Jess sets off for the UK
7 March 2017
My passport is back, the day is finally here and in just a few short hours I will be on a plane headed towards London!
It amazes me how much stuff I have managed to accumulate throughout the years but packing is a cut throat business so I have managed to get my life down to a suitcase and a backpack. A pretty impressive feat if I do say so myself! My parents are pretty pleased that half my life isn’t going to be left to clog up their house.
The couple of weeks since I last wrote have been really relaxed. Most of the paperwork had been done and it has just been a waiting game. The down time has given me a well needed opportunity to spend time with my friends and family and the chance to travel around my beautiful wee country (come check it out sometime, you’ll love it!).
I have had a lot of time to reflect on my life in New Zealand and the wonderful people that I have met on my journey. Now is a perfect opportunity to thank everyone who has been a part of my life so far, and helped to shape me into the person I am today, my parents especially. Also to thank my mentors, medical or otherwise, over the past three and a half years for your patience and kindness. I absolutely would not be living such a cool reality if it wasn’t for you!
Alright, the mushy part is over. I’d like to explain the process of getting a job in the UK from New Zealand or just from overseas (because I assume the process is reasonably similar) to give anyone who is considering the move a bit of an idea of what is involved.
I think compared to other people I know who have made the jump, I was on a reasonably tight time constraint for meeting document deadlines so the first few weeks were a bit hectic, however, I was fortunate enough to be able to interview over skype with SCAS at the beginning of December so I didn’t have to travel anywhere to meet with the interviewers. I received my job offer just before Christmas and all the information I needed arrived early-mid January so I could get started on the paperwork.
Medical clearance from both a GP and an optometrist is required, with the information then needing to be posted back to England (via pigeon it seems). This takes a while to be cleared in the UK so it needs to be done reasonably promptly to give them time on the other end to process it.
I had to apply for my HCPC registration seeing as paramedics in NZ are not registered… yet! This is a tonne of paperwork, so I would recommend getting started as early as possible on this as well. Being from small town New Zealand where you could find a job without even an interview or a CV, I think it’s fair to say it has felt a bit overwhelming at times!
I then had to apply for a Tier 2 working visa so that I could stay in the country for longer than two years. This is also a lot of paperwork and involves making an appointment to get fingerprints and photos taken. I got mine done on a typical Wellington day. Wind + sideways rain is a terrible combination for trying to look semi acceptable in photos. This is the main thing that needs to be done sooner rather than later because your passport needs to be sent to the Philippines and this can take up to a month. Fast tracking costs a bit more but it really is fast tracked; mine was back within a week and a half. Wondering if your passport will be back in time is a stress you can do without.
Official ID documents had to be sent back to SCAS as well as your normal employment paperwork.
Then of course, booking flights and sorting accommodation in a city you have never visited before. It’s tricky trying to figure out the best area to live in that is close to training or has an easy transport route to get there when you have no concept of the place you’ll be moving to. Thank goodness for Google maps!
Now that I write all this down it doesn’t sound like a lot, but I promise you, there has been a lot of running around in the last couple of months trying to organise all of it.
I’m so excited though and it will be the perfect opportunity to travel, gain experience, make some new buddies and expand my skills base all in one.
Ok, so that’s all I can think to ramble about today. Next time you hear from me I will wrapped up in my winter clothes in Oxford, a good couple of weeks into my initial training with SCAS!
See you at the other end!
Jess Anderson’s 11,500 mile journey to SCAS
23 February 2017
My name is Jess Anderson; I’m a 23 year old paramedic graduate from New Zealand and in two weeks I am packing up my life and moving half way across the world to start a job with SCAS!
I’d like to start by telling you a bit of my story and how I found myself trying to fit my life into a single suitcase only a few months after completing my degree in paramedicine.
I didn’t always know I wanted to be a paramedic. I spent the first few years of my post-high school life globetrotting and jumping between jobs, just waiting for something to click. In February of 2011, the first real stirring of what I wanted to do showed up when Christchurch, where I was living at the time, was devastated by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake and 185 people were killed. I felt an overwhelming urge to help and get involved but still not knowing entirely sure how. Six years on, I still remember that day and the huge amount of respect that I felt for every member of our emergency services family who worked tirelessly to save lives.
I carried on pottering around for the next few months until I decided to pack up my life and head over to Vietnam to live. I was assigned as an English teacher in a private school (a couple of hours South East of Hanoi in a place called Hai Duong, for those of you that have been there). I stayed there for six months and in this time when I was seeing so much poverty everywhere, it occurred to me that I had a real interest in relief work, medicine and search and rescue so I applied for the paramedicine degree and thankfully I was accepted for the following year!
I spent three years studying in Wellington at Whitireia and during this time I volunteered for St John Ambulance, the New Zealand Fire Service and Special Olympics as a basketball coach. I also worked part time for Idea Services, supporting youths who have intellectual disabilities. Now that I had found my direction, I was keen to learn as much as possible and keen to be involved with people from all different walks of life. As you can imagine, I wasn’t home a lot!
In 2015 I had the privilege of travelling to Nepal to volunteer in a hospital and to learn the different ways that thing were done in less fortunate countries. I very quickly found that I had huge gaps in my primary health care knowledge and how important that aspect of this medicine was to my learning so when I got back to New Zealand I made that my main focus for 2016. I even signed up to do a Bachelor of Nursing in 2017. I never followed through with this though because I was more than ready to be out on the road and utilising my newly acquired skills as a paramedic! Two of my friends had been talking about the jobs that they had been offered with another service in the UK and I think it was fair to say, I was feeling a little bit left out of all the exciting travel talk so I jumped onto the NHS website and did a bit of research into the services that were offering jobs. SCAS stood out instantly because there appeared to be a huge interest in diversity and evidence based medicine which were two things that really resonated with me. It incorporated my love of medical research and of being in a diverse environment, I was sold. I applied and everything moved promptly from there which I really appreciated. I was hoping I would know if I had the job before the end of last year and I was not disappointed. I guess you could call the job offer an early Christmas present!
I am really looking forward to starting my career with SCAS, being back out on the road, learning new skills and meeting some new people! I’d be lying if I didn’t also say that I was also really looking forward to having the UK and Europe on my doorstep.
Of course, fitting everything I want to take over into one suitcase is definitely going to prove as a mission and I have all my fingers and toes crossed that my passport with my visa arrives back in time for my flight out. Hands down, I think one of the biggest hurdles I will have to overcome when I arrive though is my thick New Zealand accent and the pronunciation of my name. You won’t believe the amount of the times that people from overseas have thought I said my name is “Juice”.
Well, 15 days and counting! Looking forward to meeting you all soon.