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A checklist for your first week as an IMG in the NHS

Post date: 23/02/2023 | Time to read article: 3 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 24/02/2023


Check out this checklist from Dr Omar Alam to help you make the most of your first week working in the NHS. 


The first week of any job can be daunting. Settling into new surroundings takes time and things can feel especially strange when that job is in a new country. 

One way to make the transition into your new role in the NHS a smooth one is to be as prepared as possible. To help ensure you get the support you need – and can ask all the right questions – we’ve put together this checklist that will be helpful in your first week working in the NHS.

Get to know your dedicated supervisor 

As an international medical graduate (IMG) you will be assigned a supervisor. This person will monitor you and your progress, and offer valuable support as you settle into your new role.

Your supervisor will explain the importance of having a personal development plan in place. They’ll also be responsible for conducting regular appraisals of your performance, so they can talk you through how those will work. 


Make the most of your induction

An official induction is important in any job, but especially so when working for an NHS trust for the first time.

Your induction will cover all the basic but essential aspects of the role, such as how to use the computer system and what the trust’s policies and documentation mean to you. This will also be the time to take care of any additional paperwork that needs completing, to collect your ID badges, and to familiarise yourself with where everything is in the building. All of this will help you feel more settled and relaxed.

If your induction is not planned for your first week in the job, ask your supervisor about arranging one as soon as possible.


Ask if there will be a period of shadowing

This is really important. Of course, you have the clinical knowledge and skills to do your job, but with a new role in a new country, you may lack the understanding of exactly how things are done at your NHS trust and the correct procedures to follow. This can include practical things such as how to bleep, how to document a consultant ward round, and how to clerk. 

By shadowing your new colleagues, you’ll get to see first-hand how others do things, and over the course of your first few weeks you’ll become more and more hands-on as your confidence and knowledge grows.


Find out if your post is rotational

Rotating in different departments within your specialty is a great way to see all areas of the job, and experience how things are done in each. By doing this you’ll gain the understanding needed to manage emergencies when you are on-call. 

Ask the question about rotation during your first week.

Understand your job grade

It’s important to be clear from the outset what grade your role is. It may be that the level is below what you were working at in your home country, and the reason for this is the fact that you lack the knowledge and experience of how the NHS works.

This, and your career development plan, are topics you can discuss with your supervisor in your first week.

Get your indemnity cover sorted

Many IMGs are unaware of the importance of indemnity cover. Medical indemnity for doctors protects you in the event of an adverse incident, such as a patient complaint, a regulatory matter or other medicolegal issue. 

This indemnity – which ensures everyone working in the NHS is covered and protected – is provided by medical defence organisations, such as Medical Protection. 

Identify your wider support network 

Many NHS trusts have a black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) network which IMGs often find useful when starting a new role. 

These networks provide a safe place where you can speak freely, ask the questions that you may be too nervous to ask in front of others, and confide in medical professionals who have been through what you are experiencing as a new NHS employee.

During your first week, ask around and see if there is a BAME network which you can become part of.


About the author 

Dr Omar Alam is a specialty trainee registrar in acute internal medicine. Omar came to the UK in 2016 from Pakistan and has a blog sharing some of his experiences, focusing particularly on International Medical Graduates. Omar also provides mentoring to International medical graduates, local UK graduates and advanced care practitioners in his workplace.


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