A psychiatrist's journey to the UK - Dr Kevin Li

  • November 18, 2021
 

Are you an overseas Psychiatrist looking to move to the UK? Have you always wanted to hear first-hand the experiences of an international Psychiatrist who has been through the process, from completing their MRCPsych exams to GMC registration, and from securing an NHS job to 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 Kevin Li, a brilliant psychiatry specialty doctor who relocated to the UK from Hong Kong in 2021. Having passed the MRCPsych and English language exams, Kevin received full GMC registration with license to practise. He is now working in the NHS at Lancashire & South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust in the north of England – where he is making a fantastic impact on the service and wider community.  


What motivated you to move to the UK? 

Psychiatrists are in demand in the UK and Hong Kong psychiatrists who have years of experiences would be very much welcomed to work in the country. With some NHS Trusts there is also a well-established CESR program to help overseas psychiatrists with MRCPsych to attain specialist registration. Specialist registration in the UK is also well recognised in a lot of other English-speaking countries. 

Tell us about your journey through the Royal College of Psychiatry exams… 

I had completed my specialist training in Hong Kong quite some time ago. I only decided to sit the MRCPsych exams last year. Due to the pandemic, all exams were conducted online which actually facilitated a lot of Hong Kong doctors to sit for the exams. Having always been involved in training and supervision of junior psychiatrists, it helped me a lot to keep myself updated with the knowledge and skills required for sitting examinations.  

Do you have any tips or advice for overseas doctors who are currently working towards MRCPsych? 

For the MCQ based paper A and B, it is important to set aside time for some intensive studying before the exam as a lot of the knowledge asked would not come up in everyday work. It is also important to pay attention to minute details in each topic which would often come up in the exams.  

For CASC exams, it would be useful to form a study group with colleagues and have practice sessions together, as well as watching demonstration videos (such as some paid online courses) to learn the skill required to pass type of different stations. Time management (7 minutes) to complete the tasks in each station is also crucial.  

How did you manage to navigate and juggle the different aspects of registration whilst working full time? 

For overseas doctors having attained MRCPsych, registration with the GMC is fairly straightforward after taking an English proficiency exam, which should not be too difficult if one received medical education in English. 

However, as the GMC closes an application if it could not be completed within 90 days, I found it important to have all the documents ready prior to submitting the application, especially letter of good standings, further proof of qualification and training from the university faculty which took time to be prepared. 

Did you have any major or unexpected issues with the GMC registration process or your visa application? 

There had been no major difficulties in terms of the registration. The HR team and IMG connect have been in constant touch with me to see what my needs are and accommodate my relocation schedule. 

How did you find a general adult psychiatry job within the NHS? 

For Hong Kong doctors coming to the UK, it is better to look for job openings that specifically states that IMG applicants are welcome. It would usually take IMGs quite a while to adapt to the system in the NHS and it is important that the Trust would give time for induction and support for IMGs during the initial phrase when they start their job.  

It is also good to keep one’s mindset open to offers in locations that might not be the most popular at first look. Posts in popular locations such as Greater London or Greater Manchester are usually a lot more competitive and the support provided to IMGs could be less sometimes. It would also be a good opportunity to experience life in the UK out of the usual few big cities. There are always opportunities to move to another place after gaining experiences working in the UK. 

Tell us about a day in the life of an international General Adult Psychiatrist, newly started in the NHS… 

As a specialty doctor with the MRCPsych qualification, one is expected to take an active role in the MDT team with the support of the Consultant, for example on deciding on medications, deriving a care package with other stakeholders.  

There is a strong focus on mental health legal and human rights compliance in the field of psychiatry, as well as adherence to treatment guidelines in the UK. Some doctors may need certain time to adjust to such differences in practice from their home countries. There are junior doctors who can readily assist with physical problems of patients, which might make it easier for a Hong Kong psychiatry specialist to adapt after years of working in psychiatric setting only.  

