The Medical Training Initiative enables overseas graduates to come to the UK for experience in intensive care. In small and large units with posts and training capacity the scheme can be mutually beneficial. Dr David Odaba, currently working at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, gives us his view on the application process and the benefit of the experience he gained. – Jeremy Groves

hand-and-pen-blogBy Dr David Odaba

I applied for a MTI (Medical Training Initiative) post in critical care 2 years after my residency in anaesthesia, which I undertook at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi (AKUHN). It is the only private University offering post graduate medical education in Kenya and ironically, the only university that does not charge tuition fees (and pays residents a salary instead).

I learnt about the MTI program through the RCoA website, which we (anaesthesia residents at AKUHN) used to visit frequently as all our assessments were bench-marked to the RCoA curriculum. After opting to undertake critical care training, I emailed the RCoA and received a prompt response requesting my CV.

The College then gave me 2 options; either to seek an appropriate job by myself via the NHS jobs website, or allow the College to share my CV with interested departments. I followed both options, had Skype interviews, and received offers from two Trusts. I opted for Carlisle because it was offering anaesthesia experience in addition to critical care training. This was important for me because our health system is in need of both anaesthetists and intensivists, and so my services as anaesthetist will still be needed even after critical care training.

Having already practiced for two years post residency before applying for the MTI post, my friends thought I was already good at my job and didn’t understand why I wanted to take an additional 2 years of training in critical care. Two years down the line, I believe it was one of the smartest career choices I have ever made.

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Two years down the line, I believe it was one of the smartest career choices I have ever made

The MTI application is full of paper work (I guess that is the case with everything British!). I should know since Kenya, a former colony, inherited the British bureaucracy. However, I must concede that the process is extremely efficient. As soon as I got my offer everything else fell into place. Once I had that and the certificate with the GMC required minimum scores for the English test my application for GMC registration with a license to practice was processed within 6 weeks.

Armed with a GMC email confirming registration, I next had to inform the Trust so that they could apply for a Tier 5 Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC). This took about 1 week to process once the Trust had submitted the application I used this time to apply for the visa. The visa itself can be processed within 15 working days, or within 5 working days fast track for an additional fee. After receiving the visa, you have 30 days to collect the Biometric Residency Permit (BRP) from a UK post office or the VISA expires and you have to start the whole process again!

It helps to speak to the accommodation manager at the employing Trust in advance to reserve a room. This makes the initial stay smoother. Once you receive your visa you are advised to have at least £1000 per person per month. This will more than cover most of what you need before your 1st paycheck. It was really difficult opening a bank account since, as a newbie, you virtually don’t exist in the UK financial systems. You need letters from HR confirming employment status and address to help with the application.

Smaller banks are more flexible than the large multinationals in this regard. Oh, and remember to register for National Insurance once you have a UK address. For some reason, this is only possible over the phone!

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Lucky for me, the teams, from consultants all the way to healthcare assistants, were all friendly and helpful

Once through with the paperwork comes the real task of integrating into UK clinical practice. Luckily for me, the teams, from consultants all the way to healthcare assistants, were all friendly and helpful. They made me feel at home right away as I got down to the business of higher training in critical care.

Nothing summarizes what I have learned in the last 2 years more than the answer I recently gave to a colleague back home. He asked me why I came all the way to the UK for 2 years to train in critical care when anaesthetists back home seemed to have been trained in all the critical care medicine there is to learn. My answer was simple; “my friend, I used to think along the same lines until I got here and experienced the training first hand. Now I know better”.

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I cannot begin to imagine the impact that well trained intensive care personnel will have once there are enough of us back home.

Given that the average age of an ITU patient in Kenya is about 20 years younger than an ICU patient in the UK; I cannot begin to imagine the impact that well trained intensive care personnel will have once there are enough of us back home. A dream made possible courtesy of the MTI program.

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Useful Links

MTI Website

What is the Medical Training Intiative?

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