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Did you know that here at Athona we also specialise in permanent recruitment? Whilst we started back in 2003 as a locum agency, we soon started to support the same clients fill their permanent roles – with our mental health team being one of the best within their industry.
Not only do they support UK based psychiatrists find a substantive role, but they will also go above and beyond to support psychiatry doctors relocate from overseas to find the perfect job for them here in the UK. From NHS jobs to working in the private sector, our permanent team have a number of opportunities covering all grades and specialties.
Placed into a permanent position with an NHS Trust in the East Midlands nearly three years ago, we recently spoke with Dr S to discuss how he found the process of working with Jade our experienced permanent recruiter, how he found settling into the UK and some tips and advice for anyone else looking to make the move.
What made you decide to move to the UK for work?
I moved to the UK to pursue my interest in becoming a child psychiatrist. I had just completed my general psychiatry training in Nigeria and was very keen to build my career further in this subs-specialty. The opportunity for a structured training as a child psychiatrist was non-existent in Nigeria. So, compared to the other high-income countries, the UK system had the easiest pathway for achieving this career goal.
To help you relocate to the UK you decided to use an agency, what made you decide to use this route instead of finding a job by yourself?
The convenience of using an agency was what appealed to me most. When I first spoke to Jade I told her what my preferences were and that helped with the types of available offers she brought back to me to consider. Using an agency saved me a lot of time and effort that I would have had to of put into doing my own online job searches on platforms like NHS Jobs.
How did you first come about finding Athona?
Athona was suggested to me by a friend who had previously been supported by them in getting a UK job. I found their service very helpful, all the way from the job search to eventually them helping me settle in the UK.
How did Jade support your through the whole relocation process?
I found Jade to be very helpful throughout the process. She was very personal in her approach and was very supportive in providing the link with my now employer. Jade negotiated my salary on my behalf after I initially let her know what my expectations were. Jade has also remained in touch with me ever since I came to the UK and continually checked to see how well I was settling in.
To begin the process of moving to the UK, you had to undertake IELTS and PLAB exams – what was your experience like with these?
I found the IELTS exam quite a straightforward process for me. This was a prerequisite to taking the PLAB exams, which thankfully was also straightforward. However, these exams are capital intensive and the reality that like any other exam they can be passed or failed, meant that there was greater internal pressure to do everything possible to pass them. I have friends who have had to take these exams a few more times, and so I can imagine how frustrating this can be.
As you were based in Nigeria when you began your job search some of your interviews were conducted over Zoom, how did you find this?
I did several interviews via Zoom and it was generally a useful experience. I was a bit nervous for the first interview but subsequent ones were a lot easier. It didn’t take long to get used to the virtual interviews and I believe the experience eventually came in handy for life as we now know it, post COVID-19.
Once you had secured your substantive position here in the UK, how did you find relocating?
It really helped that I had been in the UK about twice before on brief visits, so, I knew what to expect and what I needed to put in place. For instance, getting an accommodation ready before I arrived was one of the things I had to sort out with HR/medical staffing at my Trust, who directed me to the right team that helped me with this. Also, the medical staffing officer I was assigned to helped me with opening a bank account and with a few other things that made settling in easier.
Jade from Athona also took time out to visit me within the first couple of weeks after I arrived. This helped to reassure that I was cared for and I was not alone in a new country.
What was the first few months like in your new job?
The induction program by the Trust I worked with was very helpful. I was able to get an idea of what is expected of me and my clinical supervisor gradually eased me into doing the clinical work with at least a month of shadowing. He was very approachable, and I knew I could easily discuss any concerns with him. Members of the team I worked with were also very welcoming and I easily felt like I belonged and did not feel lost or out of place at any time. My team were always happy to answer what questions I had or would direct me to the right person/team who could support me with my query.
Now you have lived and worked in the UK for nearly three years, how have you found settling into the UK?
Settling in the UK has been quite seamless for me. Most of the people I met in the first few weeks were generally helpful and supportive. I got a lot of advice about where to shop, what stores had the best deals, how to be on the lookout for sales, preferred companies to use for internet and mobile subscriptions. I also got advice with how to easily get by on buses, taxis, and trains. Looking back now, I can’t really think of someone who was not nice to me at any time.
It’s obviously going really well for you and you’re continuing to progress in your role. How have you found moving into a training post?
Moving into a training post had always been my main priority, as earlier stated. So thankfully, I started a few months ago after completing all the required exams. The transition was smooth for me, in the sense that I was lucky to get a training post in the same Trust that I had been working at as a staff grade doctor. So, whilst my role has now changed, my workplace and my colleagues have pretty much stayed the same. This has meant that I did not have to go through the process of relocating to a new area within the UK.
Finally, what tips and advice would you give to another psychiatry doctor who is looking to relocate to the UK for a permanent job?
Life in the UK can be quite isolative at times, as it is very different from the more communal way of life I was used to in Nigeria. So, it is very important to gradually build a network of friends that you can stay in touch with. It is also important to have other areas of interests outside work that can help you strike a good work and social life balance.