tests, she then needs to undergo a two-year internship, which she has already done in South Africa before she could practise as a GP.
Terblanche said for an overseas doctor finding an internship is near impossible.
"All the internships with DHBs are allocated to New Zealand graduates or Australian medical graduates."
She said she basically needs to wait for an intern to get sick to fill their post.
"I know overseas doctors who have waited five years for an internship and by that time their New Zealand medical certificate has expired. There's a real problem with this system."
Dr Malloy said this wasn't a problem until the Government increased the number of medical students coming out of medical school in New Zealand.
"In the past we used to recruit junior doctors from around the world. Now we have saturated junior doctor numbers in New Zealand.
"This has creating a barrier for overseas GPs getting jobs in New Zealand."
Terblanche, who is currently based in Wellington, said she would work anywhere in New Zealand because she loves the lifestyle here and her husband locked in a good job here.
"I've been speaking to a practice who are happy to have me but the wait could be up to three years."
"If I can't get a job we will move to Ireland where I know they would be happy to have me," Terblanche said.
Terblanche said she did not think it would be this hard to practise in New Zealand before she immigrated, especially given the country's GP shortage.
"In terms of treating patients, you have a heart attack in New Zealand, you have a heart attack in South Africa, we treat you the same."