What was your journey like to the UK during a period of COVID-19 restrictions? 

I arrived at a time when restrictions were gradually easing. It was very easy to arrange mandatory COVID tests according to the government requirements. Most hotels or Airbnbs would welcome arrivals into the UK to be used as self-isolation.  

What has been your experience working with IMG Connect? 

I had received excellent support from IMG connect in terms of securing a job offer that suits my level and experiences, as well as advising on the career prospect and negotiating an attractive numeration package. The IMG connect team also gave me a lot of useful suggestions about finding accommodation in a suitable area close to work.  

Most importantly they have excellent communication with the HR team in the Trust, which makes formalizing the offer and completing the necessary paper works much easier. 


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.   

 

Relevant Jobs

110,257 - 164,372

We are looking to recruit a Consultant Psychiatrist to a Crisis & Assessment Team role in the Channel Islands, a UK territory sitting off the coast of France and just a 1 hour flight from London. This job presents a great opportunity to advance your medical career in the UK.

The health service, separate from the NHS, is an integrated, taxation-funded system, free at the point of delivery, managed by the Health and Community Services Department on the island. Key benefits of working there are higher salaries than the NHS, lower taxes and sunnier weather.

Consultant Pay range - £110,257 to £164,372
Single rate of tax - 20%.

The Department & Team

The Crisis and Assessment Team (CAT) serves as the primary gateway to adult and older people\'s mental health services, conducting assessments in the community and emergency settings, alongside medical reviews. They collaborate closely with law enforcement, responding to Adult Protection Notices and coordinating mental health law assessments. This role within the CAT focuses on streamlining referrals, providing short-term crisis interventions, and ensuring individuals receive appropriate ongoing care. You\'ll engage with both working-age adults and older adults, with responsibilities extending to police referrals and mental health law assessments during standard working hours, with on-call commitments.

Continued Professional Development

Professional development is integral to their ethos, offering CESR Portfolio Pathway support, access to specialty training, and opportunities for sub-specialist development. They prioritize ongoing learning through conferences, local CME events, and a generous study leave allowance.

Life in the area

Living in this location offers significant financial benefits. The flat income tax rate of 20% is notably advantageous compared to the UK, and a generous public sector pension scheme is provided, not constrained by UK lifetime or annual contribution limits. The consultant contract closely mirrors the UK model but offers higher incremental levels starting at £110,257 and with a top basic salary of £164,372.


Am I eligible for this role?

UK based candidates:

  • Experience in General Adult Psychiatry
  • Specialist Registration or locum consultant experience

EEA candidates: 

  • Experience in General Adult Psychiatry
  • European Specialist Qualification


Non-EEA candidates:

  • MRCPsych
  • Experience in General Adult Psychiatry
110,257 - 164,372

We are looking to recruit a Consultant Psychiatrist to an Old Age role in the Channel Islands, a UK territory sitting off the coast of France and just a 1 hour flight from London. This job presents a great opportunity to advance your medical career in the UK.

The health service, separate from the NHS, is an integrated, taxation-funded system, free at the point of delivery, managed by the Health and Community Services Department on the island. Key benefits of working there are higher salaries than the NHS, lower taxes and sunnier weather.

Consultant Pay range - £110,257 to £164,372
Single rate of tax - 20%.

 

What is the health & community service like?

Working in this location is professionally rewarding, offering high-quality, patient-centered care. Clinicians lead in developing and managing services, supported by strong links with UK specialists. With a generous study leave budget, doctors are encouraged to pursue further education. Exciting developments include a new general hospital and a new mental health inpatient unit. The service fosters strong relationships between mental health, primary, and secondary care, promoting joint learning and teaching in a modern education center.

What is the department & team like?

The inpatient services are currently undergoing extensive refurbishment, including two wards for older adults. One ward offers 14 assessment beds for individuals over 65 experiencing functional mental health issues, with some flexibility for those under 65. The other ward provides 10 assessment beds for patients with dementia. Following the refurbishment, the latter ward will feature 8 acute assessment beds and 8 transitional/step-down beds for those with dementia or enduring mental health problems who cannot be supported in local nursing or residential homes.

