Work in the UK

WP_20141019_011Today I will share some information about work in the UK so please feel free to comment and share any tips or experience you have had related to the topic. To find a job in the UK you need to be motivated and hard working. The minimal requirements to get hired are actually quite simple:

  1. Work permission, unless you are UK or EU citizen
  2. National insurance number 
  3. UK Bank account
  4. Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) certificate which is basically a criminal record check and usually the fee for having one is covered by your employer
  5. English language certificate (e.g. IELTS, TOEFL, FCE, CAE etc.)
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In addition to the requirements mentioned above you need a CV, sometimes a motivational letter explaining why you want to do a specific job, and one or two references from previous employers if you have had previous work experience. Often you would have to pass an interview and sometimes employers give tests on interview days. I remember when I applied for a job in a big supermarket they were asking questions about the history of the supermarket, number of supermarkets in the UK and around Europe etc. That is why always expect the unexpected. Sometimes you might think that applying for a job in the local shop would be easy, however, they might give you a maths test on the interview day. If you are applying for a job that requires a degree then it is likely that the process might be a bit longer as there could be additional requirements. For example, if you have a degree from abroad in Pharmacy and you want to work as a Pharmacist in the UK then you need to register on the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) Register first. Some of you might need to get a working visa if you come from outside the EU. But don’t lose hope. It’s possible to get a job in the UK as long as you are determined to be successful and not give up.

Once you have passed through all the requirements, interviews, exams and you have got the job, you might wonder about the pay. Well, the minimal pay per hour can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates

P.S. Today I had my first day working as a First Aider on the rugby pitch. I had to assist casualties with some minor injuries and make sure everyone is alright. The weather was very cold, however, the game was great and UEA women’s rugby team won the game. Congratulations UEA!

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First Aid

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Recently I had a First Aid training which I passed successfully. Hurray! Now I am officially an employee Events First Aider working for my university. My main responsibilities are to preserve life, prevent the situation from worsening and promote recovery of all casualties. Of course, such an opportunity comes with great responsibility and legal accountability. Anyway, there are four main steps in first aid:

Step 1: DANGER? Is it safe for you to provide first aid? If everything is safe then you can provide first aid, however, if there is any risk for your health then remember that safety is your number one priority. For example, if the casualty is bleeding profusely you must put gloves on, otherwise, you put yourself at risk.
Step 2: RESPONSE? Shout and gently tap the shoulders of the casualty. Are they conscious?
Step 3: BREATHING? If someone is talking to you then they are obviously breathing, however, if there is no response you should open the airway by tilting the head back and lifting the chin. Look for chest movements, feel for warm air on your cheek and listen for breathing sounds for 10 seconds.

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Step 4: PROBLEM? What’s the problem?
Responsive, Breathing -> Find out what the injury is and treat the casualty appropriately. For example, if they have a broken wrist you should tell them not to move it, put an ice pack on it, and elevate it in a sling until an ambulance arrives.
Unresponsive, Breathing -> Recovery position
Unresponsive, NOT breathing -> CPR (chest compressions), and call an ambulance (999 or 112). Closest hospital to the University of East Anglia is the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

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A trainee nurse at hospital!

Have you ever heard of the saying ‘There is always a first time’? Well, you will hear it often when you are having your first clinical placement as a student.

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At the moment I’m having my so called ‘taster placement’ at a local hospital. This is the time when I am able to feed patients, give bed baths, administer drugs, make observations of vital signs, clean hospital equipment, communicate with patients and their family members. However, it was also my very first time to work 12 hour shifts, deal with patients who are aggressive, deal with stress, be spit at, shouted at, get used to all sorts of smells, see patients naked, and be on duty all day. I am glad I paid attention during all my lectures and did all my homework because the knowledge I gained from university boost my confidence to apply my skills in practice. Although, being a nurse is a challenging job, I absolutely love it because every day is different and you never get bored of it. Furthermore, seeing patients recover is very rewarding.

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It is important to point out that my mentor is a great example of a highly-skilled nurse who is also a kind and cheerful person. Her encouragement and support helped me expand my knowledge and gain new skills, for example, taking out a surgical drain bag, using a bladder scanner etc. She does everything to help me gain as much knowledge and experience as possible. In addition, she gives me quizzes and examines me to see how I progress. I feel lucky that I met her because she inspired me to give the best out of myself.

