I am Dr. Itticheria Alex Vallakalil (better known as Alex). I work as a Trust Grade Doctor in Psychiatry with Aneurin Bevan University Health Board; Newport.
I am starting my Core Training in Psychiatry with Oxford Health NHS Trust under the Department of Psychiatry; University of Oxford; Thames Valley Deanery this August.
I would do my best to offer comprehensive treatment and consultation to our patients, their families, and the community. I would also like to apply my knowledge to the development and delivery of more effective, evidence-based treatments.
I decided to relocate to the UK six months after my Internship in India.
I decided to relocate when I got feedback that the Psychiatry Training in the U.K is far more disciplined than how it is in my home country healthcare system is.
I did a clinical attachment in Psychiatry with the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust for a period of 2 months directly after my PLAB part 2 examinations. This increased my chances of receiving more interview invitations. I attended most of the interviews in person and received offers for the posts.
It took me twelve months to relocate to the UK.
I did not have any specific difficulties relocating to the UK as my job was on the shortage occupation list.
I wish I had known about the sudden changes in weather (laugh. Ol)
The work culture in the U.K offers a good work-life balance. I am very much impressed by the advanced technologies that exists here. There is a lot to explore in the country side for short get-aways and there are opportunities to travel all around Europe easily whilst in the U.K
I reckon; Wales is a very good place to start the first NHS job. I live in Abergavenny; which is one of the best places to live in Wales. The people here are very friendly and there are lot of things going on. I love Wales for its serenity and its similarity to where I am from (Kerala; India -“Gods Own Country”)
I feel very well supported even as a Non-Trainee Doctor. I had a lot of time to work on my portfolio during my Trust Grade job. I also have weekly supervision sessions with my Consultant.
My Mentor Dr. Raja Adnan Ahmed and my Educational supervisor (RCPsych Tutor) Dr.Ranjini Rao was too kind; helping me to settle in and also secure a core training post .My Consultant Dr. Rahim Safeer also helped me have an understanding of Audits and the abilities to work in a multidisciplinary team. The work colleagues were also very friendly and professional.
I would see NHS as a “Mother” to the patients receiving care and also for all its wonderful staff. Yes; the NHS has always been caring, kind, supportive, empathetic and straight forward.
I feel that there are lot more opportunities to develop in one’s own career in the U.K compared to my home country (especially in Psychiatry). I have always loved working in my home country; but I could not really devote a lot of time for my personal development and lateral interests amidst the busy shifts.
It took me four months to obtain a training post.
There are opportunities to apply into Psychiatry Training without any U.K work experience if your Alternate Form of Foundation competencies are signed off from your home country.
I took time off to understand the system without applying directly. This has definitely given me an upper hand in securing a rotation of my personal choice and also good experience within Psychiatry. It is not necessary that the candidate have prior psychiatry experience before applying; but a strong interest and realistic insight into psychiatry and mental health is very essential.
Mental Health I believe is important as physical health and definitely more thought stimulating. Psychiatry allows me to work on a bio-psycho-social model to do the best for my patients; which is very creative most of the times. I am curious about every individual and I like interacting with patients as a whole; making them the centre of our conversation.
I understand there is a lot of social stigma around Psychiatry and mentally ill patients; which I completely disprove of and I am hoping to make a difference. There are also lot of untouched areas in Psychiatry; which improves the potential for research opportunities
If you are always curious, ready to explore what you don’t know and happy to see people beyond face value; Psychiatry is for you.
I am looking forward to complete my Core Training and then apply for my Speciality Training on Child and Adolescent Mental Health. I would also like to contribute towards Psychiatry on a Public Health perspective.
If you are an international doctor who needs support securing an NHS post, email your CV to [email protected] and we can support you on your journey to the UK.
Are you a member of our Facebook Group IMG Advisor? We publish regular blog posts to aid your relocation, you will receive professional support and get the chance to meet other IMGs.