Experiences fresh off the boat
Publication date: 27 July 2022
They say life is about choices and options.
The decision to move to UK was impulsive, to say the least. It was an option to consider, amongst others, such as Australia, Singapore and Canada. What attracted me was my penchant for European culture and the fantastic work-life balance that came as a strong selling point. It may be relevant to say that I was a full-time anaesthetist working as a consultant over the past 20 odd years. Not that I was overly stressed or burnt out but the fact that getting into GP training and securing a substantive job was easier in terms of time.
General practice was a vague concept in my head as we don’t have trained and streamlined similar jobs back home in India. I decided to come with an open mind and prepared for several hiccups. And hiccups there were many.
Getting used to the weather
Cumbria is breathtakingly beautiful with lovely people, but it was extremely socially isolating for me. Covid-19 made the situation worse as I was unable to travel to meet friends/ family. But work kept me sane due to the supportive and inclusive culture.
The other overwhelming aspects were getting used to the weather, the food, the traffic and securing my UK driving licence, I’m now comfortable with fell walking on a windy wet day which seemed a ridiculous concept 3 years ago.
The NHS system was completely new but very logical and well signposted by colleagues. A few weeks of heartache but I did come out of it unscathed. Training per se was a new concept - not just medically but also gaining a basic understanding of portfolio and reflective learning. Getting used to the e-portfolio was a bit of an uphill task!
I started work in the acute medical ward of a fairly busy hospital in rural Cumbria. However, the more relevant and important issues were the understanding of teamwork, the multi-disciplinary team (MDT), respecting the lack of hierarchy at workplace, especially in primary care. It was like everyone has everyone’s back. It is respectful and sensible. Although these were alien social concepts to me at first, I have gained considerable understanding of them and how useful they are in day-to-day practice.
I’m in total awe of this system. Whenever I read anything negative in the media, I say to myself - they have no idea of the actual gargantuan task being accomplished every single day despite the paucity of resources.
My personal life has taken an unexpected turn as well. Life may well be about destiny.
About the writer
Dr Ipsita Guha is a GPST3 in Cumbria.