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Why cultural integration needs to be part of onboarding for overseas doctors

Never has our national appreciation of the NHS been so strong. Our much-loved health service that employs one in 23 of the working population and treats 1.4 million patients every 24 hours is undoubtedly unique. What makes it so? Everything from its funding, governance, and training to its most important asset- its people. The NHS employs 1.5 million people including 107,000 doctors and 286,000 nurses. If you’re one of them, you’ll understand the distinctive NHS culture and ways of working.

Demands on our health service mean the NHS recruits from all over the world. We can easily map across clinical skills to a different system but what about soft skills? Getting a grasp of the NHS culture can be challenging for newly arrived doctors from overseas. New doctors are onboarded clinically through an NHS Trust, but soft skills are frequently left for individuals to develop. For a doctor entering a new workplace with new colleagues in a new country, understanding everyday conventions can be daunting.

In workshops that we run for recently arrived doctors we’re enlightened by their experiences of things they find puzzling about working life in the UK and in the NHS. Self-deprecating humour, understatements in feedback, meeting etiquette. These might be second nature to those who have worked in the UK for many years. But for new recruits, these are all aspects of culture that need to be learned and explained if we’re to successfully integrate international multi-cultural teams who can work together effectively

Mid the culture gap

Since skills including influence, assertiveness, language and collaboration are so important to how we work, at Miad Healthcare we’ve developed a virtual programme aimed at supporting better cultural integration for doctors arriving from overseas.

Where do we see the most opportunity for learning?

  • The NHS structure and governance which is globally unique but complex. Who are the key leaders and how is the NHS regulated?
  • Public connection with the health system. The NHS is a national treasure and is held in affection by the public. This is also a unique facet of our NHS.
  • The NHS ten-year plan. This is not part of clinical onboarding but given its likely impact on the future of health care, it’s important that doctors understand it.
  • The impact of COVID-19. New doctors benefit from an update on on waiting times, medical education and performance statistics.
  • Cultural norms. This includes working in a team, how the hierarchy works, the way in which we value colleagues, celebrating difference and diversity.
  • Behavioural awareness. We find that a session on appropriate and professional assertive behaviour is valuable as is a session on practical Influencing strategies and persuasive communication.

The Miad Healthcare webinar: Working as a Clinician in the UK

Based on feedback from Trusts and from doctors, the Miad Healthcare team has designed a four-hour interactive and practical webinar for doctors who have recently arrived in the UK. The aim of the webinar is to enable doctors to learn about the governance of the NHS and to gain confidence about working in the UK. The webinar involves short input sessions, interspersed with virtual breakout sessions, lively quizzes and time for discussion and questions.

Webinar summary

  • Understand the current challenges and future strategies for the NHS
  • Be familiar with NHS values, hierarchy, leadership and teamworking
  • Explore aspects of British culture so as to work more effectively
  • Learn typical English understatement examples and colloquialisms
  • Develop practical techniques for professional assertion

The webinar is designed for a small group of up to 15 participants with time to ask questions and raise their own issues. It enables participants to gain valuable insights and share their own experiences in an interactive, memorable and engaging session.

This course is also available as a face to face workshop that can be delivered at your trust/ organisation.

By investing in knowledge building and soft skills in addition to clinical skills, we will build better teams that will generate better patient outcomes. If you, or doctors that you supervise would benefit from this webinar, please contact the team here for more information.

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What Our Clients Say...

  • Ruth Frost, Provider Development Lead/Advisor, Health London Partnerships, NHS England. - Miad were a pleasure to work with, engaging, perceptive and flexible to the changing needs as the programme rolled out. They engaged well with the wide range of General Practice
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