"Why would you leave sunshine & sandy beaches for rain & incredibly expensive London?"

If you're an overseas Pharmacist or Pharmacy Technician, what is your experience of working in the UK and why did you decide to work in the UK?

The most obvious question I get asked all the time since moving to the UK is “why would you leave warm weather, sunshine and sandy beaches for overcast, rain and incredibly expensive London?” My answer, Australia, especially where I come from Brisbane, Queensland is beautiful. Warm sunny days, the beaches are an hour away although no koalas and especially no kangaroos crossing the road from where I come from! Why London? London is a vibrant city, it has the lifestyle for a young, single, professional woman, its got the social scene, the cheap flights to some of the most amazing European travel destinations in the world and well for me it’s one step closer on the path to self discovery. Here is my story.

My background is in community pharmacy. I registered in Australia about three years ago as a pharmacist and was working in a pharmacy chain, which I would say is the Boots equivalent here.  I worked very hard winning the intern pharmacist of the year award then progressing to pharmacist in charge and manager in a short time. A short while ago I had reached the peak of my career and believed there was more challenges and experiences out there.  I wanted to move into hospital pharmacy however due to my experience in community and it being a very competitive market, I was struggling. Travel was also something that was always at the back of my mind. I had travelled to London the previous year for a pharmacy conference and pretty much made up my mind then an there I wanted to come here for work and travel.

I found it quite difficult to find work in this industry when I first arrived, as it was a huge shock to me that my qualification wasn’t recognised therefore positions were very limited and I would be taking a major pay cut. Despite this I approached this in a positive way and begun joining pharmacy recruitment agencies. I must have applied for a good thirty or so jobs before arriving in the UK and did not receive one call back. Just as I was starting to panic and just before I left Australia I was lucky enough to be contacted by RIG Healthcare. I was able to have all my compliance paperwork sorted out before I left Australia and was ready for work when I landed in the UK. After a few offers I ended up getting a position as a locum ATO/ pharmacy worker in a centrally located UK hospital the week I had arrived. My RIG Healthcare recruitment agent was fantastic and made my work transition into the UK so much easier.

My experience in working in a UK hospital has been great so far. Initially it was a challenge as my background was community pharmacy but I picked it up very quickly. The major challenges were getting my head around the UK NHS system, learning a new dispensing software and familiarising myself with the brands of drugs. The drugs were mostly the same however coming from a community pharmacy background I needed to refresh my memory on the hospital drugs. It’s a shame that a few years back my qualification was recognised in the UK. I cant understand why it was changed as the clinical guidelines and practises are very similar compared with Australia. Despite this the transition has been very smooth.

My days at work are never dull. I am quite frequently on the “hatch” taking in prescriptions and the patients are absolutely fascinated with the Australians. I would say at lease three or four times in a day I am asked “Are you from Australia and how do you like London?” I have found everyone so pleasant and so friendly. Though there is one thing that does stick with me and I continuously giggle about it. During my first few days at my current work place staff and patients repeatedly said to me “Hiya, you right”. I couldn’t understand it. Then when I replied with “I’m fine”! How are you going?” in my very strong Australian accent they gave me the strangest look! So for me my UK experience has been great and I look forward to many more experiences to come.

Daniela Seminara ATO/Pharmacy Support Worker (overseas pharmacist) LinkedIn Profile


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