Growing up in India, consultant physician Dr Subir Mukherjee never imagined he’d become a doctor working for the NHS in England. In this blog post he shares his journey to the UK and reflects on his love of mentoring trainees.
I entered medical training at my mother’s behest – she really wanted me to do something different from the family interests of law and films. So, I gave up my place at the Indian Institute of Technology to study engineering and entered Medical College Calcutta. After graduating, I completed two postgraduate qualifications (MD), first in tropical medicine and then in general medicine from Calcutta University.
A chance conversation with one of my patient’s relatives made it possible for me to come to England (who arranged all the travel logistics) and take the PLAB test, which I passed and then started looking for jobs in the UK.
My career so far
My first job as a senior house officer (SHO) was at Newmarket General Hospital near Cambridge. Quite a few consultants there were also on the staff of Addenbrooke's Hospital and they accepted me as part of the team and encouraged me to attend meetings in Cambridge. My fellow junior doctors appreciated that I had quite a few years of postgraduate training and qualifications from India and I started to act as their mentor from an early stage.
I was encouraged and secured a registrar post quite quickly. My next rotation was at Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield and this was the time when I started looking into my future career prospects in the UK.
I was appointed as consultant physician in Margate, Kent (my first consultant interview) and the medical director and chief executive facilitated my return to Addenbrooke’s Hospital as a proleptic consultant before the start of my consultant career.
I was always interested in medical education and how doctors from different overseas backgrounds gelled into the NHS and the various training programmes. I was successful in being appointed as associate postgraduate dean in Kent, Surrey and Sussex (KSS) after a short stint as a college tutor. That was the start of my portfolio career and I was the patch dean in Surrey for secondary care and introduced the Acute Care Common Stem (ACCS) programme in KSS and became the associate director for overseas doctors training. I was also involved with medical student teaching and became head of firm for phase 3 students and honorary senior lecturer.
In my later career, I moved into population health and with the emergence of the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), I have been working with primary care / CCG colleagues to shape clinical service and the emerging integrated care systems (ICS) and system-wide approach to healthcare delivery.
Was it an easy transition from Calcutta to Kent arriving in England when I was 34 years of age? Not really! There were worries, not on the clinical front, more on on immigration rules, which I started to master and learn in my own time.
It is vital that doctors are fully equipped with the latest information regarding immigration rules. It’s my belief that there should be a single body which supports international doctors through this complex system.
Despite the worries I had about this, I have to say I love my work. My advice would be to try to stay positive. There are plenty of opportunities in healthcare and the NHS is a truly enjoyable place to work, where you make many new friends and acquaintances. Career opportunities are there to explore, but I’d encourage anyone who is struggling to seek help and support – do not give up.
For me, my biggest reward has been seeing the huge number of trainee doctors I’ve worked with during their formative years go on to become established leaders in their different clinical and academic roles. I still continue to mentor some of them and that is hugely satisfying.
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