The Older Adults Community Mental Health Team (OACMHT) manages a caseload of about 300 patients, including new referrals triaged by the Crisis and Assessment team, providing both short-term treatment and long-term care coordination. The role involves providing medical support to the OACMHT alongside two other consultants and a staff grade doctor.

The post holder will join an established team, comprising 2 WTE older adult consultants, 1.0 WTE Associate Specialist (Memory Assessment Service), 2.0 WTE staff grades (inpatient and community), and 1.0 WTE F1 doctor (inpatients and community). Dedicated administrative support includes a 0.5 WTE medical secretary and ward and team secretarial support.

Continued Professional Development

This position offers further training and accreditation within psychiatry, including CESR Portfolio Pathway support, access to specialty training, and the opportunity to develop sub-specialist interests. The post holder will have ample opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and experience through attendance at relevant courses, conferences, and locally organized CME events. The organization supports Continuing Medical Education with time and financial support, offering study leave of 30 days in 3 years and an annual study leave allowance. Regular case discussions, teaching sessions, and MDT supervision ensure ongoing professional development, meeting the Royal College of Psychiatrists\' CPD requirements.

Living in the Area

Living in this location offers significant financial benefits. The flat income tax rate of 20% is notably advantageous compared to the UK, and a generous public sector pension scheme is provided, not constrained by UK lifetime or annual contribution limits. The consultant contract closely mirrors the UK model but offers higher incremental levels starting at £110,257 and with a top basic salary of £164,372.

Am I eligible for this role?Am I eligible for this role?

UK based candidates:

  • Experience in Old Age Psychiatry
  • Specialist Registration or locum Consultant Experience
EEA candidates: 
  • Experience in Old Age Psychiatry
  • European Specialist Qualification
Non-EEA candidates:
  • MRCPsych
  • Consultant experience in Old Age Psychiatry
110,257 - 164,372

We are looking to recruit a Consultant Psychiatrist to a General Adult role in the Channel Islands, a UK territory sitting off the coast of France and just a 1 hour flight from London. This job presents a great opportunity to advance your medical career in the UK.

The health service, separate from the NHS, is an integrated, taxation-funded system, free at the point of delivery, managed by the Health and Community Services Department on the island. Key benefits of working there are higher salaries than the NHS, lower taxes and sunnier weather. 

Consultant Pay range - £110,257 to £164,372
Single rate of tax - 20%

General Adult Psychiatry Department & Team

The inpatient service features 17 adult acute beds, including an extra-care area, for individuals aged 18 to 65 with severe mental illness requiring admission. The goal is to promote recovery and well-being, helping service users achieve their potential. The service caters to a diverse population with complex needs. The multidisciplinary inpatient team includes doctors (two part-time consultants, staff grade/clinical fellow, and F2), a clinical psychologist, nurses, a social worker, occupational therapists, an art therapist, healthcare assistants, and administrative staff.

The Home Treatment Team functions as a step-up, step-down service to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and facilitate early discharge. They attend ward reviews, support patients on leave, and assist with discharge planning, also gatekeeping inpatient beds. The team includes two part-time consultants, a 0.5 FTE team manager, two FTE senior practitioners, 5.5 FTE nurse practitioners, one FTE social worker, three FTE senior HCAs, and one FTE occupational therapist. Covering all adult ages, there is an arrangement with an Older Adult Consultant for additional support if needed.

Continued Professional Development

This position offers further training and accreditation within psychiatry, including CESR Portfolio Pathway support, access to specialty training, and the opportunity to develop sub-specialist interests. The post holder will have ample opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and experience through attendance at relevant courses, conferences, and locally organized CME events. The organization supports Continuing Medical Education with time and financial support, offering study leave of 30 days in three years and an annual study leave allowance. Regular case discussions, teaching sessions, and MDT supervision ensure ongoing professional development, meeting the Royal College of Psychiatrists\' CPD requirements.

