Case Study: Zahrah Patel

Neuro Occupational Therapist

The journey of overseas staff transitioning to the UK and NHS workplace.

Where to start! Grab your popcorn and cup of tea because we have a long journey ahead! I began my journey in June 2022 when I spotted the gap in the UK market for Occupational therapists. The process was simple and straightforward but consisted of lots of admin! It included HCPC registration, visas, English proficiency test, getting documents from my university and so much more. Thankfully I received a couple of positive responses from interviews and selected the best options for me. My recruitment company was a great help and communicating with Krupa from the West London Trust was very important to find more information of what to expect. Krupa assisted me with any questions that I had. Soon after visas arrived, we booked our tickets and it was almost time! It was a seamless process as everything went smoothly including the flight and car transfer.

Thankfully we had already secured an apartment online prior to arriving so it made it a lot easier. Also Krupa was a huge help in this, liaising with agents and helping me understand the UK property market and locations.

When we arrived in the UK, we felt very privileged to be in a first world country. We came from a 3rd world country where there were few rules followed and no systems in place. So you can imagine our shock! We were amazed at the transport system and postal services in the country and that they actually worked! We also noticed the diversity in the country and the endless possibilities here.

Once we settled into our new apartment, it was about exploring! It very important to situate yourself in central location, close to transport, a supermarket and If you can close to your workplace. I have just a 10-minute walk to my workplace – which in the UK is unheard of. We explored for a few days but then the fun was over and it was time to work. My first week was online induction, thereafter I had my first day.

The daunting, scary, worrying first day of any new job. Added to this was being in a new country – so it was quite a challenge. I went into my first day positive and excited at this new challenge I had. I did not have much time to settle in as I was immediately thrown into my caseload of 10 patients. It was overwhelming but I can now confidently say it put me in good stead for where I am today. At first you have to learn how healthcare works in a new country, the NHS, systems, process, procedures, guidelines and expectations. Time definitely helps to settle in. I learnt not to be so hard on myself at the beginning but rather be positive and give it my best. I can now say I’ve grown loads in a short space of time. And I’m still learning every day! I would say the key is confidence which only comes with time and you have allowed yourself time. It’s also important to have weekly supervision and having your colleagues understand that you are new and will need time to settle in.

Some tips that really helped me in the entire process:

  • Definitely look for accommodation that’s in a good spot – it will make the world of difference. 
  • Another tip would to be to do as much as research as you can on your prospective job and exactly what it entails to understand what’s expected of you.
  • Use all the resource’s you can! I messaged and emailed Krupa most days with questions and queries and worries in which she reassured me. 
  • Have a plan in place such as if you staying in a hotel, Airbnb or accommodation. It will make the transition much easier if you have a plan.
  • Make friends and keep company with others – especially if you coming over yourself. It can get lonely and homesick if you alone.
  • Keep your goals in mind as this will help to adjust and settle in and keep you motivated on tough days.

If you are thinking of coming to work in the UK, Do it! It requires hard work, determination, drive and often lots and lots of courage. But it’s rewarding when you making a difference and enjoying what you do.

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