I am originally from Poland which is where I completed my training. I was also registered there as a GP and completed my specialty training in obstetrics and gynaecology.
I moved to Northern Ireland 2010 and worked in different units within the health and social care system as a senior house officer until I was appointed to a permanent post as a specialty doctor in obstetrics and gynaecology in 2013.
I must admit it took a while to make the adjustment to a new healthcare system with different local policies and requirements for doctors. Medicine is similar all over the world, but there are some differences reaching the same goal of patient well-being and safety. I found international medical graduate medical qualifications are not recognised straight away and that it does take time to prove your value to the health system.
IMG staff, associate specialist and specialty doctors are important to the Northern Ireland health care system as they bring a different perspective and skills. I am sure some of my IMG colleagues would have chosen the SAS pathway had there been clear career options for the grade with development and progression of skills, but that has not been happening in recent years. We hope that will change with the new SAS contracts.
Personally, I find my role as a specialty doctor in obs and gynae very rewarding. In this specialty we have to make clinical decisions quickly, especially in emergencies, so we must have a lot of independence. It is rewarding to finish a busy shift, that has had many emergencies, but with healthy babies and happy mothers by the end.
Being an SAS doctor in Northern Ireland allows more flexibility. We can focus on providing direct patient care and less on other clinical and non-clinical responsibilities required of a consultant or trainee doctor. We can also work in one location without having to rotate to different units.
In my opinion the SAS pathway is one where you may develop into an experienced doctor. For many colleagues it can suit family life better which is becoming more important as the pressures on the health service here continue.