Living in the Area

Living in this location offers significant financial benefits. The flat income tax rate of 20% is notably advantageous compared to the UK, and a generous public sector pension scheme is provided, not constrained by UK lifetime or annual contribution limits. The consultant contract closely mirrors the UK model but offers higher incremental levels starting at £110,257 and with a top basic salary of £164,372.

Am I eligible for this role?

UK based candidates:

  • Experience in Adult Psychiatry
  • Specialist Registration or locum Consultant Experience

EEA candidates: 

  • Experience in Adult Psychiatry
  • European Specialist Qualification

Non-EEA candidates:

  • MRCPsych
  • Consultant experience in Adult Psychiatry
110,257 - 164,372
We are looking to recruit a Consultant Psychiatrist to a Child & Adolescent  role in the Channel Islands, a UK territory sitting off the coast of France and just a 1 hour flight from London. This job presents a great opportunity to advance your medical career in the UK.

The health service, separate from the NHS, is an integrated, taxation-funded system, free at the point of delivery, managed by the Health and Community Services Department on the island. Key benefits of working there are higher salaries than the NHS, lower taxes and sunnier weather.

Consultant Pay range - £110,257 to £164,372
Single rate of tax - 20%.

The post holder will be expected to take on the full range of duties including the routine and emergency diagnosis and management of children and young people with significant mental health problems (up to the age of 18), the support of other team members, and providing consultation and advice to other agencies. Successful applicants will be encouraged to develop a special interest and take a clinical lead in one of the following areas: Eating Disorders, Crisis Intervention, Neurodevelopmental Disorders, or Transition.

The Health Service

Working for this service is professionally rewarding, offering high-quality, patient-centered care. Their clinicians lead in developing and managing services, supported by strong links with UK specialists. With a generous study leave budget, doctors are encouraged to pursue further education. Exciting developments include a new general hospital and a new mental health inpatient unit. They foster strong relationships between mental health, primary, and secondary care, promoting joint learning and teaching in their modern education centre.

Department & Team

The Mental Health Service is staffed by a dedicated multi-disciplinary team, supported by secretarial and administrative staff. The service provides comprehensive assessment, treatment, and therapeutic interventions for a wide range of developmental, behavioral, emotional, and psychiatric issues in children and young people up to their 18th birthday.

Currently, CAMHS manages 1,627 open cases. In 2022, 926 new referrals were received, with 752 new referrals to date in 2023. The current locum postholder\'s caseload is approximately 90, with most cases having an allocated care coordinator. While most new assessments are conducted by other members of the multi-disciplinary team, some will require an initial medical assessment. On average, there are 1-2 new assessments and 15-20 follow-up appointments per week, depending on case complexity and other commitments.

Continued Professional Development

The health service offers further training & accreditation within psychiatry, including CESR Portfolio Pathway Support, access to specialty training, and the opportunity to develop sub-specialist interest. The post holder will have ample opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and experience through attendance at relevant courses, conferences, and locally organized CME events. Health & Community Services supports Continuing Medical Education with time and financial support, offering study leave of 30 days in 3 years, and an annual study leave allowance. Regular case discussions, teaching sessions, and MDT supervision ensure ongoing professional development, meeting the Royal College of Psychiatrists\' CPD requirements.

Living in the Area

Living in this location offers significant financial benefits. The flat income tax rate of 20% is notably advantageous compared to the UK, and a generous public sector pension scheme is provided, not constrained by UK lifetime or annual contribution limits. The consultant contract closely mirrors the UK model but offers higher incremental levels starting at £110,257 and with a top basic salary of £164,372.

Am I eligible for this role?

