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Checklist for Moving to the UK Personally and Professionally: A Guide for IMGs


Greetings, I'm Madhulika Puranam, an International Medical Graduate (IMG) from India, currently employed as an LAS FY2 in trauma and orthopaedics. Having completed both parts of PLAB and obtained my GMC registration in January 2023, I now hold a full licence to practise medicine in the UK.


I am eager to share my personal experiences and insights on creating a comprehensive checklist for a smooth transition to the UK, both personally and professionally, specifically tailored for International Medical Graduates. During our discussion, I will provide valuable tips and tricks to assist you in this process.


Moving to a new country can be both exciting and overwhelming, especially when it involves starting a new professional journey. For international medical graduates aspiring to work as doctors in the UK, thorough preparation is key. This blog presents a comprehensive checklist, organised in chronological order, to help you navigate the process of moving to the UK personally and professionally.


A. Before Coming to the UK:


1. Obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) and ensure you have sufficient funds for maintenance, as required by the UK immigration rules. However, most trusts tick the maintenance.


2. Obtain the necessary police clearance from the regional passport office in your home country. Keep in mind that this step can take time, so it's advisable to initiate the process as early as possible to expedite the issuance of the clearance.


3. Undergo a TB clearance test at a hospital recognized by UK immigration. I personally obtained mine at one of the Fortis hospitals affiliated with the UK immigration in India.


4. Ensure you have your IELTS certificate readily available, meeting the required score. However, if your IELTS certificate has expired, include the expired certificate along with your GMC registration certificate.


5. Keep your offer letter prepared and accessible for the application process.


6. Once you have gathered all the above-mentioned documents, along with your passport, proceed to apply for the Tier 2 health worker visa. I applied for my visa through the official VFS Global and UK immigration website, submitting my documents and biometrics at a regional VFS Global office. It is advisable to apply with priority to receive your visa within 5-10 working days.


7. To ensure cost savings and avoid peak travel periods, it is advisable to plan your flight tickets only after you have received your visa. Avoid booking during school holidays and weekends if possible. Additionally, consider coming alone initially as it allows you to focus on important tasks such as settling in, securing accommodation, and completing professional requirements before bringing your family.


8. Contact the Human Resources (HR) department of your future employer as soon as possible. They can assist you in arranging essential aspects such as Occupational Health clearance, accommodation options, induction procedures, and your work schedule (rota). It is important to establish clear communication with HR to ensure a smooth transition into your new workplace.


9. Take the time to familiarise yourself with the area where you will be relocating. Conduct thorough research on nearby facilities such as supermarkets, shops, healthcare services, gyms, post offices, and the local crime rates. This knowledge will help you settle in more comfortably and make informed decisions about your daily needs.


10. Inquire about any registration fees and policies that may be associated with your new workplace or professional registration. It is important to have a clear understanding of the requirements and any associated costs. This will help you avoid any surprises or delays in the registration process.


11. If you plan to drive in the UK, consider bringing your international driving licence. This licence is valid for a period of one year from the date of issuance and can be very helpful, especially if you intend to purchase a vehicle during the initial months of your stay.


12. For the first two weeks of your stay, it is recommended to book an Airbnb or similar accommodation. This will provide you with a temporary base from which you can search for a suitable apartment or shared accommodation. Always prioritise viewing the property in person before making a final decision on where to stay.


B. Packing Essentials:


1. Ensure that your luggage is packed with all the essential items you will need. This includes appropriate clothing for different seasons, especially until you have the opportunity to find your preferred stores. Don't forget to pack suitable footwear, regular medications, grooming essentials, as well as important electronic devices like your laptop, phone, and necessary accessories like a phone charger and a power bank. Try to bring some money (pounds) in cash for emergencies. Also, try to get all your original documents and a few photocopies of the same.


2. Consider including some non-perishable food items in your luggage that can be stored for an extended period. Examples could be pickles, instant ramen, instant dosa mix, idli mix, or any other food items of your choice. This way, you can have peace of mind knowing that you have some readily available food options while you settle into your new environment.


