In the Spotlight: An interview with an Aussie Locum OT working in the UK
At Globe, we love to hear from our locums from overseas about how they’ve experienced their new locum positions in the UK. This week, we’re talking to Lara, an occupational therapist who moved from Australia to the UK to take up locum occupational therapy jobs in London and Scotland. Lara discusses how the role has evolved throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and her thoughts on how her job compares to the one she left in Aus. Read her fantastic story below.
How have you enjoyed your time so far here?
Despite everything that has happened the last year and a half, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here. I have had the opportunity to experience many different roles and settings working as an OT that I would not have been able to work in back home. Prior to COVID the work/travel balance was amazing – being able to explore new countries every few weeks was pretty great. The work/life balance is still good... but just have substituted the overseas holidays for outdoor walks and take away coffees!
What’s the differences between here and Australia work-wise?
The NHS is such an extensive healthcare system and having now worked in a few different NHS settings I can definitely see differences compared to the state health systems in Aus - particularly around services and equipment offered to patient and waitlist times for services. The commute is also quite different - at home, I would typically jump in the car and drive however over here it is meticulous planning on what tubes/buses you need to catch to get to work on time.
How have you got on in your occupational therapy job during Covid?
At the beginning of the pandemic, I found it difficult as my role finished up and was out of work for a few weeks. Being able to work during the pandemic has been helpful in that it provides routine and ‘normalises’ your day, despite lockdown and other restrictions impacting on your day-to-day life.
Have you been working through COVID-19 crisis. How has your day to day changed?
I have had a few different roles since the beginning of the pandemic. My first role I was lucky enough to be able to work from home which provided nice flexibility as well as saving on travel costs. I have also worked in a hospital in East London and now working on COVID wards in Scotland. In terms of day-to-day work life, my role has stayed mostly the same however the most challenging thing would have to be trying to maintain social distancing as well as the infection control procedures that need to be followed – the PPE required on the COVID wards can be quite exhausting and hot. Wards/procedures are constantly changing from day to day so being flexible is pretty key.
Working in the hospitals here during the pandemic has given my insight and perspective on the virus that I would not have gained working back in Australia at this time.
What do you like the most about working in the uk?
I really like the flexibility of working in an occupational therapy job. I enjoy knowing I am not locked into a role and have the opportunity to try new roles that I otherwise wouldn’t work in back home. My agent Luke has been great in terms of listening to what kind of work I’m looking for and finding me roles that suit that. Locuming is also a great way to meet other people - whether they be permanent staff or locums themselves.
Any advice for OTs back home about embarking upon an occupational therapy job?
My advice would be to just give it a go! At the end of the day you aren’t here for long and want to make the most out of it. Also to make the most of travel (when you can). It’s such a luxury having Europe at your doorstep so definitely plan ahead and book those hols!