Are you an overseas medical oncologist looking to move to the UK? Here you can hear first-hand the experience of an international medical oncologist who has been through the process, from completing their MRCP and GMC registration, to securing an NHS job and relocating to the UK?
IMG Stories is our series introducing you to international doctors who we have helped to relocate to the UK - sharing their personal journeys from working overseas to securing a new job as a doctor in the NHS.
Today we introduce Kishore Kumar, a brilliant consultant oncologist who relocated to the UK from India. Kishore has been living and working in the UK after receiving full GMC with license to practice. He is now working in the NHS at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, where he is making a positive impact on the service and the wider community.
Tell us about yourself - what should the IMG community know about Kishore Kumar?
I am a medical oncologist who moved to the UK from India. I moved to the UK later in my life than most IMGs, I'd say, having worked as a consultant medical oncologist in India for over 11 years before I decided to move to the NHS. The system I worked in was quite similar to the NHS (free medical care at the point of access), and whilst I was looking for a change, this was something I enjoyed about my previous work and was looking for that in any healthcrae system I may move into.
What motivated you to move to the UK?
The NHS is arguably one of the finest healthcare systems in the world (I know many some may disagree, but having personally seen some other systems, I would definitely rate the NHS very highly). Working in the NHS was a long-held desire of mine, so the move was logical once the opportunity presented itself.
Tell us about your experience with the Royal College exams...
I passed the MRCP exams in 2005 at a time when there were no overseas centers in India. I had to travel to the UK for the exam, which was held in Glasgow and I also attended a training session in Ealing Hospital for the exam. It was very exciting process for me, especially visiting the UK for the first time.
Do you have any tips or advice for overseas doctors who are currently working towards MRCP?
I passed the exam quite a while ago, so I'm not sure how relevant my advice will be to current candidates. However from my experience, overseas doctors need to understand the NHS system to do well, especially for the PACES exam. Practices which build on this knowledge would be helpful.
How did you manage to navigate and juggle the different aspects of registration whilst working?
Since I was working full time, I needed to set aside dedicated time to study for the MRCP exams. I roped in a friend (a very bright doctor) who would conduct mock exams for me over the weekends.
Did you have any major or unexpected issues with the GMC registration process or your visa application?
Since I was applying for GMC registration a significant amount of time after passing the MRCP, the GMC wanted evidence that I was still up-to-date in my practice. Luckily, this wasn't too complicated and the GMC advisor was very helpful.
How did you find a medical oncology job within the NHS?
Two words: IMG Connect. I was completely new to the process and I was quite unsure about locations and the general steps. Ruaidhri form the IMG Connect team was my go-to person for everything, from advice regarding locations, to job profiles, visas, and GMC registration. I don’t think I would have made it here if not for him. Most importantly, IMG Connect really listened and took into consideration all of my needs and worries. They go far beyond any of the simple questions you may have for them and cover all angles, including things you may not have considered yourself!
I would advise any IMGs hoping to relocate to the UK to find someone (like Ruaidhri) who will genuinely look after THEIR interests. It is easy to land up in the wrong role and to struggle through the complications of trying to leave soon after. If in doubt, seek advice from overseas doctors already in the UK and honest recruitment teams like IMG Connect.
Tell us about a day in the life of an NHS consultant medical oncologist...
The days are usually quite busy. They are split into two sessions (morning and afternoon), with at least one session (sometimes both) being a clinic and the other an MDT or another supportive activity. Working in the UK is very different to working in India, in some ways. At my current hospital, we see far less patients than I used to, but the amount of time spent on each patient is far greater. Of course, five-day working weeks are very welcome (it was six in India).
Tell us about your journey to the UK...
I arrived in early November 2020, when the UK had just gone into its second lockdown. COVID numbers were very high and many people advised me against traveling until things had settled. However, at this point I didn’t see COVID-19 going away anytime soon and decided there was no time like the present. The only difference was my family made sure I traveled business class to decrease the risks - this was the only time I've ever flown business class and it was nice ;-)
What has been your experience working with IMG Connect?
Absolutely fantastic! I can’t thank Ruaidhri and Marcus enough for everything. Just to give you an example, once I'd landed in the UK and reached my accomodation, I had to quarantine for two weeks. Ruaidhri drove over 3 hours (one way, at night) from Scotland to my place and brought in groceries for the next two weeks, since I would not be able to go shopping. Need I say more.
Although it’s been almost a year since my arrival in the UK, I still regularly chat with Ruaidhri and Marcus. We're like old friends at this point.
How are you settling into life in the UK?
I'd say I'm settling in quite well, and my colleagues agree. I am currently here without my family (they will join me later), so I've needed something to do at the weekends. Once the lockdown lifted, I bought a car and have traveled quite a bit. I go trekking most weekends and enjoy visiting new places.
What have you enjoyed most about living in Middlesbrough in particular?
The proximity to great places to visit. It’s just 20 mins from the beach, or the Yorkshire Moors. London (from Darlington) is less than 3 hours away, and Scotland is a couple of hours away, as is the lake district.
What’s next for you now that you’re working in the UK?
My department has been very helpful. They are actively supporting me in my CESR application process, and I'm getting involved in research and clinical trials. I have also been given teaching opportunities, and even delivered a talk in the Royal College of Physicians CPD series.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in moving to the UK?
I'd say the separation from my family, primarily on accound of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Have you experienced any culture shocks living in the UK?
No real 'shocks', but I've found the people here quite friendly. The only shock really is how expensive things are compared to India (things like train fares, eating out etc). I've also been introduced to things I'd never done before, like filling petrol and air in a car, ironing clothes etc.
What have you missed about India the most?
Other than my family, I miss the sunny days most (where I lived in India was sunny and not very hot). I will never take the sun for granted again!
Is there anything you wish you’d known before you began your journey to live and work in the UK?
Not really. Having friends and family who already lived in the UK (as well as the power of the internet), meant that a lot of my questions had already been answered and there was a lot of information available to me.
Do you have any tips or advice for international doctors who want to move to the UK?
Moving to the UK is something to consider if you're an IMG looking for a good work-life balance. A medical oncologst might be paid better in some countries, but it would be difficult to beat the quality of work and the relatively stress-free work environment here. I'd say try to avoid landing here during the winter - it does not make a very good first impression, but if you have interests in other areas (especially travel or hiking), the summers here are really awesome!
Moving to live and work in the UK is a big decision to make but can be massively rewarding in many ways. International doctors have the chance to find a new home and the NHS presents an incredible opportunity to secure rewarding jobs, progress within their field and explore adjacent opportunities such as CESR (for non-EEA doctors), writing publications and research. Whatever route an overseas doctor may take on their journey to the UK, IMG Connect is here to support them through every step and welcome them to the IMG Connect family.