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Q&A with Dr Mohanakrishnan, Consultant Elderly Care Medicine: joining the NHS during Covid-19
Hello Dr Mohanakrishnan! Could you please start by introducing yourself? Your grade, specialty and country you are relocating from?
Hello. I am Sathish from India, joined Medway Maritime Hospital as a Consultant Geriatrician.
What are your reasons for wanting to relocate to the UK and joining the NHS?
To me, the NHS is a great organisation. In fact, this isn’t my first time working for the NHS as I relocated to the UK back in 2003. I successfully completed my training and then I relocated back to India in 2008. However, I made many trips back to the UK in order to refresh my Geriatric skills as there is no better place to practice geriatrics other than the NHS.
What was your motivation to be a doctor and joining the NHS?
Being a doctor is a great feeling. During my time at school none of my family were doctors and my parents truly wanted me to be one. For this reason, I honoured their wish and I have no regrets at all!
Why did you choose to specialise in Geriatrics?
When I moved into the UK in 2003, I made the decision to obtain MRCP. During this time, Geriatrics was a relatively new specialty for me and after I spend a few months on the ward – I realised it was extremely appealing and satisfying caring for elderly patients. Since this decision, I have not looked back.
What was your experience of obtaining MRCP?
MRCP is an extremely tough exam and I was very proud of myself the moment I received my certificate at the 500-year-old Royal College of Physicians, London in 2007.
MRCP is a very clinical exam and so, I never took any time off work to study. That being said, I did find the time to study every single day after work. To be honest, I did struggle with the final part (PACES) and it took me three attempts to pass. But what matters most is that I did pass and not the number of times it took me. The NHS hospital I was working at, at the time, (Tyrone County Hospital, Omagh and Chase Farm Hospital, London) were very helpful for my preparation. They even provided some educational funding for various courses. I am always grateful for my patients who consented for clinical examination to support my learning.
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What was your experience of obtaining GMC Registration?
Getting GMC Registration (2003) wasn’t easy for an overseas doctor back in 2003. Things are lot easier nowadays.
I originally came on a Visit Visa to sit my PLAB exam, however, you’re not allowed to work despite being permitted to live in the UK for six months. At the time, the GMC wouldn’t register me without securing a job within the NHS and so, that meant I needed to change my visa type. It was a very difficult time, but I still remember the doctor that employed me at Barnsley District General Hospital (Dr Richard Shephard) who gave me my breakthrough, and I will always be grateful.
Do you have any advice for junior doctors looking to become a Consultant Geriatrics?
Geriatrics is one of the largest specialities in the UK, and there will always be a demand for Geriatricians. It will never be a boring field. Every single patient is different, and the ‘one hat fit all’ doesn’t apply in geriatrics. Common sense plays a major role than clinical guidelines. A Geriatric team usually has a consultant, registrar, CMT/ SHO, FY1, Ward Nurse, Frailty specialist nurse, Physiotherapist, Occupational therapist, Social worker, Dietitian, SALT nurse. NHS has all of them, and gives you the best example of team work.
When Covid 19 hit the world, did it change your thoughts on moving to the UK?
As we know, Covid 19 is here to stay for a long period of time. As this is a pandemic, no country is immune. Considering the pluses and minuses, I made this informed choice of returning to the NHS at this point in time and the virus didn’t deter me from moving over.
How did you make the most of your quarantine period when you arrived in the UK?
During my two-week self-isolation, I was able to do some online mandatory modules as part of the induction. There was free WiFi and a big TV in the room – so, this made my stay a lot easier. As we all know, the UK Government advised quarantine for a reason, it’s for our wellbeing, and that of our patients. It’s important that we strictly abide by the quarantine laws. I left the premises only on the 15th day. It wasn’t easy, but definitely achievable with the right mind-set.
ID Medical has been very helpful throughout the entire process. They even found a local volunteer to do some shopping for me. I am ever grateful to this gentleman, (Mr. Neal) who brought me all of my essentials!
What are the differences between working in an Indian healthcare setting and joining the NHS?
India is my home country and she has done remarkably well since her independence (1947). With the amount of population she has, no other nation can ever match her growth in this limited time period. I am always a proud Indian. As I said earlier, the NHS is a great place to work. I do not want to compare joining the NHS and working in corporate hospitals in India. They are extremely different and in no way comparable. The point I would like to stress here is that, if you do come from a developing world, it’s important that you take your skills back (at some point), and help your home country. I did exactly that. I was instrumental in establishing Geriatrics in many hospitals in India.
What do you have planned for the future?
With regards to the future, I never look too far ahead. We all know how Covid unexpectedly turned our worlds upside down. I just take one day at a time. I always thank God for having given me this wonderful life.
If you were not a doctor, what career would you have chosen?
I simply don’t look back in life (unless I can learn lessons from it). Just live in the present, and be optimistic for a better future.
What was your experience with ID Medical?
ID Medical is an amazing organisation! They are very professional in their approach. I have been with them since 2015. They listen to your needs and try to get the best job position for you. They were particularly helpful during my quarantine. As a matter of fact, I have spoken to so many ID Medical staff but I haven’t met any of them till date – I am very much looking forward to meet them all. Maybe after this Covid 19 crisis!!!