In the Spotlight: An Interview with Two Locum Aussie Nuclear Medicine Technicians Working in the U.K.

13 September 2020  •  Working Abroad
In the Spotlight: An Interview with Two Locum Aussie Nuclear Medicine Technicians Working in the U.K.

Nuclear medicine - the application of radioactive substances in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. As far as complex professions go – nuclear medicine jobs are certainly near the top of the list! But, as with many medical specialties, you can find nuclear medicine jobs all over the world, with growing demand in many countries. We have interviewed two locum nuclear medicine technologists who have flown all the way over from Australia to experience life and locum nuclear medicine technician jobs in the UK.

How have you enjoyed your time so far here?

Locum 1 – “It’s been a barrel of laughs compared to working a ‘normal’ full time nuclear medicine technician job back home. The pay is higher than in Sydney, and between locum contracts, I’ve been able to travel for months at a time if I want to. The first thing my partner (who’s an Aussie OT locum) and I did was buy a campervan and 3 years later we haven’t looked back, despite our friends and family back home constantly asking when we’ll be ‘resetting back to factory settings’ and coming home to be boring again.”

Locum 2 – “I've had a ball, maybe I was lucky with where Globe found me a nuclear medicine technician job or the people that I've met here but coming to the UK has been the best decision I've made in my professional career.”

What are the differences between here and Australia workwise?

Locum 1 – “Working in the NHS, in general, is much cruisier than life at the public hospital I was working at in Sydney. British people (well, in healthcare anyway) think they’re busy when they’re not, so they love Aussie locums because we know how to work. Being a locum, the expectations start low, so if you’re half-decent then you’ll be a star. If you respect that you’re there to relieve some kind of shortage in staffing levels, and if you can therefore be relied upon to actually show up when you say you will, then they’ll appreciate you a lot.”

Locum 2 – “It's hard for me to compare because I've primarily worked in PET since arriving in the UK 2 years ago however in Australia I was employed solely in a Nuclear Medicine job. Without there being a standalone Nuclear Medicine degree here I have noticed that the department has great confidence in the quality of work of us as Locums whereas in Australia it seems to be a little more hierarchical in regard to how long you've been a member of staff. The average working day is a little longer here I've noticed but the patient load is very similar so there's plenty of tea breaks, also once patients hear the Aussie accent, they love to talk about any sport the brits are beating us in.”

How have you got on during COVID?

Locum 1 – “I was furloughed within my nuclear medicine technician job by my Umbrella Company for two months. They were really good about it, but due to a specific piece of wording in the government’s furlough advice, it took 6 weeks to confirm that I was actually going to get it. So that was a stressful time, living on just my partner’s income and not knowing for how long, followed by a big pay-day once confirmed. Being indoors feeling useless for two months didn’t do wonders for my mental health but I can’t complain, I came out of lockdown just fine. Friends of ours bailed back to Aus when lockdown hit, but we stuck it out and don’t regret it. They literally came straight back when lockdown eased anyway!”

Locum 2 – “It's actually not been too bad, we live in Brighton so have still been able to get out and go for some walks down to the beach, and as my partner has been working from home I've been able to get out on the bike for a few hours each day that I'm not working to stay out of her hair. Also, I have saved a good amount of money with the pubs being shut and improved my FIFA game nicely too.”

Have you been working through the COVID crisis? How has your day to day changed?

Locum 1 – “Towards the end of March the patients dropped off dramatically as the hospitals geared themselves up for an onslaught of COVID patients. Everything shut down including theatres and outpatient clinics, so in my Nuclear Medicine job, the patient numbers ended up being close to zero for a couple of months, during which I was placed on furlough. Once June came around, I was into a new contract at a different hospital and therefore off furlough. During June & Early July there were plenty of patients to do because we had a backlog to get through, but they had to be spaced out time-wise to avoid having a full waiting room. But come late July the numbers haven’t increased as they expected to, due to outpatient clinics still remaining unopened and our backlog has nearly run out. Everybody wants a Nuclear Med locum at the moment though still because the patient numbers will soon explode once the hospitals fully open in the coming months.”

Locum 2 – “I've been pretty lucky within my nuclear medicine job because work has been really flexible and tried to give me the maximum number of hours possible while ensuring we operate split shifts. Obviously, we're abiding by the full PPE guidelines which took a little getting used to. 

The department I work in is an outpatient PET department located at a University (which is currently closed) so without students, I've had no congestion on public transport or getting lunch etc (another positive). We do a thorough clean of all surfaces between patients which adds about an extra hour to the day in total. We won't accept any patients displaying symptoms which results in a relatively low risk workplace.”

What do you like the most about working in the UK?

Locum 1 – “The ability to have a work-travel-work-travel lifestyle. Spread out over the 3 years I’ve been here I’ve spent more than a year of that on holidays. Europe is so close but don’t forget the UK is a great place too. I’ve lived and worked within nuclear medicine jobs in 8 different cities and really enjoyed exploring new places when different contracts have come up. That might seem like I haven’t had any nuclear medicine job security, but I’ve actually moved around even at times when I still had stable work. Experiencing different places is great. There’s been a couple of times when I wanted to extend a contract and wasn’t able to, but overall, I think I’ve been lucky to do what I want really.”

Locum 2 – “The freedom of being a locum in a nuclear medicine job that's in relatively high demand allows travel throughout the country along with the ability to go on holidays and not have the fear of being without income when returning. I've also found myself working with a lot of other internationals who have become good friends. I've also benefited from some amazing travel advice from the locals.”

Any advice for nuclear medicine professionals back home about working here?

Locum 1 – “It’s a no-brainer mission, coming over here. 100% do it. Best thing I ever did. The pro experience you’ll get from locuming at multiple different places in a variety of nuclear medicine jobs is very valuable, for learning both what to do and what not to do! You’ll take that experience back home and be a much better professional for it.”

Locum 2 – “If you have any interest at all in working abroad, DO IT! I have had the best time in my nuclear medicine technician job and all my friends and colleagues from home said their time in the UK was amazing. No doubt you probably have someone in the department you currently work in that's worked over here at some stage and pick their brain. Even if only for two years you can work, travel and experience different cultures and establish some friendships that will last a lifetime. In fact, you may not even end up coming back.”

Looking for a new locum job?

Are you currently working in nuclear medicine and thinking about taking up a locum nuclear medicine job abroad? Check out our current nuclear medicine job opportunities here.

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