I was honoured to be selected to receive the Pedsig grant to attend the Royal College of Paediatrics conference this year on behalf of the Soft Landing team. I joined the Soft Landing team close to the time when the initiative was conceived. Initially it was a small team of volunteers all working towards a common goal but it has grown rapidly over the last few years. All the members strive for one goal, to support international medical graduates (IMGs) settle well into life and a career in paediatrics with targeted support and advice.
I was recruited into the team as I had worked on an IMG handbook for paediatrics for my trust (St George’s University Hospital) and was introduced to the team by our college tutor (Dr Nick Prince) who was working on this with me. As a starting point we shared out trust handbook with the soft landing team and distributed it to all IMGs attending our introduction to the NHS workshop. As the team evolved, we realised that we needed a lot more information in the handbook that covered common areas of struggle for IMGs. We thus set up a team of voluntary authors who wrote different chapters based on their interests. The editors then combined these chapters into an online kindle version of the handbook that is being sold on amazon and apple store. The idea of sales was to generate money to support a charity at St George’s and fund activities organised by Soft Landing.
This grant enabled me to present a poster with my colleague, Dr Mahreen Sohail, on this handbook. This helped create awareness of the handbook enabling supervisors to sign post their mentees to it versus duplicating the work and creating individual handbooks for each trust. In addition, we got several important suggestions on how we can get funding to print handbook, an option we are currently exploring.
In addition, I finally managed to meet the team who supported us in terms of encouragement, authoring and editing. Most of the work was online due to lockdown and my maternity leave. It was great to put a face to people I had met online and thank them personally. It was a heart filled moment for all of us that we made sure we captured in a group photo.
I also got to support the Soft Landing and SAS doctor’s workshop that were both targeted at understanding the concerns of IMGs so that we could identify ways of supporting them further.
Overall, I learnt a lot on a personal level from talks and workshops but also got a chance to meet the team I felt was like family for the first time. The Soft-landing team has been a home away from home for me and thus attending the workshops targeted at IMGs and promoting the handbook helped me ensure that I try to give back that same feeling to other IMGs who need support.
Last but most important, I had just come back from maternity leave and was worried about getting funding to attend the conference which was my first face to face conference in the UK. Getting the grant enabled me to attend the conference and take my 18 months old daughter with me. It was a very proud moment for me having my daughter take a picture with me by our poster at the RCPCH conference.
Thank you for the grant and for enabling me to have such an amazing experience!
For readers interested in seeing the IMG handbook, please follow links below: