I moved to the UK from India in May 2017 to pursue further specialization in my field (I am an anaesthesiologist). This entire journey has been a roller coaster ride for me and hence I wanted to share my experiences with you guys.
So let’s dive right into the topic.
Why did I decide to move?
When I was 18, my friends moved away to USA, UK, Australia, Canada etc to pursue further education and I moved into a small village in a rural district in my country to start my medical under graduate degree. Although it seemed impossible due to various reasons, I had a small desire to go abroad at some point in the future.
It was not just the glamour of developed countries but the whole experience of making it on my own that attracted me. So when I entered residency (speciality training in Anaesthesia) in Mumbai in 2013, a small but exciting possibility came up. My post graduate guide and teacher had been trained in the UK for 12 years. So I had a small chance of doing the same!
So I was determined and focussed on my goal. I was moving there after residency by hook or by crook (just kidding).
Apart from education and job opportunities; it was the experience and adventure. I wanted to live independently, experience the culture, travel, make mistakes, meet new people, make it on my own and learn. I was excited and nervous!
Why UK of all the other countries?
As a doctor I need to be registered with a license to practice in the country I choose to practice (usually it requires multiple tests to be cleared). Secondly, communication is very important in my line of work. Both the things were easily achievable in the UK, so I chose it.
What was the purpose of moving to UK?
So career wise it was for two reasons.
- Achieving specialisation in Neuroanaesthesia and critical care (and getting paid for it…obviously!).
- Completing FRCA exams.
Otherwise, I wanted an adventure and honestly I wanted a break!
Job research and applications:
I spent several hours with my bff…. GOOGLE search. I researched about jobs available for international medical graduates, job and person description. And of course the salary! I made a list of cities I considered working it according to accessibility, nearest airports, transport facilities etc.
Since NHS is the biggest healthcare provider in this country, I registered and made a job profile on their website.
Building a good resume:
Of all the applicants from various different countries, some with more experience, why would the employer decide to interview me?
I had to write a good CV to stand out amongst hundreds of applicants. It took me almost 2 months to put together my educational qualifications, experience, research papers, references, statement of purpose etc.
I researched online examples of medical resumes and acquired help from my teacher. I checked and rechecked it for mistakes.
And the day I passed my MD Anaesthesia exams, before celebrating, I sent out at least 30 applications.
Fulfilling pre requisites:
Apart from job, there are two other important pre requisites to work in the UK.
- English competency: In order to show your proficiency in the language you need to clear these exams. People working in healthcare need an overall score to 7.5 which is set at a much higher level than students or other professionals. This was a challenge in spite of English being the language of instruction in medical school. I wanted to get the required score on my first attempt, as it would improve my chances of getting a job as well; I joined classes for 10 days. Luckily secured the required score on the first attempt.
(This made a huge difference in securing a job; I was chosen over a candidate with 5 years more experience because I had cleared IELTS exam.)
- VISA: I researched about the type of visa I would need and documents required for the same. It saved me a lot of time after I got the job and the employers were pleased to see that I had done my homework well.
Seeking help and advice:
It is always helpful to ask people with firsthand experience about working in this country. I did ask my colleagues. However do your research. Everything is available on the internet these days. And then ask questions about things you fail to understand.
Try and try till you succeed.
It wasn’t very easy planning. It seemed like a herculean task. I was dejected at times. I absolutely wanted to give up. But I am glad I didn’t. I will discuss all the problems I faced in this process in the next post. So keep trying.
Right things happen at the right time.
‘All your dreams can come true, if you have the courage to pursue them.’ – Walt Disney
Read more: Chapter two: the application
Copyright 2018 Chris Lemos All rights reserved