7 February 2022
My name is Ray and I currently working as a Medical Support Worker in an NHS Maternity Ward. After I passed my PLAB 2 exam and while waiting for General Medical Council (GMC) registration – which was taking longer than usual because of the current situation in Myanmar – I was offered a job as a Medical Support Worker in the NHS.
As a Medical Support Worker, we assess patients under supervision by taking their history, doing physical examinations and ordering relevant investigations. Once I started to work as a MSW, I realized that we had been given the greatest opportunity. I learnt the basics of NHS healthcare system; patient-centered care. It involves team-work where everyone from different specialties plays an important part. I received thorough training on procedures, hospital guidelines and protocols. I learnt how to communicate effectively with the patient to get a proper diagnosis and how to deliver correct information by observing my colleagues, including junior doctors, senior registrars, consultants, midwives and receptionists. The aim is to be a safe doctor by knowing your capacities and referring when appropriate as well as to be a good doctor by listening properly to a patient’s concerns and knowing how to address them.
I’m working with a very supportive team in which I have my own supervisor who is always encouraging me and supporting me in every possible way, making sure that I feel safe and protected and taking care of my well-being. Everyone is so friendly and helpful, creating a warm and positive working environment. I felt settled in no time with the help of my colleagues, SHOs and everyone on the team.
I understand that normally it can take some time, even several months, to get a job after registration. But through the MSW programme you become familiar with the whole healthcare system and become confident while trying to build your experience. This job also secures you a skilled worker visa and a salary to support yourself while studying for your future training as well. I’m going to start working as a junior doctor this February and I know I was able to do this thanks to my MSW role which helped me improve my clinical skills and gain important experience.
As a citizen of Myanmar where, currently, the military coup is taking place and healthcare workers are being targeted and are in danger while doing what they are supposed to do – give care to the public – we were facing a difficult situation back home. The Covid pandemic had hit us really hard, I lost my dearest grandparents and a friend because of being unable to provide the necessary medical support as a result of obstacles and obstructions caused by the military. My parents were hospitalized for weeks.
I used to work as a volunteer frontliner in a charity clinic in Myanmar. I have this clear memory where we would be afraid of the news of soldiers coming to the city to do inspections. We would have to run and hide so that we wouldn’t get arrested. All of this suffering should not have happened; it is not illegal to do our job.
2021 was a very challenging year for medical professionals from Myanmar who were struggling to get visas, take PLAB exams, receive registration and start working in NHS. If it weren’t for the MSW programme we would be stuck while trying to stay hidden from the military’s radar and avoid detainment or even life-threatening situations. I was very grateful when the UK Home Office and GMC were sympathetic to our situation and offered to help in every way possible to keep us safe and make our journey as smooth as possible.
It has already been one year since the coup started and we now don’t receive as much international attention as before. We would like the world to know that the terror is still happening in Myanmar, endangering each and every citizen’s life, destroying our future. As a doctor myself and based on the experience I had when I was in Myanmar, I can feel the pain and horror my colleagues in Myanmar are suffering right now, not being able to deliver the health care they want to provide, while being terrified of uncertainty about the future everyday. We are still fighting. We deserve democracy. Healthcare workers do not deserve this kind of treatment.
In the future, I hope we can join hand in hand with every health care organization around the world to help us create better working conditions to provide care. Because this is not just Myanmar’s cause. This is a global cause, and we should all take action to make things right as we can.
If not us, who?
If not now, when?