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Real job situation in UK and clarifications of some myths

Author: rejy, Posted on Sunday, February 20 @ 08:59:10 IST by RxPG  

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The real situation in UK has both a long term and short term prospects. I will try to discuss all these in this article.

In the short term, PLAB is currently easy and cheaper to pass but jobs are difficult. In my personal opinion feel passing PLAB in itself opens up a lot of vistas. Indians are a funny lot in this country. Once on the other side of the fence they try and prevent people coming into UK by misinformation. If we look at the historical aspects of medical immigration into UK, in the 70s those who came got into posts which many local doctors didn’t want to join. That translated into less competition .ie. Psychiatry, Elderly care, Paediatrics, Anaesthesia. These were unglamorous to the locals for the lack of private practice. Then there are the staff grades and associate specialists, the disgruntled bits, who were all clearly intelligent but were unfairly pushed down by NHS system in older days. General practice (GP) posts were also less competitive in a similar way.

Now the children of these immigrant doctors, the second generation of British Indians have managed to enter medical school with British sounding Indian hybrid names and their parents notice that the major competition for their wards are the present Indians coming in who are usually much brighter academically and given a chance will outshine all. These British Indians and their ethnic brethren turning up from Indian subcontinent are actually in the same boat as far as ethnic minority equal opportunity is concerned for hospital jobs. The majority of Indian consultant led associations like BAPIO, claim to be fighting for the overseas doctors. Their members are British Indians, their parent groups & the unsuspecting poor unemployed overseas doctors who appear all to be eternally grateful to these organisations for helping them out.
Many have been called for meetings & asked to pay a fee for membership. This is then projected to the GMC, Department of health etc saying we are the legitimate voice of the overseas doctor & obtain positions purely for reasons known to them. Their agenda include limiting the number of PLAB exams, making the exams tougher on the pretext that we can reduce the backlog of guys waiting for a job.

It is true it’s difficult to get a job in the UK. But these are due to procedural problems which nobody wants to tackle i.e. clinical attachments or even giving full registration after passing PLAB rather than limited etc. GMC has on record said they are not making a profit from the exams but these associations still keep harping on the same theme than putting their money where the mouth is. The conditions now were the same in 1990s & only during the sudden European Working Time Directive [EWTD] days, which reduced the number of working hours for all NHS doctors and thus increased the number of effective jobs for same work, of 2002-2003 people got jobs faster. There’s a lull now.

My friends had to wait at least 6 months recently before the first locum and those who have regular jobs now are the truly well qualified and hardworking i.e. those who passed MRCS-1, did audits etc by putting in more work than they have done in India under excruciating conditions. They had to find finance for 6-12 months. Many have already started writing USMLE as well as looking towards Australia which is easy after passing Royal College examinations. Those who couldn’t get through Royal College examinations are trying to get into GP practice jobs. Life is hell but they know unlike in India hard work pays and though unfair there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Clearly the ones who didn’t survive were the ones who were unable to put in this kind of work. The saying is “there is no free lunch in UK". With EWTD coming in lot of my colleagues who would have got only staff grade posts in Surgery are today SpR in Surgery and Medicine and will become consultants in a short time. The ethos is the same. UK wants the best doctors, who go up the ranks fast; willing to work hard knows the language and willing to modify themselves to suit UK system. In the long term there are jobs for the waiting if they manage to survive. Majority in UK medical schools have had an easy living & the majority are women. Hence for most GP training is their best option. The reasons for this attraction for GP training are no tough exams, no night’s shifts and a good salary. With centres for Royal College examinations opening up in highly competitive places like India and other places and with the current trends of about the top 30 % getting through these exams, my gut feeling is that the Royal Colleges will have to start Indian style reservation for the British graduates.

For those who do not have the right attributes to make it here in UK, I would advice not to worry. PLAB is your visa to go out to USA, Australia, the Caribbean and to several locations worldwide. The unofficial embargo on international doctor recruitment after Sept 9/11 has created a virtual shortage of doctors in USA. Doctors who have worked in UK are looked upon favourably by program directors in USA.
For those who have got into post graduation in India should write and pass the PLAB during their post graduation years itself. Then they should complete their post graduation in INDIA and pass the relevant Royal College examinations before coming back to UK with a strong curriculum vitae and qualifications. Everything is cyclical here.

The Indian organisations are clamouring to shut the PLAB centres as soon as possible. Their voice is becoming stronger by the day. I will end by telling this story. My friend once went to an Indian organisation meeting, mainly to network and to find a job. He met many Indians in powers to be and explained he had passed PLAB and was a MD. Everyone was interested only in finding out if he was married? Their interest waned immediately when he told them he was married!

Note: Originally posted at http://www.rxpgonline.com/postt19238.html

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