Swapping scrubbing brushes for stethoscopes

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 12 April 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:768
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. London

    Refugee doctors face an uphill struggle trying to secure a job in the NHS, but with the help of Dr Sheila Cheeroth some have achieved their goal

    A newspaper advertisement for Save the Children currently appearing in the national press says “I will be a refugee forever teacher one day” with the adage “Rewrite the future for children around the world.” Substituting “doctor again” for the word “teacher”—“I will be a refugee forever doctor again one day”—aptly describes what Sheila Cheeroth does one day a week, and which she says has taken over her life.

    A GP in the east end of London, Dr Cheeroth is also director of the refugee and overseas qualified doctors' programme, which runs courses for refugee doctors who qualified outside the European Union and who have managed to get permanent resident status in the United Kingdom.

    To many of the doctors, finding themselves unemployed and short of money comes as a terrible shock. “They come here from a middle class background and have been in a position with some status in their own country, and when they come here they become nothing,” says Dr Cheeroth.

    She has taken it upon herself to try to rebuild that self respect by helping doctors overcome the obstacles to securing posts in the NHS. The process is often emotionally fraught, and it involves long days preparing for the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) tests, a rigorous assessment of medical knowledge and its application in the UK set by …

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