Why you shouldn't wing it when coming to work in the UK

After completing 5 years of uni and jumping straight into my first job as a bariatric dietitian, I was itching to travel and maximise a young and free lifestyle while I still could. I had a few friends who had recently moved to the UK on 2 year visas and got jobs as locum dietitians and I thought why not join them?

Initially I thought I would just ‘wing it’ job wise, put dietetics aside and do some carefree hospo work for a while.

However, as my departure date drew closer, I had been advised by friends and family of 3 things:

1. London was a money vacuum

2. Hospitality paid sh*t

3. Applying for HCPC registration as a backup might not be too bad an idea

Reluctantly, I gave up my dream of zero responsibilities and began the listless job of applying for dietitian jobs, just 1 week before I was due to leave the country. I won’t lie, this week was stressful, and I have to admit, it was my first big mistake when it came to moving to the other side of the world. I had to scramble to get everything sussed in terms of documentation from my uni and work references etc.

But hey, at least I can impart my experience onto other potential expats, and let them know with certainty that when recruitment agencies tell you to get your sh*t together 6 months before leaving, it’s a pretty key piece of advice to follow otherwise you won't be able to take a locum job.

Regardless, I left NZ secretly relieved that my application was on its way, and that by the time I finished my 2 months of European touring, I could settle into a decent paying locum job when I got to London. Little did I know my HCPC would take the full 4 months to process! So yes, after spending all my money travelling and with up and coming flat deposits to worry about, it is safe to say I felt like a bit of a fool by this point.

I was able to give myself some credit though - whilst travelling, I managed to line up a cafe job for when I arrived in London to keep me going ‘just in case’ I couldn’t get a locum dietetic job immediately. I was very thankful I did this because it enabled me to keep afloat while waiting for the extremely drawn out process that is HCPC! But let me tell you, a £7 an hour wage is laughable when you envisioned yourself jet setting off to different cities in the EU every weekend, and unfortunately free weekends are few and far between in the hospo world!

So it’s safe to say, the day I received my acceptance email from HCPC was a day to celebrate as it had been LONG awaited. Ollie, my recruitment consultant at RIG Healthcare shared in my excitement too, and he got started on finding me a post ASAP. Within a few weeks I had my first locum dietitian job lined up in South Wales. I’ll be honest and admit that I wasn’t entirely enthused to be placed outside the city of Big Ben to begin with, but I reasoned with myself that it might do me good to spend a bit of time in a different location and I’m now pleased I took on the role for the following reasons;

  • I get to learn funny Welsh names for things like microwaves which are called ‘popty pings’
  • I get to drink nice tasting water again - You didn’t imagine it, London tap water really is nasty!
  • I have some great chats with locals at the bus stop - Something very unlikely to occur with the straight faced Londoners
  • I have clinics all over the Gwent area so don’t have to spend my days cooped up in an office or hospital ward
  • I’m part of a great team who are social both in and outside of work

There are aspects of London I really do miss, such as the speedy public transport and endless list of things to see and do there, but I’m quite happy living the quiet life for now, at least until the winter months have passed anyway! But at the end of the day London is only ever a 2 hour train trip away, so I still get to make it back there on the weekends to keep life interesting – Caerleon really is a sleepy little borough!

And if I was to summarise my experience so far for those now considering the expat life, it would be this:

You can always put your qualification aside and take a break, but trust me, if travel is your main objective, locuming is the best solution, hands down;

  • You get paid weekly and the pay is good to be fair
  • You don’t have to worry about creating individual cover letters for each and every job you apply for, an up to date CV is just fine
  • You get insider access to locum dietitian jobs that may not be advertised elsewhere
  • You get experience working in a range of different specialties which helps you to figure out what area you are most passionate about
  • You can travel in between jobs, or whenever you like really, with only 1 weeks’ notice required
  • And, you get to boost your CV for when you eventually do return home…

It’s a pretty sweet life and I wouldn’t have done it any other way.



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