1. What is your name, speciality, grade and what hospital do you work at?
Hi - My full name is Olusegun Olusanya. I am an ST5 in Intensive Care Medicine, working at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.
2. What country did you relocate from?
I moved from Nigeria in 1995.
3. Would you share with us your personal mission as a doctor?
To be a good one! In my mind this means being a kind, compassionate human being.
4. At what point in your career did you decide you wanted to relocate to the UK? What were your motivations for wanting to do so?
I didn’t really decide to relocate myself- it was a family decision. Most of my family had attended university overseas; it was just my turn!
5. How did you find studying for medicine in the UK?
I went to Southampton University; it was wonderful studying near the coast. As I grew up near a coast myself, it probably reminded me of home.
I found medical school a bit like bootcamp- you had to learn to speak, think and act in a certain way that was far removed from my normal life. I’m still not 100% acclimatised to medical culture, and may well never be.
I found ways to cope- humour being top. I had excellent support from friends and family while studying, and had lots of opportunities to travel and do fun things.
I spent my non-medical time learning skills – in particular music, martial arts, and gymnastics.
6. How long did it take you to relocate, how difficult did you find the process, and do you recommend it to other IMGs?
As I started off in the UK doing A levels first, then applying to medical school, I don’t think my process was as onerous as others. The big challenge was the high competition ratio for international medical school places- that’s not something to be taken lightly, and many people I know applying then were disappointed.
Acclimatisation was easy in some respects – Nigeria is a former English colony, English is our national language, and I had visited the UK many times before; at the same time there were some culture shocks…particularly the drinking culture as an undergraduate. While I can understand it now, I never got into it.
7. Is there anything you would have liked to have known before deciding to relocate? And now once you live in the UK?
How rare black people are in medicine, especially in certain specialties. I may have moved to America instead, if I had known how few black people there are at the top; I think the glass ceiling still exists over there mind.
How long training would be.
Cricket and rugby rules (it allows you to make great small talk).
Thoughts on the UK
8. For you, what are the key benefits of living in the UK?
Healthcare. I don’t have to worry about being bankrupt for the sake of getting good healthcare.
Safety. I can walk around at night without feeling like I’m going to get robbed.
Education. Schools are good.
9. How do you feel you settled in your chosen location within the UK?
We live in a nice neighbourhood surrounded by nice people. There have been some challenges in terms of making local friends, as many of our friends aren’t local.
Most of our family is still in Nigeria, and that Is a struggle at times. We miss them a lot.
10. If you relocated with family, how did they settle into the UK?
11. What was your experience working within FY1 and FY2? Do you have any advice for other IMGs due to start FY2 in the UK?
I really enjoyed my housejobs (I was the last of the “old style”.) They are a chance to get experience in a very supported environment.
My advice to IMGs would be to remember that medicine is a team sport. Everyone- from the cleaner to the ward sister to the physio- has a role that is just as important as yours. If you aim to function as part of a team, rather than “the doctor”, you will achieve much.
12. How did you feel on your first day of working within the NHS, your first week, month and then how do you feel now compared to when you first started?
On my first day I felt thrilled and terrified to be part of this amazing complex machine. I am a little bit more jaded than I was back in 2004, but that feeling mostly remains.
13. How would you describe the support you received from your hospital after starting your new position?
It was… variable.
There were wonderful aspects- the registrars and SHOs were very nice, I had some lovely bosses, and the nursing staff were great. On the other hand, I did witness- and receive- some bullying, and the paperwork was at times overwhelming.
I think one should be prepared to deal with all kinds of people, and be prepared for a system that can be very inflexible at time.
14. What is your opinion on the NHS? Working within it and as a patient receiving care?
The NHS is one of the most amazing things that has ever been invented. It is stretched beyond imagining yet still delivers care to those who need it.
15. If you are in a training post, how did you find the application process? Were you selected on your first application? What are your thoughts?
Applications are very sterile now. It’s all via an automated system that allocates “points” based on achievements on your CV. This is a lot more fair than the old ways, of being based on “who you knew”.
The main thing here is that if you know what your job requires, you can steer your CV in that direction early. One could argue that this means that CV points are easy to “game”…
16. What is a typical day when working within Intensive Care? ST5?
The intensive care unit is where all the sickest patients in the hospital are. They are usually on some kind of support (ventilation, inotropes, renal replacement, etc).
You start bright and early with a handover from the night team. Your morning is spent doing a ward round; then your afternoon is full of meetings (family, microbiology, outside consults) and procedures such as central lines or chest drains.
You also get outside consult requests for sick patients, and in some hospitals you are part of the cardiac arrest team.
The family meetings are really important, and can be very challenging, as their loved ones are very sick. About a quarter of patients we admit will die, and this can be hard to deal with.
As an ST5 I am on the “senior” tier of registrars, so I spend some of my time supervising my junior colleagues.
17. Do you have any advice for any other junior doctors who want to pursue a career in Intensive Care Medicine or any advice for junior doctors looking to secure an NHS post in general?
Learn compassion- both to yourself and others. It is by far the most important quality that will help both you and your patients.
Do not sacrifice your family for your career. Your career will end, your family will not.
18. What are your hopes and plans for the future?
To be a good doctor for as long as I can.
To be surrounded by people I love, and who love me in return.
To bring out the best in those people around me.
If you are an international doctor who needs support relocating to the UK and joining the NHS, send your CV to [email protected] and we can support you on your journey today.
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