UK based candidates:
  • Experience in Child & Adolescent  Psychiatry
  • Specialist Registration or locum Consultant Experience
EEA candidates: 
  • Experience in Child & Adolescent  Psychiatry
  • European Specialist Qualification
Non-EEA candidates:
  • MRCPsych
  • Consultant experience in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
52,530 - 82,400

A prime opportunity awaits a dedicated Specialty Doctor in Psychiatry to join the Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team (CRHTT) for a NHS job in the UK, with CESR support. Located at Eaglestone Health Centre on Milton Keynes Hospital Campus, you\'ll provide top-tier assessment, consultation, and treatment for individuals in mental health crises, with office space and administrative support.

As part of a medical team with a Consultant Psychiatrist and Trainee Doctor, you\'ll demonstrate motivation, energy, and a fervent commitment to exceptional patient care. Strong teamwork, organizational skills, initiative, effective communication, and empathy are key. Operated by an NHS Foundation Trust that is known for excellence locally, nationally, and internationally, this role offers professional growth opportunities for EU-trained specialists and experienced IMGs seeking CESR completion.

What is the NHS Foundation Trust like?

Established in 2002 through the merger of several trusts, this NHS Foundation Trust is among the UK\'s largest. With about 7,000 staff, they serve a third of London\'s population and extend services to areas like Milton Keynes, Kent, Surrey, and Hampshire.

Their focus is on delivering patient-centered, safe, and effective care across various settings, from hospitals to community clinics and even patients\' homes. They emphasize community-based services, aligning with the NHS\'s modernization goals. They prioritize recruiting exceptional individuals who support patients and colleagues alike, offering opportunities for career development. The role entails participating in clinical supervision sessions with the team\'s consultant psychiatrist.

What is the Department & Team like?

The Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Team (CRHTT) comprises a multi-disciplinary group of mental health professionals delivering a 7-day service for individuals in acute psychiatric crises. They offer intensive community-based interventions as an alternative to hospitalization and support early discharge, facilitating the transition back to the community. The team triages referrals, deciding on home treatment or admission, aiming to provide less restrictive alternatives to hospitalization when feasible.

The Team is composed of:

  • 1.0 wte Consultant Psychiatrist
  • 1.0 wte Specialty Doctor
  • 1.0 wte Core Trainee / equivalent
  • 1.0 wte Team Manager
  • 3.0 wte Senior Practitioner Band 7
  • 14.5 wte Mental Health Practitioner Band 6
  • 2.6 wte Occupational Therapist Band 6
  • 2 wte Therapy Support Staff Band 4
  • 6.6 wte Support Worker Band 3
  • 3 wte Medical Secretary and Team Administrator Band 4

The post holder is expected to make an assessment, diagnosis, formulation of risks and development of a management plan for new referrals, re-referrals and patients under the care of the team. The post holder is expected to identify need for referrals to other services such as referrals for psychological interventions and review treatment plans and risk assessments of patients in the service.

Career Development & Opportunities Available

There is real opportunity to progress through CESR at pace at this trust, with a strong desire for newly-qualified consultants to develop their specialty areas of interest and undertake in various cancer trials and research projects where possible. Research is encouraged here, particularly when this is appropriate to professional development and to the service development of the department. 

If you are a new consultant you will receive mentoring and support from medical leads as well as access to a large peer group of enthusiastic and high-caliber Consultants. 

Life in South East

South East, a vibrant urban area in Buckinghamshire, offers a blend of city amenities and rural charm. Residents enjoy scenic parks & perfect for outdoor activities. The area boasts excellent schools and universities. Transportation links are convenient, with easy access to major cities like London and Birmingham via train and nearby airports like Luton and Birmingham. Housing options range from modern apartments in the city center to spacious suburban homes, catering to diverse preferences and lifestyles.

Am I eligible for this role?
UK based candidates:

  • Experience in General Adult Psychiatry - Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team
EEA candidates: 
  • Experience in General Adult Psychiatry - Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team
Non-EEA candidates:
  • MRCPsych
  • Experience in General Adult Psychiatry - Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team

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