Moving to a new country to work as a doctor is an exciting but challenging endeavor. Here are the 3 mistakes I made when coming to the UK that hopefully you can avoid along with shared firsthand experience of getting into the UK and working as a doctor.
Here’s mistake number 1.
Blindly trusting an agency and not doing your own research, and that can involve finding a trailblazer, who has already done what you are aiming to do. So here am I in Manchester, UK, getting emails everyday about locum vacancies and for some reason not getting any luck with any jobs, no one is even replying. Yes, we are still looking comes the daily reply from my agency. By chance I end up meeting a junior doctor, tell her my story and she says – no one is going to hire you Mike, you have no UK experience. Why don’t you come to my hospital and do some volunteer work? So here is what I did, rather than calling the hospital, sending emails to secretaries, HR, god knows who, went straight up to my friend’s general surgical consultant and begged him to hire me as an unpaid clinical fellow. He said, meh, why not. Within minutes HR sorted out my outstanding jabs, checks, mandatory training and I was in. After two weeks of coming in everyday and pretending I was interested in surgery, asked for a quick tick box reference, scanned it and sent it to my agency and on that same day was commuting to Warrington Hospital to do a paid locum night shift as a house officer.
Here’s mistake number 2.
Learn your guidelines. Poland was not a great place to learn how to work in a hospital as a doctor. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot about the Krebs Cycle and human embryo organogenesis, but I didn’t have the foggiest idea what a UTI was or how to treat one. Understand this, the UK has guidelines for EVERYTHING. And this can be a tremendous source of comfort for IMGs, that might come from countries where that might not be the case. And the guidelines are easily accessible and extremely practical. So, familiarise yourself with them and that will give you amazing confidence as a doctor.
Final mistake number 3
Do your research before deciding on a place to live. Do not accept the golden handshake they are offering you to work in a part of the country you would not want to live in in 10 years’ time, and don’t accept it just because it’s available straight away. First decide where you want to live because of life reasons, for instance you love the seaside, or the mountains, or you love big cities, or hate big cities and then start looking for jobs. Because, firstly, you will end up staying there for many many years to come, and secondly, medics are always in need in the UK and you will always find a job wherever you go.