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Q&A with Dr Leeza, ST3 Acute Medicine: joining the NHS during Covid-19

Sep 8, 2020.

Hello Dr Leeza! Could you please start by introducing yourself? Your grade, specialty and country you are relocating from?

Hi! My name is Dr Leeza and I am relocating from Oman to join North Cumbria University Hospital as an ST3 Acute Medicine.

What were your motivations to wanting to become a doctor?

My desire for becoming a doctor started from my childhood. Initially, it was always my parents’ dream for me to become a doctor, especially as I was there first child. When I started working towards it, it soon became my dream…

I quickly learnt that an opportunity to serve humanity is unique and I loved having the ability to touch people’s lives.

Why did you choose to specialise in Acute Medicine?

When I finished my primary medical qualification and began my rotations, I quickly learnt that Medicine was the specialty I wanted to pursue. I was surrounded by very inspirational professors and senior doctors within the specialty.

The reason why I enjoy the specialty specifically is because I thoroughly enjoy problem solving. In medicine, patients’ symptoms are very similar, however, their diagnosis can be extremely different – and so, you have to look at a variety of different factors before you get to the final diagnosis.

I also knew that Surgery wasn’t for me because I am not very delicate haha!

What were you reasons for wanting to relocate to the UK and join the NHS?

Unfortunately in Oman, unless you are a native, it is extremely difficult to progress onto Consultant level. It’s my dream to become a Consultant and so, that is why I opted to obtain MRCP and work towards becoming a UK Consultant.

How was your experience obtaining your GMC Registration?

I chose MRCP as my pathway to GMC Registration and I must admit, I absolutely loved studying for my exams. The qualification gave me an insight into what it’s like to practice medicine in the UK, it inspired me and helped me keep motivated towards my ultimate goal of becoming a UK Consultant.

After I had obtained MRCP, the rest of my GMC Registration went extremely smoothly for two reasons. Firstly, I found the guidance on the GMC website very easy to understand and so, you can’t get confused or get anything wrong. Secondly, I had a great network of family and friends around me to ask questions.

How long did it take you to obtain your NHS job in acute medicine?

I had a bit of a unique situation because I wanted to relocate to the UK with my husband who is also a doctor. We wanted to work in the same department and hospital, which made the job search a little bit longer than normal.

In the end, it took around 8-9 months for us both to secure a role in the same department and hospital! We are very pleased that we waited and this was all thanks to the hard work of Amie at ID Medical. Amie kept going until she met our needs and we couldn’t thank her enough.

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When the pandemic started, did this change your thoughts on moving to the UK?

No. As doctors, we are prepared the unexpected to happen and so, when Covid 19 hit the world it didn’t change our opinion on coming to the UK and joining the NHS – because we are doctors and we want to save people’s lives.

Did you experience any delays in reaching the UK due to the pandemic?

Unfortunately, we did…

We were offered our roles back in February 2020 and we were due to join the trust at the end of April. At the time, Oman was not affected by the virus. As part of our visa application, we needed to return back to Bangladesh, our home country to obtain some documents. Little did we know we would get stuck in Bangladesh due to the closure of borders… we were in Bangladesh from March to June! In the end, the Ministry of Health in Oman flew us back on a special flight.

At that point, we had to quarantine for two-weeks and then we could then apply for our Tier 2 visa (now known as the UK Health and Care Visa), which took 5 weeks to come because of Eid celebrations.

Finally, we can say we are here in the UK – once again, self-isolating for two-weeks and very much looking forwards to joining our trust and starting our new life in the UK.

Do you have any advice for junior doctors looking to take the same journey as you?

Yes… I would suggest to junior doctors to work out what your career goal is before you make a decision. Be patient, take some time and truly consider what specialty you want to do as this will make studying for the Royal College Qualification easier and your journey to the UK a lot easier.

My ultimate piece of advice is to use an agency to support you on your journey because, my husband and I could not have done it without Amie and Phoebe from ID Medical. Even though we had extreme delays on our relocation period, they were always giving us the information ahead of time, we never needed to ask any questions and we always knew we were supported. So, by having a support system can change everything.

During your two-week quarantine period in the UK, what will you do with your time?

This a great to time to rest and recuperate before my new role within the NHS. In fact, it’s posed as a great opportunity to get organised for our new life! We have been in contact with the bank, estate agents to secure a new home and employment documentation.

We have to again, thank Phoebe at this stage as she has been very helpful in giving us the right information and guidance.

What are you most excited about for the future?

The NHS is the number one healthcare system in the entire world and I am very proud that I have secured a job within the system, with my husband.

I am most looking forwards to becoming a highly skilled doctor with access to the best technology and working alongside those with amazing expertise.

My long-term goal is to become a UK Consultant and so, I need to decide whether I decide to subspecialise or keep working within Acute Medicine. Regardless, I am definitely going to apply for an NHS training post!

Finally, would you recommend ID Medical?

Absolutely! I have recommended ID Medical to all of my friends because to be honest, we couldn’t have done it without them. As I said before, I was unique in that I needed to work alongside my husband and not all department had two vacancies and so, ID Medical kept working hard until they found us both a role, together.

Not only that, but they supported us every step of the way. From organising our visa documents to organising taxi’s from the airport to our accommodation – they were always there telling us the best options, cheapest options and wanted it to go very smoothly for us – and that it did.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, ID Medical!

Thank you Dr Leeza! We wish you all the best with your new life in the UK and we will be here for anything you may need!