Newspaper article by André Gouws
Career Opportunities on Cruise Liners for South African Medical Professionals
His original intention was to do it for just four months, but before he knew it twelve years on the open seas had passed, the best experience he could have dreamed of – but never thought possible. This is the tale of Dr Mandrid Blignaut of Dolphin Beach in the Mother City.
He managed to combine his dreams of travel with a stimulating career at sea as a Ship’s Doctor.
Blignaut and his business partner, Dr Rudolph Young of Green Point, founded a local recruitment agency, Cruise Line Medical Recruitment, at the beginning of this year. Their purpose is to find placements for South African doctors and nursing sisters on cruise ships of P&O Princess Cruises.
This means it is now so much easier for locally qualified doctors and nurses who dream of an exciting career where they can see the world and practice in first class conditions.
Thanks to his years of service on the cruise liners of P&O Princess Cruises, Blignaut was asked to assist with the recruitment process right here in South Africa. Young is a highly experienced Human Resources professional who is involved with the selection of suitable candidates.
Aspirant Ship’s Doctors and nurses should know life on cruise ships is not an easy retirement job simply filled with exotic new sights, it can be very challenging. That is exactly why it can be such a stimulating opportunity for doctors and nurses to develop their careers, while still enjoying those exotic sights and interesting people!
There are few opportunities for doctors to travel for many years without giving up their practices. That is, except for cruise ships.
Blignaut says the minimum requirement is that candidates should have at least three years postgraduate experience, including recent work in a Casualty environment.
Working on ships comes with its own unique challenges, especially for the Ship’s Doctor, who sometimes needs to fulfill something of a social function. It could happen that a passenger might stop the doctor somewhere enquiring about the day’s entertainment on the ship, ending in a friendly chat. All in a day’s work . . .
Doctors will stay in their own private cabin, which is serviced daily. They also have free access to all the entertainment facilities on board.
There are many advantages – the salary is very good, in dollar and tax free. There are few expenses because accommodation and food are part of the deal!
Medical facilities on board are top class: there are simple operating rooms, X-ray machines, wards for patients, excellent communication facilities – everything that might be needed. The cruise company also sees to it that doctors stay on top of their game by always being informed of new medical developments.
Generally doctors and nurses work on board for four months, after which they can return home for two months before returning to the ship for another four month placement.
Doctors are provided with free internet facilities on board and there are also good telephone connections when you need to phone home.
According to Blignaut the twelve years he spent on cruise ships were unforgettable and he, quite literally, saw almost the whole world. He made new friends from many different countries.
P&O Princess Cruises use a variety of ships, some have about 1000 people on board and others up to 3500. There are two doctors on board, one junior and one senior, and three or four nurses. There are also full prescription facilities.
The Far East, the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean, even Alaska or Antarctica – the world is your oyster if you have the right qualification and the personality to cope easily on a ship, where sometimes you might feel far away from home, but you would also experience more growth in your career than you had ever dreamed of.