Polish firm takes lead in filling UK’s GP shortfall

04/02/2020

Where is the future of the UK’s general practitioners (GPs) being made? You might be surprised to find out that a part of the answer lies just south of the Polish capital, Warsaw, in the somewhat sleepy suburb of Piaseczno.

A 20-minute jaunt from Warsaw, Piaseczno has experienced rapid growth recently. In one of the new condos that have sprung up in the town – the result of a property boom that has lasted since the early 2010s – there’s a spacious, yet cosy, office.

It’s lunch break at the Paragona Campus, where doctors from several European countries and a multitude of cultural backgrounds are training to become GPs in the UK. Paragona is the Swedish-Polish specialist recruitment company that is on a contract with the National Health Service (NHS) to reduce the shortage of GPs that many UK regions experience.

The company’s task is to find and train doctors in line with the NHS standards of patient care. Upon completing an intensive 12-week course at the campus in Piaseczno, doctors move to the UK to work under supervision and eventually gain official recognition as GPs employed by the NHS.

Trainees pour out of the rooms and fill the central space of the office that features a two table tennis tables, some couches around a coffee table, and a small kitchen space with a coffee machine that immediately attracts a small queue.

It’s people of unique backgrounds here. Lana was born in Jordan, studied medicine in Ukraine, and has now lived in Greece for the past 30 years. Her daughter lives in the UK, where she is studying to become a doctor, like her mother.

“I thought: why not try something new? I think the NHS offers good conditions for GPs. And my daughter is already there in the UK so that helped me make up my mind about moving,” says Lana.

Lana tried to become a GP in the UK before but she says it was impossible to reconcile her Greek experience with studying for the UK’s GP induction scheme.

“What Paragona has offered me is that I can focus on improving my English and learn about working in the UK. The NHS people are here to help us, too,” Lana says.

Numan joins the conversation. He’s originally from Palestine but for the past 21 years has been living in the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela, where he also got his Spanish GP degree. He has also worked as an emergency doctor.

“I’ve been through other courses before but this is the best. Everything is taken care of. We study not just English but also what the rules are if you work as a GP in the UK, how to refer patients to secondary care and so on,” says Numan.

The crucial part of the course in Piaseczno is learning how to interact with patients. To that end, the future GPs will go through a series of so-called simulations in which British actors – who have just flown in from the UK with their coordinator, Michele Gutteridge, act out various types of people GPs are going to meet.

“So we’ve got somebody who’s very chatty, who’s got some ideas about what’s going on. Somebody else who’s very forthright and direct and very organised. And then somebody else who’s going to be quite emotional and upset,” says Gutteridge, whose actual job title is Simulation Workshop Developer.

Acting out patients’ personalities comes on top of background work to make them as close to real patients as possible.

“Patients’ stories are prepared specifically for Paragona. We were funded to create the scenarios and we had a clinical team to help us. They made sure that all the clinical details are correct and the stories are all clinically viable,” says Gutteridge.

Lana and Numan are finishing their course at Paragona Campus in February, after which they fly back home to get ready for the next step – the actual move to the UK.

Once in the UK, they will have an opportunity to put into practice what they have been learning in Piaseczno.

But the campus never goes quiet. As groups leave, new ones arrive all the time. “We’re having groups coming to us until the end of June,” says Monika Chruściel, Paragona’s Deputy Director of Studies. And she is only talking about scheduled dates while work is underway to complete a detailed schedule for the second half of the year. It will be equally as busy, with doctors arriving not just to receive training to work in the UK, but also in Sweden, Norway, as well as France.

By Wojciech Kość

More info: info@paragona.com or http://www.paragona.com

 

Making a normally bumpy road a comfortable ride

30/01/2020

In 2017, the Swedish-Polish specialists in recruitment for medical professions, Paragona, successfully completed a pilot cooperation programme with the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) that was aimed at reducing GP shortages in the eastern county of Lincolnshire. The result: 25 new GPs have been working in the area since.

That was just the beginning, says Paragona’s CEO Kinga Łozinska. The company has now set its sights on recruiting 100 more GPs in the East Midlands throughout 2019 and 2020. The plan is to offer doctors from continental Europe a great way of setting off on a new career in the UK.

Paragona’s modus operandi is comprehensive, yet simple. To present its offer to doctors, the company holds meetings, known as Medical Career Days, in locations across Europe, such as the Croatian resort of Split, the Bulgarian capital Sofia, or in Barcelona, to name but a few that took place in 2019. Individual Skype meetings and webinars are organized as well.

