I am an IMG and I am proud of it

From medical school onwards, my life has been one of toil, though also one packed with thrilling journeys.

I joined NHS two years ago in Cambridge where I found myself working in intensive care medicine, something that I enjoyed and learned a lot from. I rotated from one speciality to another, and then I spent a year in Kent. This all helped me in familiarising myself with the core values of NHS and good medical practice by GMC. I then spent time preparing myself for GP training that has always fascinated me, right from the moment I stepped into NHS.

Scotland has had a consistently high success rate in MRCGP, and it has been rated highly by trainees in the GMC survey. It also offers a wide variety of support during the training which was important to me. That is why I chose to train in Scotland over other nations.

Since starting my GP training in Scotland, I have been enthusiastic and passionate about learning new experiences. It was not long into my training when I had to face difficult challenges at work that resulted in significant disruption to my work.

Although things were going well, my life turned upside down and I had to endure a great deal of suffering. I was living alone, with no immediate family members around, and my wedding was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of this, a significant phase of my training went higgledy piggledy. But as time has gone on, others around me have helped me to see the sunshine again.

All my hardships were taken care of very well by my Deanery. Together with the support of Deanery, and BMA Scotland, I was able to move forward as a stronger and more resilient person than ever before, away from the depths of despair that haunted me when experiencing hardship.

The experience of going through the challenging phase of life, at the beginning of my GP training, has made me mindful of the challenges that international medical graduates face.

I believe the root cause for a lot of trouble for international medical graduates is “silence”.

Silence may be perceived as a lack of an opinion, or disengagement, and so the effect of silence can have a calamitous effect on us – both personally and professionally. Often the lack of confidence to speak creates a barrier, whether when seeking support or when we want to raise concerns. Silence and a lack of confidence prevents us from accessing the support as we fear being labelled as problematic.

There are various supports that are available to help us if we face any challenges at work. But we all need to speak up and have our voices heard. Our colleagues and teachers want to hear us, and we must remember that.

We need to have the confidence to speak to the right person at the right time when we see a problem, instead of waiting and shutting the door after the horse has bolted. I believe that making our voice heard can create a strong bond between us and our teachers. We need to take the initiative and be courageous. This can bring constructive change as we navigate our ways through. We are all here for one another – times can be hard, but remember you are not alone.

Dr Naima Rafiqua

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