C. Settling In:


1. During the initial weeks, it is advisable to stay in an Airbnb or similar accommodation while you search for a suitable and affordable place to live near your hospital. Utilise online platforms like Zoopla and Rightmove to explore various options and find a comfortable residence that takes into account factors such as proximity to your workplace, schools (if applicable), and transportation options.


2. A few trusts have relocation policies and reimbursements within the UK. Try to contact the respective HR about the same.


3. Get five copies of a letter addressed "To whom it may concern" from HR, as you would need that for various reasons like opening a bank account, renting a place, DL, etc.


4. Ensure you gain access to the local trust intranet, as it will serve as a valuable resource for accessing important protocols and forms related to your work. Get access to ESR, ELFH, BNK, INDUCTION, HORUS PORTFOLIO, and all available free educational resources.


5. Download the following apps which will help you as a junior doctor: Induction switch, BNF, Microguide, MD Calc, Geeky Medics, NHS Safeguarding, and ATSP.


6. Get a smart card within the trust using your National Insurance number to have access to GP records and, in some trusts, even the local hospital records.


7. Arrange for educational and clinical supervisors who can provide guidance and support throughout your training and professional development. Having mentors in place will enhance your learning experience and help you progress in your medical career.


8. Register with a GP and a dentist near you as early as possible.


9. If the area is bike-friendly and aligns with your preferences, consider getting a bicycle. Look for affordable options on online marketplaces to find a suitable bike that meets your needs. Cycling can be a convenient and cost-effective mode of transportation in certain areas.


10. Familiarise yourself with the locations of major supermarkets such as ASDA, ALDI, Tesco, and LIDL. Knowing where these grocery stores are located will facilitate your regular shopping needs and help you settle into your new routine more easily.


11. Identify the hospital library and obtain a library card. This will grant you access to a wealth of medical resources and literature, supporting your professional development and expanding your knowledge base.


12. Take the time to explore the hospital cafeteria and other facilities available to you. Familiarise yourself with the resources room, which can provide additional tools and materials to enhance your work experience.


13. If you plan to drive in the UK, it is crucial to apply for a provisional driving licence. This licence is particularly important if you intend to commute by car. Be sure to complete the necessary procedures and requirements to obtain your licence and ensure compliance with local driving regulations.


D. Financial Considerations:


1. Register with the local police, if required by your visa conditions.


2. Open an online bank account and obtain debit and credit cards. Use the online account for daily expenses to ensure the safety of your main bank account.


3. Your trust will want you to open a bank account in one of the major banks like Barclays, HSBC, etc, try to open an account in these major banks, and use that account as a professional account for transactions between you and your trust.


4. Start building your credit score by using credit cards responsibly. Monitor your credit score through free websites like Experian.


5. Link your rent and regular expenses to the credit card to improve your credit score. Ensure timely repayment and avoid overdrafts.


6. Invest in a wallet that protects your credit cards from being scanned and stolen (RFID protection).


7. Set up accounts for online platforms such as Amazon, eBay, Uber Eats, Deliveroo, and Uber for convenient shopping and dining experiences.


8. Register with a local gym to maintain a healthy lifestyle and meet new people.


9. Engage in sports activities like football, cricket, or golf, either individually or with friends and colleagues.


10. Allocate time to enjoy local restaurants and coffee shops. Meet friends or colleagues at least once a week to foster social connections and create a sense of community.


Conclusion:


Moving to the UK as an international medical graduate can be a transformative experience, both personally and professionally. By following this comprehensive checklist, you can ensure a smoother transition, allowing you to settle into your new life and excel in your medical career. Remember, preparation is the key to a successful start, so take the time to plan and organise every aspect of your move. Best of luck in your new endeavour!


Need More Help?


If you have any further questions, I would be happy to answer them at trewlink.com. You can register using this link. Find me as an Ambassador/Expert and Follow my profile – Madhulika Puranam- to receive regular support and advice.

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