Diagnostic Radiology

Careers at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust

Anita Brown: ´My experience has been very positive. I would encourage anyone who is thinking of coming to the UK for work to make the most of the opportunity´

The Australian sonographer came to Bristol looking for new experiences in both work and travel. Half way through her 9 month stay she talks about her weekend trips around Europe and how she fitted like a glove into the team.

By Laura Casares

Anita always dreamed of experiencing life abroad. Four years ago she decided that she would swap the beaches, palm trees and hot weather of her beautiful Australian city, Townsville (Queensland), for the colder but exciting and fascinating British life. The NHS would allow her to progress in her career as a sonographer and she would be able to travel around Europe enjoying her other passion: photography.

Her original plans were delayed due to family commitments but it was finally in 2017 when, after applying online, she got a job in the Ultrasound department at UHBristol. Since last October she has been living out her dream in Bristol.

How would yodescribe your experience in England so far?

Very positive and enjoyable experience. I wanted the opportunity to work and live in another country and pursue my travel aspirations. I have been able to make the most of the time I have in the UK.

Tell us about an average day of a sonographer at UHBristol

The days are usually very busy and pass quickly.  Most of the day is spent performing and reporting ultrasounds along with providing supervision and training to students/trainees and performing administrative duties. I get rostered between the BRI, St Michaels and South Bristol Community Hospitals with each department being slightly different in the types of scans they offer, so there is a lot of variety in the working week.

How do you find the sonographer role at UHBristol compared to Australia?

There is very little difference in the sonographer role for me at UHBristol other than sonographers here (& the rest of the UK) issue reports on the scan findings.  In Australia, the sonographer will comment on findings however the final report is issued by the Radiologist.  In Australia training of sonographers encompasses most aspects of ultrasound – general, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, small parts, MSK, etc. – before the trainee becomes fully qualified and therefore the time it takes to train is up to 4 years.  At UHBristol the sonographers have the opportunity to train in certain aspects i.e. general & Gynaecology or Obstetrics & Gynaecology only so the training is completed much more quickly.

What do you do in your spare time?

I like to be out and about with my camera seeing and experiencing new places. I have managed to do quite a bit of travel since arriving in Bristol as it provides easy access to many great places by plane, train and coach.  Most weekends and bank holidays I am able to travel away to a destination in Europe or the UK.

What places have you visited in these few months?

I have managed to have long weekends in Reykjavic (Iceland), Amsterdam, Paris, Bruges, Geneva and the French Alps. UK destinations have also been amazing and can easily be reached from Bristol. In 5 months I have managed to visit areas such as the Jurassic Coast, Dartmoor National Park, the Cotswolds, Brecon Beacons and Gower Peninsula in Wales, Manchester, Oxford and various destinations in Somerset and Wiltshire as well as a few quick trips down to London. The next few weeks will see me visit Edinburgh and the Sottish Highlands, the Lake & Peak District and the Yorkshire.  I even get to take accrued leave while I am here – fantastic!

What is your impression of Bristol?

I visited Bristol on a previous trip to the UK so had an idea about what to expect with regard to the weather and size and type of city I was moving to temporarily.  I settled in immediately to Bristol and felt very comfortable. I like that is very easy to travel around and from Bristol. Generally the weather has not been too bad (no worse than expected for winter).  My work colleagues have been very welcoming and supportive so that helped me to settle in quickly as part of the team and really enjoy my time working.

Would you recommend this experience to other professionals in Australia?

Yes, I would encourage anyone who is thinking of coming to the UK for work to make the most of the opportunity.  I received many negative comments about coming to the UK.  However I can honestly say my experience has been very positive.  I find that many of the challenges faced here by the service are very similar to the ones faced by Ultrasound services and hospitals in Australia.

What advice would you give to other sonographers that may be considering coming to work in the UK?

Do your research so that you can form your own opinions about where you would like to work and live.  If you need to obtain sponsorship and a Tier 2 visa to work in the UK you need to be patient with the process as it can be lengthy. Come with an open mind to new experiences and different ways of doing things. ♦



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