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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 receiving full 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 Francesco Spadaro, a brilliant consultant psychiatrist who relocated to the UK from Italy. Francesco has been living and working in the UK after receiving full GMC with specialist registration. He is now working in the NHS at Central and North West London 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 Francesco Spadaro? My work is my passion. I really love the clinical aspect of it, especially talking with patients. I enjoy trying to help my patients as much as I can and giving them a hope in trying to improve their clinical condition. No matter who they are, where they come from, or how serious is their disorder may be. At the same time, studying and looking at how the mind works has always been such an important part of my life. What motivated you to move to the UK? I was very keen to move to the UK. London is such a special place and completely unique in my opinion. The city is so open and inclusive and really encourages you to get involved in so many ways. This was a really big motivating factor for me. Was Brexit an issue for you at all? It was definitely something to consider, but I was lucky enough to be able to anticipate my leave at my previous job in order to avoid any potential Brexit complications. How did you find a general adult psychiatry job within the NHS? I personally found IMG Connect to be a great help on this. The team really encouraged me with lots of advice and suggestions on how I could tailor my CV to specific roles I was applying to. Most importantly, they really listened and took into consideration all of my needs and difficulties. 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! Tell us about a day in the life of an international General Adult Psychiatrist. I work in a secondary care, Community Services facility. We work in teams which cover several boroughs and are led by a senior practitioner, ans supported by health professionals with a range of expertise: nurses, social workers, support workers, psychologists and NGO volunteers. We start each day with an MDT (multi-disciplinary team meeting) where we discuss our first assessments, feedback and cases with cause for concern. The great thing about these meetings is that we're all equally involved - everyone participates, sharing knowledge specific to their experience and role. Consultants are involved in the most severe cases. They will also have slots where they will supervise trainee GPs and junior doctors. We also have lots of meetings throughout the week: scientific meetings, journal clubs and meetings concerning the organisation. Sometimes it feels like there are too many meetings, but I'm still getting used to the differences between the UK and Italian healthcare systems. Tell us about your journey to the UK... It was really quick! Once I'd passed had my interview and been offered the job, I just organised my affairs and hopped on the plane. Of course COVID-19 complicated things, but that was the case for everyone in almost every country at the time. What has been your experience working with IMG Connect? My experience with IMG Connect has been excellent. They carefully listened to my needs and requests and were always able to offer me appropriate jobs along my requests. They also prepared me in coping with any type of difficulties I would face in regards to relocation to London and my new role in the NHS. They were such a solid presence throughout this process for me and were always there to offer support, both before I had the job and afterwards. Within the IMG Connect team, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ruaihdri MacKay in particular, who is an excellent professional recruitment consultant. He was a wealth of guidance, advice and support for me during, and also after, my entire recruitment and relocation. He showed what I consider a unique commitment, dedication and foresight and completely kept me at ease with his justified optimism and knowlegde of the steps in my journey. I was really lucky to have him on my side. How are you settling into life in the UK? Things were a little difficult to begin with due to the COVID-19 restrictions, but things have really eased and I'm enjoying living here. What’s next for you now that you’re working in the UK? At the moment I'm still settling in, learning a lot about the UK's system and procedures. Once things have settled a little more for me, I'd like to see whether I can incorporate some teaching or lecturing work into my career path in the UK. What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in moving to the UK? One of the challenges I've faced has been finding really affordable housing, but this was expected in moving to such a large and popular city as London. Have you experienced any culture shocks living in the UK? I wouldn't consider it so much of a cultural shock, instead I'm pleasantly surprised by the opportunity to work with such a diverse range of people. It really is a special experience that connects you to cultures and people all over the world. What have you missed about Italy the most? Most of all, I miss the lifelong friends I've made in Italy. Do you have any tips or advice for international doctors who want to move to the UK? I would just say, do it. Take a chance and live the experience! 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.
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 an 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.
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.
