Dr Sharma.jpg


Pictured: Dr Sharma (left) with colleagues at Burnley General Teaching Hospital

A medic who came to the UK from India to work with poorly babies has spoken of her gratitude to all the staff at the staff Burnley General Teaching Hospital for welcoming and making her feel like part of their family.

Dr Neha Sharma, 32, is from Madhya Pradesh, a state in central India and came to the UK in December 2016 to join the workforce at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust as part of a recruitment campaign.

Dr Sharma was recruited as a speciality doctor but spent her first six months in the UK working as a junior doctor to allow her to familiarise herself with the NHS and the working system.

Since June 2016, she worked as a registrar at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in the Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre on the site of Burnley General Teaching Hospital.

Dr Sharma, has left behind in India her husband of five years Dewal, who is a radiologist and her family but believes the sacrifice for her career will be worth it as she has always wanted to experience working in hospitals abroad.

She says she is truly enjoying her time working in the UK and has great admiration for the teamwork and multi-disciplinary approach for the management of patients.

Dr Sharma says there are many differences between working as a doctor in India and England but the most important aspect of striving to do the best for patients remains the same.

However, Dr Sharma reveals medicine wasn’t always her career of choice. She explained: “My father was a superintendent in the police and many members of my family were in the police so I always wanted to join a police department.

“However, my grandfather was a dentist and he had a dream of one of the family going into the medical field.

“He encouraged me to at least try it and said if it wasn’t for me, I could always join the police later.

“But once I started doing medicine, I loved it and I knew it was the career for me.

“I loved being with people and I especially enjoyed treating children.

“Serving patients gives me a lot of pleasure and seeing people going away with a smile on their face after recovering gives the greatest satisfaction.”

Dr Sharma graduated from medical college in Madhya Pradesh after five-and-a-half years and for her one-year internship, she specialised in paediatrics.

She then studied her post graduate for three years in Pune, India and following that, she spent two years training in paediatrics and a neonatal intensive care unit.

Dr Sharma said: “While I was doing my sub-speciality, I realised I had a greater interest in the neonatal side of things.

“Then an interview came up for a post in the UK and I went for it as I have always had a dream of getting foreign experience working in hospitals abroad.”

A post also came up for working at a hospital in Australia and Dr Sharma actually got offered both jobs but decided to she wanted to go to the UK.

She explains: “I was more inclined to come to the UK as I have always appreciated the idea of the NHS more than the Australian health system.”

Coming to the UK was a huge challenge for Dr Sharma as it was only the second time she had been abroad having only been to America once with her parents.

Not only did she have to leave her husband and family, she came to the UK alone and lived on the hospital campus at Burnley Teaching Hospitals.

Dr Sharma admitted: “I had anxieties and worries. It was a complete culture shock.

“People spoke with different accents and it was hard to understand them at first.

“I was quite lonely at first, but as soon as I came to the hospital, I was made to feel so welcome.

“The doctors and nursing staff at Burnley are really very good and are so lovely and caring. I have received unconditional love and support from them.”

Dr Sharma says the medical system and working conditions in India are very different from the UK.

She said: “In India, you have to practically work around the clock. There are no holidays or weekends. There was no sickness leave or study leave.

“We only used to have six days of leave a year along with some national holidays.

“I learnt a lot in India as you worked more and were thrown in the deep end. I had a solid foundation from India and had been working as a consultant there for eight months.

“In the UK, you are training for a longer number of years and have to spend eight years training to become a consultant.

“In the UK, I enjoy working with colleagues from different countries and learning from all their experience and skills.

“The NHS also has very strict guidelines so there are a less number of errors and problems. That is very positive.”

Dr Sharma will be in the UK for two years before her visa expires and feels she learnt a lot from her time at Burnley Hospital.

She said: “It has been an amazing experience and has given me a lot of confidence.

“I was asked to be a speaker at the induction programme for overseas trainees by the Royal College of Paediatric Child Health and have also been asked to be part of the British Intern Doctors Association.

“It was a very difficult decision for me to leave my husband for two years to come to the UK. It is a hard thing for a married woman to make such a decision.

“I have left my parents, my in-laws and everyone for my career.

“But I know it will be worth it for my family in the long run.

“I am not sure at the moment if I will go back to India or if my husband will look for a job here. I will wait and see how things turn out.”

Dr Sharma recently began working at a hospital in Manchester to increase her experience during her time in the UK but says she would never have had the confidence to do this if it wasn’t for the positive experience she had at Burnley.

She said: “I want to thank all the consultants and nursing staff at Burnley Hospital for making me feel so welcome.

“They never made me feel like an outsider and have welcomed me as part of their family and looked after me so well.”