Making a normally bumpy road a comfortable ride

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


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