During those local doctors get to know details of what it entails to sign up to Paragona’s International GP Recruitment (IGPR) scheme. Once committing to take part in the IGPR, they are off to Poland, for an intensive 12-week training programme that elevates their English to B2 (upper intermediate) level plus features some training in NHS standards of patient treatment.

“During our Medical Career Days our guests get a chance to talk, in their native language, with a doctor who already went to the UK with Paragona. We want people to know exactly how we work and how the NHS works. It is interesting that this part is what mostly makes doctors decide to enter the programme,” says Alina Oncica, one of Paragona’s recruitment specialists, responsible for the Romanian and Bulgarian regions.

One such doctor is Dalibor Stoszek, patients’ Doctor of the Year in the Czech Republic in 2011, who has been working under supervision in Lincolnshire since September.

While performing GP duties under supervision, Stoszek keeps studying English so he can take a C1 (advanced) exam and Induction and Refresher (I&R) exam. Being recruited through Paragona, which has guided him through the process of becoming a fully recognized GP, makes a normally bumpy road a comfortable ride.

“The biggest strength of our programme is its comprehensiveness, transparency of rules and the focus on doctor’s needs,” says Łozińska.

“The greatest advantages of Paragona are that you do not have to worry about seeking a job all by yourself and that the company supports you financially during the training,” says Dargiris Beresnevicius, a GP from Lithuania now working in an NHS practice in Louth, Lincolnshire. “Naturally, the training is time-consuming and demanding. But if you wish to do it yourself, it is very difficult and tricky,” he adds.

“We know of many people who lost months, if not years, trying to get in contact with practices in the UK, to pass the IELTS [English exam] or to pass the I&R. With us all of that becomes simply doable, if not easy,” says Łozińska.

But working with Paragona under their NHS contract is not just about money, which, predictably, is better than many European countries can offer their doctors.

“For some families the incentive is to provide their children with a free world-class education. In their home countries the possibility for children to attend British schools means exorbitant tuition fees and high competition during the application process,” says Shirin Hamydova, a recruitment specialist at Paragona. “Many doctors also realise that combining work and education activities without sacrificing their private time is simply the reality of working in the NHS. Doctors can also use a certain amount of working days for professional development. All that means the NHS offers an attractive mix of possibilities both for family doctors and their relatives,” she adds.

Some of them have already made up their minds about moving to the UK for good. Stoszek’s wife is a GP as well and they have a three-year old daughter.

“I’d like them to join me here in the UK after I become an independent GP,” he says.

With Brexit making headlines globally since 2016, it is surprisingly and reassuringly absent from the conversations between Paragona and future GPs. “There are questions about it in the early stage, for example during Medical Career Days, but once doctors join the recruitment programme, they stop worrying about Brexit,” says Maria Roman, one of Paragona’s recruitment specialists.

“We understand that bringing your career to another country is a big step in life and we want to assist medical professionals and their families in it as much as possible. Thanks to our official cooperation with the NHS we are able to make this process easier and more efficient than anyone thought was possible,” says Łozińska.

By Wojciech Kość

More information at info@paragona.com; http://www.paragona.com

Paragona has opened a new campus to train EU doctors to work abroad

15/06/2019

 

The Paragona Company, a leader in the international recruitment of doctors, has opened a modern campus that comprehensively prepares specialists from the European Union to start working at foreign medical practices. The opening of the new campus in Piaseczno, near Warsaw, is a result of the newest extended Paragona’s offer and its desire to provide doctors with the best possible conditions for professional training to enable them to start working abroad.

A comprehensive response to doctors’ needs

Staff shortages in the medical sector in Scandinavia, France, and the UK mean clinics and hospitals are more than willing to recruit foreign doctors. However, many specialists considering pursuing their careers abroad are still afraid of working in a foreign language and are concerned about the differences between medical procedures. The training courses conducted at the Paragona campus, by qualified personnel, are designed to help overcome these barriers.

Our campus is a unique place where training courses are held for doctors from many EU countries, such as Spain, Lithuania, Croatia, Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland. They involve intensive improvement of the foreign language, including professional medical terms, and contain elements of vocational preparation, e.g., the teaching of procedures related to managing the treatment of patients abroad. Despite the formal recognition of medical diplomas and most specializations by all European countries, EU member states pose formal obstacles such as requiring a very high level of competence in the language of the targeted country. For many doctors these barriers are insurmountable.

 Yet our experience shows that, thanks to a combination of On-line learning and classroom courses, they are able to make rapid progress, and that studying at a boarding school – actually an ‘ancient’ form of teaching – brings the best results”, says Kinga Łozińska, CEO of Paragona.

