Working Abroad Part 1: UK, Here I Come!
While studying Occupational Therapy at university, it became clear that working in the UK or Ireland for a couple of years was a very common thing for OTs to do. It’s a well trodden path. It sounded so easy: just get a couple of years' experience, and head on over there! It might even be a way of earning seniority more quickly.
Ever since I was a child, living overseas was one of my dreams. Growing up in Australia, as a descendant of white invaders, I felt somewhat disconnected from parts of my cultural heritage. We have developed a new heritage in Australia, which I love, but not all of it makes sense. For example, Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. It’s normally sunny and humid. Backyard cricket is enjoyed with beer in hand, even when a summer storm looms. Meanwhile, the cooks of the family are slaving away in a stuffy kitchen over a hot stove to prepare the traditional baked ham/turkey/pork/chicken or all the the above, with baked vegetables, while singing along to “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” and “dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh”. It just doesn’t add up.
My husband and I decided in 2015 that the following year, 2016, was the time to make our move. The process involved applying for UK registration as an OT, applying for visas, finding work, organising ourselves and our belongings, and working out what to do about all those important extra bits and pieces, like insurance, phones, etc. While most of it was fairly straightforward, it was difficult to find information about what to do and when. For such a well trodden path, it doesn't seem particularly well documented.
So, here is my story of moving from Australia to have a working holiday in the UK. Since there is so much to write, it will be a 5 part series of posts. If you are planning to do this, or something similar, be warned: there is a risk of drowning in paperwork!
Here are the main steps involved:
- Get your UK Occupational Therapy registration with the HCPC
- Work out your plan (e.g. when will you finish work in Australia, fly over to UK, will you have a holiday in between… etc)
- Get your UK visa (if needed)
- Register with recruitment agencies and proving your compliance with NHS policies
- Find somewhere to live, get settled in, start work, etc.
If you have questions, please ask! Just remember that I’m not providing any professional advice here, only sharing my experience, and the experiences others have shared with me.