"The NHS has made me feel at home. It constantly reminds me that there is support if you want it."
Working as a medical support worker gave Emmanuel the skills and experience he needed to become a junior doctor.
I became a medical support worker when I joined the Royal Bolton NHS Foundation Trust in December 2022. It turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me.
Prior to becoming a medical support worker, I studied successfully for a medical degree in my home country and graduated in 2018. Until early 2022, I worked as a doctor in public and private hospitals providing comprehensive care to patients in my home country. To gain experience, and improve my professional growth, I started a post-graduate degree in Public Health from the University of Chester but got to the point in my studies where I started to panic that my clinical skills would fade if I didn’t get back into medical practice. Luckily, I got a job as a medical support worker while finishing my degree, and within six months, I sat for the Professional and Linguistics board and passed on the first attempt, allowing me to register with the GMC and practise as a doctor.
I then secured a post as a junior doctor post in General medicine and started my new role in September 2023. The medical support worker role helped me learn the necessary NHS culture and systems. It also offered me hands on experience. It was so much of a valuable experience that when I started my new role as a junior doctor, there was no need for a shadowing period or induction. I had done this earlier prior to the MSW job.
It really motivated me to offer my skills and contribute to global healthcare as part of the NHS. I also wanted to learn the NHS culture and do my bit to ensure good medical practice in an international setting. So far so good, it’s exceeding my expectations.
Since becoming a junior doctor, I realised that being a medical support worker really helped me get the NHS experience I needed.
In fact, other than some additional responsibility, not a huge amount has changed since I stopped being a medical support worker. I would have a range of tasks such as making diagnoses, requesting investigations into specific conditions and discussing management plans with consultants.
I’d also carry out tasks to support consultants such as obtaining blood samples, making referral letters, and discharge letters, and engaging with patients and relatives.
It made the transition to the junior doctor so much simpler.
Being supported by my colleagues was so special. I could run my care plans past senior clinicians, which assured me that I was giving the best possible care to patients. It was an enjoyable part of my role and really helped me grow.
Initially, I found the whole NHS experience challenging. This is expected and common with many international medical graduates. But gradually, I started to acclimatise by asking questions, observing, and through training. Not forgetting the support of the amazing staff here at Royal Bolton Hospital.
It soon became a much more enjoyable experience.
During my spare time, I love to see movies, research writing and hang out with friends. I met other medical support workers from other NHS organisations and we became friends. I knew no-one in Bolton but now I bump into colleagues in the shopping centre, and we always stop to say hello and have a chat.
The NHS has made me feel at home. It constantly reminds me that there is support if you want it.
Being a doctor means constant professional development. So far, the NHS is supporting my career growth. I have accessed study leave and sponsorship to attend conferences. Going forward, my next step is to take my membership exams (Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom). I would also like to get a teaching qualification to help me teach the next generation of the NHS workforce such as medical students and delve into the oncology specialty.
Being a medical support worker has been an invaluable experience. I would encourage any international medical graduate who wants to work in the NHS to take up this opportunity if they get the chance. Getting this type of NHS experience prior completing the General Medical Council requirements is a real benefit.