For this reason, before going abroad, the doctors recruited by Paragona attend intensive classroom training courses, during which, using modern and proven methods, they learn the language and the way in which the health service of the country to which they are going operates. So far, Paragona has trained more than 1,000 specialist doctors from the EU who have successfully started work at medical practices located in France, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and the United Kingdom. Paragona’s new campus, where doctors from all over Europe will spend from a few weeks to even a few months, consists of training rooms, a residential area, and a recreational one. The aim of the campus is to help the company provide more comfortable learning conditions to doctors as well as to train larger groups because the demand for doctors from various professions in specific markets is growing.

While staying at our campus, doctors not only learn the language but, above all, they also have the opportunity to talk to future employers and meet other doctors who have decided to further their careers at foreign practices. Thanks to such an approach, when the time comes to moving and start work, the specialists participating in our projects are equipped with all the tools to enable smooth and trouble-free entry into the foreign medical system”, adds Kinga Łozińska.

Recruitment into the National Health Service

Most similar centres focus only on the preparation of doctors willing to work in Scandinavia. Paragona is the only company that also offers classroom training for specialists who have decided to advance their careers in the UK. This is connected with the company’s current implementation of a multi-year project, the largest-to-date – for Britain’s National Health Service (NHS). As part of the project, several thousand general practitioners are to be recruited to work at medical institutions there. At the official opening of the campus on May 22nd, doctors participating in Paragona’s recruitment programme had the opportunity to talk to future employers from the NHS. Details relating to moving to the UK and plans for their upcoming adaptation period were also covered.

 “Work at National Health Service centres is not only an opportunity to improve one’s professional skills. It also means personal growth. The programme that we are executing in cooperation with the NHS is very ‘caring’. Its greatest advantage is the fact that the general practitioners participating in our recruitment process do not have to pass the IELTS language exam or the Occupational English Test (OET). In addition, we offer assistance in all formalities related to relocation and, upon arrival in the UK, doctors receive additional supplementary and introductory training. Of no less importance is the fact that we have received official assurance from the NHS that any Brexit-related arrangements made during the execution of the project will not affect it”, says Kinga Łozińska.

The project being executed by Paragona for the NHS is divided into several stages. The pilot phase ended in the recruitment of 25 general practitioners for practices located in Lincolnshire. Currently, Paragona is focusing on finding another 100 doctors for clinics in the Central Midlands region.

Go to http://www.paragona.com

 

Paragona’s success stories from the doctors’ perspective

21/03/2019

General Practice is by far the largest branch of British medicine. Now, it provides exciting opportunities for European Family Medicine Specialists. If you are a GP considering work in the NHS, we will support you with:
* your English language *paperwork *relocation *and starting to practise in an area of England of your choice.
With Paragona you don’t have to worry about the process. We make it possible!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88stdi10i5Q&t=77s

Go to http://www.paragona.com

Mission accomplished

25/10/2018

A new social room on the campus is finally ready! As our doctors live here for quite some time, anything from a few weeks up to 6 months, and focus only on studying a new language. We would like them to not forget about building new friendships. We hope the new social room will help them to relax after classes and build many social relationships that will last much longer than the lenght of the language course! 🙂

Go to http://www.paragona.com

A new group joined the campus

25/10/2018

On Monday we greeted another group of doctors who started a Swedish language course on the Paragona campus. Over the Summer they visited Sweden & signed the contracts with their new employers. Currently, there are over 30 doctors learning Swedish, Norwegian and Danish on our stationary and the unique online courses. We wish them all, continuous enthusiasm and dedication. Register today www.paragona.com to find out about your opportunities of working abroad.

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Go to http://www.paragona.com

Paragona in Polish media

26/07/2018
Our current offers: http://www.paragona.com

Our courses

08/04/2018

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Language Training, geared towards professional, medical language and the typical situations to be confronted in the new work environment. Special emphasis is placed on preparing you for good communication with patients and colleagues

Go to: http://www.paragona.com

St. Lucia’s Day on the campus

12/12/2017

One of the biggest celebrations in Sweden is St. Lucia’s Day! Today we are celebrating it on Paragona campus with our doctors! Happy St. Lucia’s Day to All!

St Lucia

Paragona in Sweden

01/12/2017

Paragona team with a group of family doctors visited several healthcare centres in Stockholm area. The doctors were very impressed with the modern equipment, working conditions and hospitality of the clinics’ representatives. In the evenings we all enjoyed touring the charming cities and trying some Swedish traditional treats.
To apply for our open work positions in Sweden for family doctors, register at www.paragona.com