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Everyone can find a list of reasons for why they want to work abroad- more job security, better pay, lifestyle improvement, educational opportunities, etc. The things that work for one person may not always be suitable for another. Thinking about joining and working in the NHS is definitely one of those bigger things that need proper consideration and planning before you embark on them. When you work in a different environment and setting than what you are usually used to, you will invariably start comparing them. It's just human nature. So while each person has a different experience and different surroundings, I thought it best to outline the general reasons of why I enjoy working in the NHS.
Personal Satisfaction in the NHS
Being a doctor comes with a lot of ups and downs. You are often under a lot of pressure, sleep deprived, hungry, and anxious about upcoming exams, appraisals, and general day to day occurrences. A day without stress seems like a pipe dream. There is, however, on occasion a silver lining to our daily tensions by way of thanks from our patients and their families.
In my opinion, you feel no better joy or warmth than when a patient says thank you. Critics may harp and cry over the failures of the NHS and why they'd like to see it done away with, but it's hard to justify those desires when you finally discharge a patient who'd been unwell for the longest time and they take your hand and give you the brightest smile. They are truly grateful for the service you have provided, and that too, free of cost. You've done your best for their well-being and they, in return, are thankful.
Opportunity for Growth in the NHS
Another reason I enjoy working in the NHS is the opportunities it avails me. If you know where to look and who to ask, you'll always find a place to learn. Be it within your own hospital or Trust, or even beyond that, there is never a time a course, teaching, or chance to earn CPDs or experience is not available. The best thing you can do is to approach them with an open mind and to not think of it as a race or an obligation. These are ways for you to broaden your horizon and make yourself a better doctor, so take it in stride.
Diversity in the NHS Workplace
I'm a people person. I enjoy meeting individuals from different backgrounds and all walks of life because I feel it helps me to become a more well-rounded individual by taking in their experiences and understanding their culture. The NHS is a great place to meet a variety of nationalities. I've even made a map tick list to mark the people I meet. Just to name a few, I've worked with Greek, Maltese, Bangladeshi, Nigerian, Sudanese, Sri Lankan, Egyptian, Indian, Libyan, Chinese, Pakistani, Korean, Burmese, Spanish, Filipino, Portuguese, and, of course, British staff. There is nothing more unifying than diversity.
Saving Lives in the NHS
So why else do I enjoy working in the NHS? Many of us may have come from backgrounds or countries where healthcare was not universal or was very expensive even with the best of insurance coverage. Yes, we moan and groan about have to pay the national insurance tax, but when you get to the nitty gritty of how much money is spent per person and how much comes out of it, you're left in awe.
While you may interject that you are in perfect health and have no chronic issues to which you feel that you need to pay towards, you may change your tune when you begin to think about those you've helped from impoverished backgrounds who are now able to sleep soundly knowing they don't have to go into debt in order to keep in good health.
Quality Healthcare in the NHS
It's strange how often you can find debates and arguments about how the NHS doesn't provide good or quality healthcare to their patients. I often wonder if the people espousing these beliefs have ever themselves been in hospital. While by no means do I believe the system to be perfect, I cannot at the same time truthfully state that it does not provide comprehensive healthcare.
The NHS has just recently turned 72 years old. It's quite young when you sit down and think about it. Many of your patients are older than that, and if you ever have the time, chat with them about what life was like before there was universal healthcare. I'll tell you about one of mine. Around 10 years of age they were, when someone in the family became ill. Nights were spent scrounging for money and counting change, hoping to scrape up enough for a doctor's visit. Anything saved was first and foremost put towards getting sick, because it was a luxury to do so. Can you imagine that? What one could easily consider a basic human right had been reduced to a luxury because of its cost.
Now let me get off my soapbox. I'm not here to preach politics or what is better for the UK or if taxes should go down. I'm just expressing my love for such a great system, a system where anyone, regardless of their income or background, has the access to medication, blood tests, and most everything else they need. Sure, there may be some costs associated with their care, but overall, it's not something I'd want to live without.
While we are all most definitely not in it just for the discounts, it doesn't hurt to know where you can use your NHS ID to get some perks. As a rule of thumb, I ask anywhere I go if they have an NHS discount, but there are places that are well-known to give NHS staff a break, such as Nandos, Superdrug, Bella Italia, Clarks, etc. The best way to always know about what store is giving what discount is via the Health Service Discounts website.
They provide you with links and codes for discounts for a variety of things- from shoes, vacations, restaurants, and supermarkets. While they also have a cashback card that is free for 12 months and then £2.99 per year, the main service of providing a list of discounts you can avail along with their codes is completely free.
So why do you enjoy working in the NHS?