How Did I End Up Here?

So I suppose I should start by answering the question that I get asked almost daily since moving here… Why the hell did you move to Nottingham from Canada? It’s the second-most-asked question, right after, “You American?”. And although I hate when people assume I’m American almost as much as when people assume I’m a nurse (no offense nurses, but MRI Radiographer is way cooler); I admit, it’s always satisfying to see people immediately become more pleasant when I tell them no, I’m Canadian.

So how did I get here? Well, way back in my second year at Dalhousie University, while studying a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree in Radiological Technology – mouthful, I know… let’s just reword that to – while I was studying X-Ray at Dal, we had a CT Tech come talk to us about working abroad, in Australia. They were recruiting technologists to work in Australia, and it got me thinking… Work in Nova Scotia where the winters are freezing and snowy, or work in one of the sunniest, warmest places on Earth with beaches everywhere… hmm…

So I started looking into it and the more I looked into it, the more I wanted to move away. Not because I didn’t love home, but because I wanted to explore other parts of the world. Get out of our little community of Hants County. Get one hell of a good tan living in sun for a year or two. So that was my plan at the time – as soon as I’m done university, I’m outta here. Off to the land down under for a year or two to work in X-Ray.

Alas, things changed. In my third year, Dalhousie decided to introduce an MRI certificate program as one of the options for our fourth year specialty courses. I honestly never had any real interest in MRI; I basically just thought the techs just sat at a computer and waited for an hour after pushing the start button, listening to a super loud scanner. I thought that it would be dead boring compared to X-Ray.

However, after doing a clinical shift in MRI, watching what they do, my whole opinion changed and my interest was peaked. So I ended up specializing in MRI. Well, that tacked on an extra four months to me being done with Dalhousie and a friggin’ lot of stress to what was supposed to be an easy, smooth-sailing last year of university. But anyway, that’s a whole ‘nother story.

^ Exhibit A of my rambling and getting off-topic. Apologies. I am sure it will happen a lot.

My get-to-Australia-ASAP plan was postponed for a bit. That was fine, being a dual X-Ray/MRI Technologist would be worth the wait and give me more job opportunities. In the meantime though, I realized I would need a bit of experience to land any decent gigs. And it would be a bit scary to take on moving across the world and starting a brand new career at the same time. So I decided I’d work for a year or two in Nova Scotia first, get a bit of confidence as a technologist, and save up some money in the process – moving countries ain’t cheap.

So you’re probably thinking, Australia is a hell of a ways away from the UK… still doesn’t explain how I ended up in Nottingham. Well, to briefly sum it up… I realized that there are way too many creatures in Australia that can kill you. The process of getting approval to work there in Diagnostic Imaging is long and not easy. And the more I thought about the reasons I wanted to move away, the more I realized it wasn’t so much about moving away as it was about wanting to travel, and see different parts of the world. And that’s pretty difficult from a continent that’s not really near any others.

The company that I had been in contact with regarding working abroad also covered Ireland and the UK. So that got me thinking, the UK would be pretty cool… closer to home, and actually closer to basically everywhere that I wanted to travel to. Plus who doesn’t love the accents from over here? Irish, Scottish, English… I’d listen to any of them all day. Originally, Ireland was actually my first choice, but I’d heard from others that Ireland’s cost of living is fairly high, and England would be a better option. Honestly, I didn’t really care; anywhere in the UK sounded pretty appealing to me.

Once I’d gotten my feet under me and recovered from the initial panic of post-grad life, I had another bit of a setback. The car accident I was in, in 3rd year, had left some permanent damage to my wrist that I needed surgery to try to fix. Again, my moving plans were postponed. My surgeon said it would be six months to a year after the surgery to figure out if the surgery stuck, and if it didn’t, we would revisit other options at that time.

So I decided to put off moving again, until that was sorted and I wouldn’t have to worry about having surgery in another country. I’d still be gaining experience and saving money, so it’s all good. I’d get there eventually… Although I’m fairly certain that nobody actually believed that I was serious about leaving at this point – I’d been talking about it and not actually going anywhere for years at this point.

Of course, meanwhile, my sister decided to give me the most perfect little niece to fall in love with and make it extremely challenging to leave… But finally, in the summer of 2016, almost two years after graduating, I got my shit together and sent my application to the Health and Care Professions Council – HCPC – the UK’s version of CAMRT; the people who would decide if my degree was acceptable/equivalent to allow me to work in the UK. I found out in December, just before Christmas, after three months of panicing about my qualifications not being good enough and telling myself I was never going to be able to work in the UK; I was approved. And thought, I passed! Holy Shit, I can work in the UK. Oh my God, I have to go on a job hunt… How the hell do I pick where to go in England?

Well, I sent my CV (resume in UK terms) to a few different private companies I’d heard about, and a few jobs posted for the NHS. I almost immediately heard back from everyone. I couldn’t believe how quickly they responded… thought jeesh, they must be desperate… But anyway, after a month or so, I had my first interview. And Holy Christ was it ever hard.

I wasn’t prepared for MRI interviews in the UK… In Nova Scotia, they ask the usual interview questions like, how would you handle disagreeing with a coworker; what are your strengths/weaknesses; tell us a situation where you had to overcome an obstacle and how you handled it… etc, etc. The UK interviews asked specific MRI physics questions, anatomy and pathology questions… stuff I hadn’t studied in two years now. Cue another mini panic where I convince myself I’m not going to be able to work in the UK. So after the first one, I got to studying my old notes, and was a bit more prepared for the others.

I had a few options to choose from… Oxford, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, East London area, and some other tiny town I can’t even remember the name of now. With a bit of help from the lovely lady at InHealth who organized two of the interviews for me, I ended up deciding on accepting a position as Senior MRI Radiographer in the centrally located, fairly large but small feeling city of Nottingham… with 250+ bars, how could I go wrong?

So there you have it, the long-winded story of a small-town Nova Scotian gal ending up in Notts.

For anyone that’s interested… the process of getting an HCPC application together, and the VISA process will be my next post… I am actually hoping that this blog may be useful for anyone that’s thinking about making the move across the pond.

Warning: I’m sure it will be a snooze-fest for anyone not interested in moving to the UK from Canada… 🤷‍♀️🤣

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