Hamida Faiqe, A General Surgeon from Afghanistan [ Part I]
Hamida Faiqe (37), who was a Medical Professional in Afghanistan, immigrated to Canada in December 2007 with family sponsorship. Once being a General Surgeon in Kabul city, now she works as a temporary employee in public sector. I met Hamida in 2013 when she finally started getting an office job after she had worked in stores for several years.
I can still recall being astounded when I heard that she once was a medical practitioner. Hamida, who should be working in hospital or medical clinic in common sense, was then doing data entry and other clerical job to make a living. It didn’t seem to me as perfectly making sense. So I had to ask her about the story behind and this is what she said:
A picture taken in 2004 at Red Cross Hospital (Kabul Afghanistan). Hamida was in the Operation Room having a lot of cases due to war casualties. She worked with other doctors as a team lead. At that time in Afghanistan, two or three groups shared one operating room because of lack space for many patients.
Do you remember how was it like in 2007 when you arrived in Ottawa for the first time?
Yes. Everything was new and interesting. I was excited, optimistic, and trying to focus on the positive aspects of new environment.
What were you doing before you moved to Canada?
I was general surgeon in Afghanistan after I completed the 10-year study specialized in General Surgery at Kabul Medical University in Kabul city. I had worked for different organizations in different countries, such as Red Cross, WHO, and Safe the Children.
What made you decide to come to Canada?
I came here to join my family with a dream to have a better life. I believed that I would be able to find a good job like Physicians because I was an internationally trained medical doctor.
Were you not concerned as you might have difficulties to find a job in your field when you made a decision to immigrate?
I did think that I might have to start from the bottom to work as a first year medical practitioner in Canada although I do have four year experience working in the field. I mean, I was ready to start as a first year resident even though I completed my residency with more than enough time in Kabul city. But, I had no doubt in being able to get a job in my field.
Have you done your research about employment markets in Canada before you landed?
Yes, I did research on the websites and tried to contact with friends living in Canada. Those friends were not medical professionals though. Based on my research, I learned as I had to pass a Medical Exam, so called Evaluation and Qualification Exams, to become a medical practitioner in Canada.
Have you tried those exams?
As soon as I arrived in Canada, I tried my best to pass the exams for residency and I did pass. But, I couldn’t find anywhere to use them. There was no response from anywhere I knocked with. In fact I spent a lot of money to pay the fees to apply for those exams. I started being puzzled.