A physician's journey to the UK - Dr Rehan Qureshi
May 02, 2022
Are you an overseas physician looking to move to the UK? Here, you can hear first-hand the experiences of an international general physician 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 you to Rehan Qureshi, a brilliant general medicine specialty doctor who relocated to the UK from Saudi Arabia with his wife, children and his mother in 2020. Having passed the MRCP and English language exams, Rehan received full GMC registration with license to practise. He is now working in the NHS at Scarborough General Hospital in the north of England – where he is making a fantastic impact on the service and wider community.
Tell us about yourself - what should the IMG community know about Rehan Qureshi?
I'm a physician with a special interest in acute and renal medicine and over 19 years of multi-centre clinical experience. My other areas of interest are clinical research, healthcare quality and patient safety, medical education as well as medical leadership.
What motivated you to move to the UK?
I was practicing overseas where despite working very hard, I had very limited prospects in terms of career progression and growth. I have always admired the NHS’ policy of ‘fair and equal opportunities for all’, and I view the UK in general as a fair and multicultural society.
Tell us about your experience with the Royal College of Physicians exams...
Honestly, these were some very hard times … as a family, it was quite tough for us while I was taking my MRCP exams. Each time I failed, my wife cried … but I didn't because I knew, the only way to get through the process and past failure was resilience! That helped and in the end I passed!
Do you have any tips or advice for overseas doctors who are currently working towards MRCP?
Never lose hope. Set a goal, work hard towards it and keep trying until you succeed! Avoid negativity and people who discourage you. Remember, MRCP is very much doable, though not easy. Practice is the key!
How did you manage to navigate and juggle the different aspects of registration whilst working?
I divided my day into four parts: work, MRCP, family and rest. I'd ususally finish work by 5pm and immediately begin my MRCP practice from 5pm - 8pm at the hospital. After getting back home at about 8:30pm, I'd have time for dinner and to spentd a couple of hours with family before going to sleep. The weekends were definitely better, but I'd still spend at least 6 hours in the library. I'd suggest you start your intense preparation no sooner than 6 months in advance. You need to work hard, but try to avoid burnout. For me, it worked.
Did you have any major or unexpected issues with the GMC registration process or your visa application?
I had none at all - everything went smoothly.
How did you find a medical oncology job within the NHS?
To be honest, I connected with Marcus & Ruaidhri, who did everything for me. They actually made my journey to getting my first NHS job a piece of cake! This was to the extent that when we arrived in the UK and reached our hotel, (at a time when the UK was in lockdown due to COVID), we had all our groceries promptly delivered by them. What more could anyone ask for? I knew some friends who were working with other agencies that left everything to them. With how much IMG Connect had helped me, I used to ask Ruaidhri questions to help my friends as well.
My advice: find yourself an agency that is known to be responsible and is keen to truly help. I personally found IMG connect very very helpful!
Tell us about your journey to the UK...
It was scary to travel at a time when the UK was in lockdown and COVID-19 cases were so high. However, my journey was made very simple, since all the logistics including visas were sorted by Ruaidhri, so we did not face any unnecessary hassle. I would say, it was a very smooth transition, we enjoyed two weeks of quarantine as we had been longing to spend some quality time together as a family and enjoy a good rest before starting up again.
What has been your experience working with IMG Connect?
The support I received on this journey was amazing. I absolutely could not ask for more. For the first time in my life, I traveled without any need to think or worry about logistics because they were being so well-managed by Ruaidhri and his team at IMG connect. My wife and I were traveling with young children and and my elderly mother, and I must say, we have been taken care of very well!
How are you settling into life in the UK?
We have been settling in very well. In Scarborough, we have a beach that my children enjoy going to, and they also love their new school. Not for a single day have we felt that we are in a country of different culture, ethnicity or faith. My daughter had a pleasant surprise when her school teacher greeted her with 'Eid Mubarak' on the day of Eid festive, which was a great welcome during our first time celebrating Eid in the UK. The UK is truly wonderful and people are very welcoming here. It's beautifully blended multi-cultural society and we consider the UK our home now.
What have you enjoyed most about living in Scarborough in particular?
So many things: the beach, the variety of fun activities for children - like steam engine trains and parks. We've even enjoyed snow for the first time. Fish and chips are great! Traveling in the UK is absolutely easy and fun and there's so much to do and see.
What opportunities have become available to you through your work?
I am really enjoying my current role. Within a year of joining the NHS as a specialty doctor, I now hold 4 different roles: I'm a senior lecturer at Hull York Medical School, an SAS regional representative for RCP London, an SAS Teaching Fellow and a member of the RCPQI. I’m also starting my postgraduate certificate in health professions education funded by the HEE. I have the support of mt Trust with my CESR application and have been given the opportunity for research and to become a medical examiner.
For comparison, I was in my previous position for a decade, and only had one role with no career progression prospects.
What’s next for you now that you’re working in the UK?
I think you should always aim high with your goals. I aim to establish myself as a clinical leader as well as an academic leader, a clinical researcher and principal investigator. In the short term, I look forward to taking on the new 'Specialist' role and making progress on my CESR application with my hospital's support.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in moving to the UK?
This would be my mother's visa. I'm an only child, so I couldn't relocate without her. Before finding IMG connect, many agencies had contacted me with job opportunities and all refused to help with my mother's visa. IMG Connect on the other hand, never give up. Marcus & Ruaidhri, perhaps, enjoy such challenges :-) Ruaidhri literally went out on a limb to help me on this. He contacted people, introduced me to an agency, helped me prepare the entire case and finally - we got it done and my mother was given her visa! I can't tell you what a huge relief it was. A big thank you to Ruaidhri, Marcus and the entire team at IMG Connect for this!
Have you experienced any culture shocks living in the UK?
Not at all! As I said, the UK is a multicultural, multi-faith country. People here in Yorkshire are very welcoming. We can easily find Halal food from local shops which also sell vegetarian food. We have a mosque in town, and there are separate prayer rooms for both male and female Muslim staff in the hospital. We feel so at home here.
What have you missed about Saudi Arabia the most?
We've definitely missed our old friends, and relatives.
Is there anything you wish you’d known before you began your journey to live and work in the UK?
I already had most of the information I needed before I came by Ruaidhri and Marcus, so there was nothing that came as a shock or surprise to me.
Do you have any tips or advice for international doctors who want to move to the UK?
I have a couple of pieces of advice. Firstly, if you are struggling to progress in your career, consider relocating to the UK. Here, it does not matter who you are, or where you come from. What matters is how dedicated and hardworking you are and I think your hard work always pays off. The NHS is a great institution and wonderful place to work. Secondly, I'd say consider taking an specialty doctor role. It's a great position where you'll have career prospects to develop as a locum consultant and enjoy a good work-life balance.
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.
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