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Settling into the first NHS job: advice and top tips

Hi, we are Siri and Mahgul, IMGs and junior doctors working in the NHS. In today's blog article, we are going to share with you some tips and tricks on how to settle into your first job in the NHS.

Your talent determines what you can do. Your motivation determines how much you are willing to do. Your attitude determines how well you do it.' – Lou Holtz

Congratulations on your first job! When you receive the offer, you need to make sure you receive all the paperwork necessary for your visa, which includes your conditional offer of employment, certificate of sponsorship, occupational health checks and references. The first job is very challenging because you will be new to the NHS system, and it will definitely take a minimum of 3 months to get to know about how the NHS works, and for some of you it may even take 6 months to adjust to the system.

10 TOP TIPS from Siri

These are a few important things to keep in your mind when you are starting a new job.

1. Accommodation

You need to find the right accommodation, considering your distance to the hospital. Every hospital has its accommodation, so always check before you book it. Rightmove, Zoopla, Airbnb or Spareroom are the websites (or apps) that can help you find the room. You can read more in our blog Settling in the UK – Top 10 tips

2. Rota

Please ask your rota coordinator about your rota, make sure you have enough off days after on calls. Book your annual leave and study leave accordingly. You can also register with locum agencies and do locum shifts after you settled in.

3. ID cards, scrubs, stethoscope, torchlight

These are the daily necessities. You can take scrubs in the hospital, or you can order from Amazon. Also, you will need to get an ID card and a smart card.

4. Observership period

You should have at least a minimum of 3 weeks of shadowing, which will help you to know how things work in the NHS. Get your login credentials from the IT team. Observe how to do blood requests, prescribe to-take-out medications (TTO's), referrals etc.

5. Meeting your educational supervisor and clinical supervisor

The educational supervisor (ES) is the doctor responsible for the training of the whole year, who will review your progress regularly, and help you plan your career. The clinical supervisor (CS) will supervise your training for each rotation. You have to contact the administrator regarding ES and CS.

6. Portfolio

A portfolio is an electronic record of your learning events. It shows what you have done during the rotation and in the whole year. It is important to work on it and keep it updated. You need to do supervised learning events, which includes case-based discussions, mini-clinical examination, and direct observation of clinical procedures (DOPS). Along with this, you need to do core procedures and team assessment behaviour after every rotation.

Teaching sessions are very informative as well, and they happen every week, so try to attend those sessions. You can build your portfolio by presenting cases, or any topics in teaching sessions.

Much of your career progression will depend on your portfolio. The portfolio will be used to evaluate you when applying for jobs, in career progression, and in annual appraisals. Knowing what goes into your portfolio will help you start to develop it from an early stage, and help maximize your professional successes.

7. Induction modules

It is mandatory to do online induction modules, which will give you an idea of trust policies and guidelines.

8. Indemnity insurance

It is very important to have medical indemnity insurance. You must make sure you have appropriate insurance or indemnity cover for your medical practice in the UK. Search online for medical indemnity covers and take the one according to your affordability.

9. Payslip contract

Give your bank details and check the tax code on your payslip.

If you would like to learn more about how much you can earn as an IMG doctor in the UK and the general cost of living in the UK depending on where you live, please watch this webinar with Dr Michael Poplawski, an IMG and a GP based in Manchester

10. Car parking

Car parking will be based on the hospital, so try to get information from the trust website.

10 TOP TIPS from Mahgul

Your 1st NHS job can be quite a challenge and would need a lot of patience from your end, I remember when I started, I was extremely overwhelmed, ended up crying a few times due to difficult situations at work and adjusting to the new job. However, things do get better and ultimately, I found my department extremely wonderful to work with.

Here are some tips:

  1. Your 1st NHS job will give you anxiety and you will start judging your clinical acumen. But as an IMG you are not expected to know everything. Generally, the staff is very helpful.

  2. Do not hesitate to ask questions, even if you think it’s a stupid one, go ahead and ask. Be confident.

  3. A clinical attachment prior to the 1st job is an advantage, if you haven’t done one, it does not mean you will not get a job in NHS.

  4. Make sure you attend the induction day and get your CRS/smart cards and ID cards sorted out ASAP. It helps you to understand the IT system much better and quicker.

  5. Meet with your clinical supervisor and introduce yourself. Tell them about your travelling time (if it is more than an hour) or any other issues such as accommodation issues you might be facing. They do help out

  6. Ask your clinical supervisor for at least a 2-week shadowing time. It is essential to understand the system.

  7. Your rota should not include on calls for at least 2 months

  8. Get an indemnity cover for yourself. Protecting yourself should be a priority.

  9. Get yourself acquainted with annual leaves, study leaves, maternity/paternity leaves and pay. Your HR and clinical supervisor will guide you.

  10. As a trust grade doctor, you are allowed to have some amount of study budget. Ask medical education about that and if you do some course while working, the course fee can be claimed in that way.

If you have any questions about settling into your first NHS job, we would be happy to answer them at

We hope this helps. Good luck!

Dr Siri & Dr Mahgul

Written by Siri & Mahgul

Edited by Julia


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