Betty vs. The State: a one act play in remembrance of recent reality


Betty returns from travelling South America, blithely planning to take up her medical career where she left off. She will do some revision, a few courses to update her skills and get a well-supervised job to ease back into practice before she decides on further specialty training. Great plan.

Unfortunately, she reckons without the Health Regulatory Body, who promptly put her in a headlock, fling her to the floor and hold a pitchfork to her neck.

Dramatis Personae:

Betty, doctor, returning to work.

Faceless Employee of Health Regulatory Body (FEHRB)

Potential Employer


FEHRB: Who are you?! Speak! Where is the Paperwork demonstrating that you completed an Australian medical degree with distinction, worked for two years in an area of need and received consistently above average supervisors’ reports?!

Betty: Here. In your file.

FEHRB: Oh. Here, rewrite it on this twenty page form and submit with originals in triplicate with payment to the following address.

Exchange of requisite amount of incorrect information and unreturned phone calls. Betty obtains the form and fills out the Paperwork. The Regulatory Body denies that its role is to keep records of the information Betty re-supplies. Betty pays large amount of money.

FEHRB: This won’t do. You need to prove that you are taking up a position where you will be supervised.

Betty: Yes, I’m telling you that I will take up a supervised position. Can you get this pitchfork off my neck now?

FEHRB: No smart arse comments or I’ll report you for bullying a Representative of the Regulatory Body! You need to bring us the evidence from your Potential Employer that the job you have been offered is appropriately supervised, and we will decide whether to give you the Registration you require to do that job.

Betty: But no one will give me a job unless I have Registration. In fact, the Hospital Recruitment People tell me that they are not legally allowed to offer me a job unless I have Registration!

FEHRB: Tough.

Soft musical montage of impending defeat. Potential Employers scatter when confronted with the mountain of repetitive Paperwork the Regulatory Body requires. Betty offers to go back and do her medical degree again, to no avail.

After a few weeks of wrangling, The Regulatory Body grudgingly disclose that The Special Board is having its monthly meeting. This meeting is especially convened to consider wayward cases such that of a doctor who infuriatingly takes a year off to broaden her horizons rather than crawl along the No Variation, Self Determination or Individuality Permitted Escalator to Specialty Training. If she can get the Paperwork to them, they may allow her to continue doing the work she trained for.

Betty: When do you need the Paperwork by?

FEHRB: Yesterday. I know I originally told you the fourth of July, but that was wrong, it was the third of July. I was distracted by the taxpayer funded, five day staff development program in the Barossa Valley, How to Create the Illusion of Efficiency, De-facilitate Action and Misdirect People.

Betty: But the meeting isn’t for two weeks!

FEHRB: Yes, but we need two weeks to file the Paperwork.

Another month goes by, in which time Betty loses another Potential Employer, accrues some more debt and chews off half of her left hand. Eventually she finds a Potential Employer willing to fell half the Tarkine in order to help her become re-recognised in the job she has performed competently for two years.

She approaches the throne room and lays her Paperwork at their feet.

FEHRB: This seems to not be in order. The information we gave you before was wrong. Your Potential Employer needs to do it again. I have since consulted the Handbook for Speaking Like the Terms and Conditions Section of An Airline Ticket and I’ve found that previously I was too clear and had too accurate an understanding of my job.

Betty: I’m sure my asking the Potential Employer will result in their not wanting to employ me.

FEHRB: Tough.

Betty re-approaches a week later with the new Paperwork. Things have become decidedly frosty with the Potential Employer.

FEHRB: I will take this to the Special Board in two weeks. They may decide to grant you Registration, they may not. They may find fault with your Paperwork.

Betty: Can you tell me what that fault may be, so that I may pre-empt it and possibly not have to wait another month for another meeting of the Special Board?


Betty: Can I talk to someone who could tell me?

FEHRB: There is no one who can tell you what the Special Board may decide.

Betty: Could I speak to one of the members of the Special Board?

FEHRB: Even the members of the Special Board have no idea what they may be looking for or may decide (The preceding sentence was uttered, in real life, exactly as transcribed.).

Betty: Ri…ight.

Betty makes contact, two weeks later, after the Meeting of the Special Board.

FEHRB: The Special Board have decided that you may be registered as a Medical Practitioner, but that they will impose rules upon your practice in the form of a Monthly Report which you must submit for your first three months after re-entering practice.

Betty: Great, that’s fine. Happy to do that. Give me my Registration number so that I can go to work, as I’ve relocated to a rural area on the other side of the country and I need to go to work so the other doctors can get some sleep.

FEHRB: No. The rules for the submission of the Monthly Report is decided by Another Special Board, which meets in two weeks.

Betty: But you said the original Special Board just decided!

FEHRB: No, they decided that the Monthly Report needs to be submitted, but they can’t decide on the font and whether it should be double spaced. That is the role of Another Special Board. I will put your case on the Agenda. It will take two weeks to file the Paperwork, which you must supply again, and Another Special Board may or may not have time to make a concisive decision.

Betty: Concisive?

FEHRB: Yes, a concisive decision. It’s similar to the court system. Well, if you think about it, it is a legal court system isn’t it? (Also uttered by apparent human, exactly as transcribed.)

Betty: I am going to sign up for the dole. Can I have my registration fee back?

FEHRB: No, we need it for our next staff development junket in Singapore.

Potential Employer calls.

Potential Employer: Sorry, we can’t do this any more. We really need someone who can work so the other doctors can stop killing people. Good luck.

Betty, with a six figure HECS debt, a raft of desperately needed knowledge and skills and a willingness to practice in a rural area, remains Unregistered. She plans to de-skill, get depressed, become an alcoholic, drain the country of health and welfare funds and serve in the only manner left to her – that of a dire warning against the broadening of experience and cultivation of empathy and resilience, so frivolously unnecessary to our medical practitioners.


4 thoughts on “Betty vs. The State: a one act play in remembrance of recent reality

  1. You forgot the final stage direction: ‘Exit right, pursued by a bear.’
    I identify with this my own rather Kafkaesque journey to get reregistered. Took two years of not being able to work because of (not having registration because of not having worked because of not having registration because of)^n, where n is any number… Needlessly to say, it will be the last time I stray from the straight and narrow.


  2. I worked for 46 years as a legal admin assistant, and I can confirm that most governmenr departments operate just like this one. The country will just grind to a halt one day…hope it is not before I croak it!


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