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For healthcare professionals living and working in the Middle East, it can sometimes be a daunting prospect to relocate to the UK, particularly if they are trying to find a new position. It’s common for some to have fears or reservations about whether potential employers will view their recent experience as transferable to the UK Healthcare market, or if they will be able to adapt to a constantly changing healthcare system – either in the NHS or private sector.
Cavendish Professionals regularly assists professionals returning from the Middle East, and we recently conducted a Q&A with one of our Senior Nursing professionals, Andrea Reed, to provide a real life account of her experiences throughout this process.
What initially motivated you to want to work in the Middle East?
I initially had an urge to travel and see a bit more of the world and then the opportunity came up to go and work over in the UAE. I had heard that the quality of life in both work and on a personal level was good for expats. I managed to source a good job within a Trauma Intensive Care Unit, which was under the management of a western company.
Following your extended period of time there, what motivated you to return to the UK?
After 7 years of being there I had completed what I had set out to achieve in my previous post, which involved the commissioning of a new hospital in Abu Dhabi. Therefore, it was time for a fresh start and I wanted to be closer to my family.
When searching for a new position, what were the different sources you used to find a job in the UK?
I used a variety of sources including the LinkedIn Jobs application and looked into a selection of healthcare recruitment agencies to see what jobs were available in different parts of the UK. I also looked directly at the different NHS trusts in the areas of the UK that I was interested in working and living in.
I understand you are originally from the North East, what prompted you to look at roles in London?
I was prompted to look at positions in London, as it was a city that I had always wanted to live and work in, plus the job opportunities were on a greater scale than those available within somewhere like the North East.
When relocating to the Middle East, it’s common for healthcare professionals to interview via Skype. What application and interview process did you experience when seeking a position back in the UK?
Some jobs I had applied for requested a face to face interview, which at the time was not convenient for me.
For my current post, I was able to have a Skype interview which was great. It lasted approximately an hour and I was able to discuss the interview process with my recruiter the day before, which was very reassuring and supportive.
Upon being offered and accepting a position in the UK, what were the most challenging factors you faced in terms of your relocation?
I think the most challenging factors regarding relocation from the UAE was the closure of all my accounts and finalisation of my life in the Middle East. Fortunately, I gave myself approximately 5 weeks after completing my job there to organise everything in preparation for my relocation.
I used a relocation agency to assist me with finding a new apartment and sourcing the most appropriate area of London to live in, based on my budget and on my new place of work. This was definitely money well spent as it took a lot of pressure off me when I first arrived in the UK.
Now settled and working in London, how does the work/life balance compare to that of the Middle East?
I worked a lot of long hours in the UAE, a basic working week can be up to 48hrs and more, especially within my last role commissioning new departments within a new hospital.
Within the role I have now, I feel I have more time to explore and enjoy London and get to go visit my family in the North East. I am also enjoying the short journey to work. Team dynamics are different in my new post.
An example of this is that the consultants are all very approachable and the MDT work extremely well together, which sometimes can be a little disjointed in the UAE. However, you do learn to adapt around these issues and manage them to the best of your ability.
What do you miss most about working and living in the Middle East?
I miss the warm weather, my friends and my previous staff members, as they were a fantastic professional group of characters.
Naturally, one thing I do miss is the extra money I earned working out there. However, I am very happy to be back in the UK and working in my present role.
Do you feel all the experience, skills and knowledge you gained whilst working in the Middle East, are transferable to working within the current UK healthcare market?
Yes definitely. I gained some amazing managerial skills whilst in the Middle East and learnt a lot about the varying cultures of healthcare professionals that I worked with and cared for.
All skills are transferable no matter where in the world you work, as healthcare is a forever changing and developing profession.
Was the transition of securing employment and relocating back from the Middle East easier than when you first relocated?
Yes, obviously 7 years have passed but locating to the Middle East was quite difficult within healthcare.
It has now been developed further and western companies have realised that they need to create a more supportive environment in order to retain staff.
What advice would you give to any healthcare professionals who are looking to return to the UK to secure employment?
I would recommend that healthcare professionals start looking approximately 2 months before they plan to leave their present place of work. This gives them time to ensure that they are happy with that relocation destination and also gives them time to find the right job – instead of just any job.
I had a great experience using Cavendish Professionals’ recruitment consultants, it was probably one of the best experiences I have had throughout the whole time of sourcing jobs in both the Middle East and in the UK. They give you their time, answer all questions thoroughly and offer support on all levels, which is great. Overall an excellent service from an excellent team.