You may have seen in the news fears being expressed that the UK could face a shortage of doctors. We currently run a special programme to help refugee healthcare professionals re-qualify so they can find work in the UK. Obi, a refugee from Nigeria, is just one of the doctors we’ve helped. This is his story.
I’d been working in the medical field for three years before I was forced to flee my country.
I had experience of working in paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, medicine and surgery, but my real love was for community medicine, and I was working at a rural practice in Nigeria when I had to leave.
Re-qualifying in the UK was challenging; the whole process took three years. The exams were tough and I had to quickly improve my language skills. I was also working to support myself and studying at the same time; this was a difficult balance and of course, I had to work at a much lower level than I was qualified for.
The Refugee Council helped me a great deal. They facilitated funding for my exams, organised free tutorials, and help sign post me to other organisations. They also provided me with a mentor; someone who had been through the same process I could learn from.
I’m now a doctor in A&E. When I got the job, I felt a mixture of excitement and relief.
If refugee doctors are looking to re-qualify I’d recommend seeking help from organisations like the Refugee Council. You can’t do it alone; it’s easier to surround yourself with other people who are working towards the same goal.
If you remain steadfast and you aren’t discouraged by the challenges, and there are many, then you can be successful.