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. A specialty doctor’s journey to the UK When I was first contacted by Marcus at IMG Connect about an NHS general medicine specialty doctor job opportunity at Scarborough General Hospital, I was a little nervous about where to start, and what lay ahead. We were moving from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which is a very lively city, and I was going to quit my permanent job to relocate to the UK. I have always been keen to work for the NHS, but I wasn’t sure what it’d be like to start my first NHS job in a small coastal town. What would the hospital be like? How would I be treated? Would it be wet and dark like you hear about online? Would the hospital be supportive in my career progression, or would I be simply thrown into the wards to struggle? As an ethnic Muslim minority, would we struggle to find Asian, vegetarian and Halal foods and mosques? All these questions were going through my mind, and after working through these together with Marcus and the team at IMG Connect, and with only a few more fears remaining, I decided to take up the challenge and proceed. "Ruaidhri put in so much effort to turn this impossible task into reality for me." During my recruitment process, the biggest challenge was getting my mother’s visa. This was absolutely crucial for me as my mother has always lived with us and is such an important member of our household. We have also been her primary carers. Ruaidhri at IMG Connect put in so much effort to turn this impossible task into reality for me. During the process, it was a real team effort from IMG, and I’m also thankful to the MP for Scarborough and Whitby who responded to Ruaidhri’s request and supported our efforts in this matter. Needless to say, my mother is now very happy and settled into life in Scarborough! The hospital was also very supportive and did not push me to start by any given date. They were very accommodating and gave me ample time to sort out my relocation process. While some of the other international doctors I knew were struggling to travel before the deadlines set by their NHS trusts, I never felt this pressure. I was supported throughout, knew where to turn for answers and ultimately it was such a big relief that my mother was able to come with us. When we arrived at London Heathrow airport, the UK was in a lockdown due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases. We had to quarantine on our arrival, and during this time, we were very well taken care of. Our groceries were paid for, and Ruaidhri checked in with us often to see how we were and if we ever needed anything. All my queries were promptly answered by Ruaidhri and the hospital’s recruitment team. The very next working day after our arrival in the UK, I received an email from the medical recruitment team at Scarborough General Hospital, and the process for opening my bank account was promptly initiated. I know a number of people who have also struggled with opening their first bank account in the UK, however mine was just set up for me by the recruitment team, who put me in touch with the bank representative. All I had to do was visit the branch for 15 minutes for an ID check once our quarantine had finished and everything was set up! At work, I found everybody to be very helpful. I received a tremendous amount of help as I struggled to get used to the new system. Whenever I got stuck somewhere, there was always someone to offer a helping hand by my side. Initially we struggled with accommodation - finding suitable housing in Scarborough was challenging, especially when we had no previous tenancy history in the UK. However, with some help we were able to get our first accommodation which was a lovely fully furnished apartment. We enjoyed our stay there for a month before moving to a long-term let property. There are two types of institutions, I believe: those that hire people, use them and lose them, and those that hire people, explore their interests and goals, help them progress in their careers as per their interests and preferences, and turn them into effective and happy members of staff. Scarborough Hospital is definitely the latter. Very soon after I started, my consultant sat with me and discussed my goals and personal development plan. I had always been interested in teaching, so he presented me with a number of teaching opportunities in the area. I received great support from him in my career development and with his support, I was appointed an Honorary Senior Lecturer at Hull York Medical School within only 2 months of my joining. Not only this, but he assured me of his full support in my career progression, which is very encouraging for me. When I meet other IMG doctors in the hospital, the thing that is quite noticeable among them is a great deal of professional satisfaction, no matter what grade they are working at. Scarborough Hospital has a very friendly, multicultural environment and people work together with mutual respect and support for one another. Scarborough Hospital implements and fully supports the SAS charter of NHS and provides every possible opportunity to SAS doctors for their career progression and growth. As a town, Scarborough is a lovely place to live in. It’s beautiful, peaceful, lively and even at night, the streets are very well lit, and the town is not dark or dead at all. It has all the amenities to cater for a variety of ethnic backgrounds, and we faced NO difficulty whatsoever at finding some Asian, vegetarian and Halal food to eat. We also love Scarborough’s local fish ‘n’ chips! Scarborough has plenty of entertainment options for children. A forest on one side, seacoast on the other. Boating, hiking, cycling, parks, children’s train ride, the sea life aquarium, and castles with so much more to explore. The town also has an Islamic centre where prayers are regularly offered. At the hospital, there are separate prayer rooms for both males and females, as well as a Chapel where Friday prayers are offered. I was very impressed when I first saw the Chapel being offered for prayers, which is a great gesture of inter-faith harmony at the hospital. "I am immensely thankful to Marcus and Ruaidhri" I am glad that I made the decision to come to Scarborough. It is a wonderful place to live, and people are genuinely nice and welcoming. Scarborough General Hospital is an excellent place to work. We got settled here very quickly and we have fallen in love with this place. My family and I are enjoy living here and have started to consider Scarborough our new home. I am immensely thankful to Marcus and Ruaidhri at IMG connect and everyone else who played a role in my recruitment, relocation, and induction processes. I really appreciate all their efforts to make the entire process as swift and smooth as possible for us – they gave me the confidence to move to the UK with my family to work as a general medicine specialty doctor in the NHS. 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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