Why did you decide to leave Canada and embark on a working holiday to the UK?
I was interested in learning a new way of working in ultrasound, as well as getting the opportunity to explore a new area while still being employed! I was already considering taking some time off to travel, but was even more interested in locuming, as it's a chance to do both work and travel.
How did you find it during the preparation stage?
It was a bit stressful at times. The visa process wasn't too difficult, but I would recommend starting it early to avoid unnecessary stress. My partner and I initially thought we'd have to have my job lined up before applying for the visas so that we would have an address, but you can set the address as anywhere that will be relatively convenient to get to within the first month or so. Our address was in Glasgow, but my job ended up in Fife. This worked out just fine. But I was surprised that due to the ASAP nature of a lot of the job postings, the job is usually the last thing to get arranged. Since there are so many available it's not a huge risk, as long as you're flexible on location.
What were the biggest differences you noticed when working over here to back home?
There are a lot of differences, but surprisingly I didn't find it difficult to adjust. I'm still adjusting my protocols and my reporting style at times, as I've only been here for a couple months. There's a lot more autonomy here for the sonographers, which makes the scans quicker as you don't have to question whether a particular radiologist will be happy with your images as you might elsewhere. The reports are different as well, about halfway in between what we would write up in Canada and what the radiologist would write up. The scan times are 15-20 minutes for every exam, including pelvics and abdopelvics, but you will surprise yourself at how fast you're able to get things done! Especially with the help of an assistant, which is also a big difference from where I was working in Canada, with no assistance whatsoever!
What's been your favourite part of working in the UK?
I've been enjoying the people so far - I'm not sure about the rest of the UK, but I find the people of Fife to be very friendly and helpful. I'm finding it interesting to compare the ways of providing healthcare as well. I feel I'm also learning more, as the questions from the referring doctors that would normally go to a radiologist in Canada are now occasionally being directed to me, so I get a chance to describe directly to the doctor what I was seeing in the scan.
Would you recommend it to friends and colleagues?
I would definitely recommend locuming, especially if you're willing to dedicate 6 months or so of your time. This gives you a chance to settle in. It's also important to go into it with an open mind and be willing to change the way you scan and report. I changed my status to casual at my previous job in Canada, meaning I can go back and pick up shifts at any time. But meanwhile I get the chance to explore and learn all while getting paid approximately double what I was paid in Canada. So far I am really enjoying the experience!
Alison is a Locum Sonographer from Canada who took the jump to pursue a working holiday in the U.K. Alison is now finding every success whilst working in Scotland, and exploring what the rest of Europe has to offer. If you would like to take the next steps to pursuing a U.K. working holiday click here to view our latest vacancies.