“What I love most about New Zealand are the people,” says Dr. Katrine Bengaard, a family medicine physician. “They were so excited to show me their lives.”
Dr. Bengaard recently went to New Zealand for a year on assignment for Global Medical Staffing. She says she has always been adventurous and into traveling, making locums a good match for her loves for medicine and travel.
“My mother is American and my father Norwegian, and I was born in South Korea and grew up in Japan. We’ve always traveled a lot, and I’m from an international family,” she explains. “I’ve been globally minded my whole life.”
Dr. Bengaard discovered locum tenens through a quiz on Facebook. The locumstory.com quiz asked if locum tenens might be the right option for you. Dr. Bengaard took the quiz, and the results told her that locums was a good fit, so after practicing private medicine in the U.S. for 6.5 years, she clicked on the link, connected with her GMS rep Amy Duquette, and got signed up to go to New Zealand.
“I’ve always traveled a lot,” she explains. “I traveled in my teen years doing mission trips to Bolivia, Mexico and Jamaica, and in college I spent a semester in India and a summer in Norway. In medical school, I spent a couple months in Kenya with medical mission team, and in residency, went to Columbia every year.”
She was so sure she would love this lifestyle that she sold her house and car before she left in case she wanted to stay in New Zealand or continue a series of locum adventures.
Passion for medicine
Dr. Bengaard went into medicine to help people.
“When I was in India during my undergrad years, I did a leprosy project and got inspired by a doctor there and his compassion for his patients. That’s when I decided to shift my focus to medicine,” she says.
In New Zealand, she was able to put her medical skills to good use while working on the west coast of North Island. During her assignment, she covered all the district’s practices, going to over 15 practices in the year’s time. She says that it exposed her to a lot of clinics and patients.
“New Zealand was definitely more my style than U.S. healthcare,” she says. “I would say that I was refreshed not to have to do billing and admin data entry. There, I could focus more on what I learned in medical school instead of messing around with insurance.”
A desire to go back
Dr. Bengaard says that she wants to go back to New Zealand and is looking forward to making it happen, after earning a bit more money in the U.S. first.
“It was amazing — everything about it,” she says with a smile. “The people were so welcoming and wanted to show me their beautiful country. One thing I enjoyed was being in a dairy farming community and they invited me to help with milking and calving. It was so exciting to do things I had never experienced before.”
While in New Zealand, using the generous PTO doctors get when on assignment, she was able to travel a lot too. She says that every area of New Zealand has its charm.
“The big places are the big cities like Auckland, Queenstown, and Christchurch, and they are a must-see. Napier is one my favorite cities. It has such unique décor art deco and festivals and is such a quaint little place to visit. It’s not on the typical tourist place list. Anyone visiting New Zealand should go there,” she says.
“I have more to see,” she adds. “I want to go back.”
Give it a try
She urges others to find a way to take an international assignment if possible.
“If you’re looking for a change, it’s a really nice opportunity,” she says. “I think it’s well worth it.”
To learn more about international or domestic locums, give us a call at 800.760.3174 or view today’s locum tenens job opportunities.
Kari Redfield is a professional content marketing writer. She also is a novelist and writes for newsstand magazines and has had work appear in publications such as Arizona Highways, Sedona Magazine, and American Fitness. And like the locums physicians profiled in these stories, she loves the flexibility and new experiences that her unique job provides, and loves to travel. She has been known to spend weeks in the U.S. West in her Aliner, checking out classic trad rock climbs, epic mountain bike rides, and other adventures while writing from the road.