Here are my top tips for students going on their first clinical placement:

  1. Wear comfortable shoes
  2. Bring your lunch box and drink
  3. Don’t do anything if you don’t know how to do it
  4. Don’t be scared to do something if you know how to do it
  5. Take notes and reflect on your experience

Student Life @ UEA

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It has been more than a month since I started my Nursing degree. My parents and friends often ask me if I like it, if it is too difficult, if there are any problems or challenges, if I have made new friends etc. So I thought it would be nice to reflect on my experience as a student so far. So here are some bullet-points on different aspects:

• Nursing degree – The course is demanding, the study load is challenging and the responsibility is great. By the end of Module 1 I need to write at least 9100 words in total in the form of assignments and essays. In addition, we make presentations about patients with various diseases. To be honest, I love everything I learn and I find my course extremely interesting. However, sometimes deadlines and academic requirements make things a bit scarier than they actually are. Either way, I just deal with it. -.-“

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• Friends and social life – With such a great variety and diversity of people around you there is no way you will be lonely or bored. There are plenty of events, parties and social events to chose from and people to meet. I made friends with people from different nationalities and backgrounds which makes life so exciting. It is amazing how easy it is to make friends with people and enjoy even boring things like cooking, studying, shopping or cleaning. Going out or celebrating together is the best way to let the steam off. Movie nights, for example, are a great way to release stress and relax. 🐱

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• Finances – If you can’t cook for yourself then you’re in trouble. An average lunch costs 5 pounds so spending 15 pounds a day for food will easily make you go bankrupt. Some of my flatmates can’t cook and neither can I. That is why I’m learning how to cook. Another thing to consider is your accomodation costs. If you’re living on campus then sharing a twin room is the cheapest option. However, privacy and having your own bedroom is best in my opinion. Lastly, instead of calling a taxi or taking the bus it would be nice to buy yourself a bike so you could go wherever you want and keep fit for free. 😀

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• Relationships – If you have a boyfriend/girlfriend who lives in a different town/country then you could experience additional stress by missing him/her or even get depressed if you don’t get the chance to meet him/her often. Communication with your loved one is vital if you want to make your relationship work out well. Furthermore, being separated from your family might not be as great as you have thought it would be. The independence you gain brings responsibilities which you might struggle to face on your own. Stay in touch with your mom, dad and siblings. Remember that they miss you as well.

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What’s Nursing all about?

As a student nurse I need to study human anatomy and physiology (A&P). Now these are some serious subjects right there. The human being, however, is much more complex than what our textbooks teach us.

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Nursing is all about a holistic approach to care! ‘What is it exactly?’ you may ask. In the 20th century George Engel introduced the biopsychosocial model which is a holistic approach to care in treatment of patients in order to prevent the dehumanization of care. Nurses are not just dealing with symptoms, illnesses or diseases but with people. A&P can teach you where the heart is, how big it is, what type of cells it is composed of and what function it has, however, A&P will not teach you that the heart of a patient might be filled with stress, fear, anxiety, anger, hate, hopelessness, or sorrow. It is important to understand that nurses are to look at a patient as a person who has physical, psychological, mental, social and spiritual needs and a nurse’s job is to identify these needs and help the patient.

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A nurse which observes a patient holistically should trace all the way back to the initial reason why a patient is suffering from a certain symptom or illness. For example, long-term unemployment could lead to depression. Depression, which is a mental disorder, could lead to physical symptoms, such as: insomnia, fatigue, malnutrition or obesity. These symptoms could lead to a compromised immune system, which leads to a higher risk of infections and an untreated infection could lead to death. Some of you might say that this sounds ridiculous but it is often the little things that could lead to great harm. In March 2014 there was a man from Lancashire who died of a heart attack, due to a septic infection, all because he had the habit of biting his nails. But why was this man biting his nails in the first place? Guess! Yes, he suffered from depression and anxiety.

To sum up, a patient is a person who has certain needs. Having a holistic approach to the treatment of patients is the key to becoming a good nurse.

Silent Communication

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Recently I joined one of the societies at UEA called British Sign Language or simply BSL. At first I was just curious but then I realized that learning a sign language is one of the most fun things to do. Although in the beginning this silent way of communication looked too difficult, I found out that it is indeed a truly simple and effective way of expressing yourself and understanding others.

Sign language involves not only your hands but also your facial expressions, and body movements. It uses various signs (hand movements + appropriate facial expressions) to express words. Unlike American Sign Language, British Sign Language uses both hands. By pointing at each finger on your left hand with your right index finger you can ‘say’ the vowels, however, if you are left handed you should do the exact opposite. Yes, even in sign language people are either left- or right-handed. You didn’t know that, did you? What is more, there are different dialects and each country has its own unique sign language.

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OK, next thing to keep in mind is that you should avoid moving your hands way too far from your body. Best is to keep your hands around the level of your chest without letting them fall down too low neither keeping them too high. In addition, it would be great if you open your lips and ‘speak’ without actually pronouncing out loud the letters or words. After some time you will learn how to lip-read as well.

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Will you be able to decode the secret message which is finger-spelled below?

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This is a quote by Helen Keller, a girl who was not only deaf and mute but also blind. Despite her disability, she graduated college and published 12 books. She learned how to speak and how to understand people by reading their lips with her hands. Keller is an outstanding example of how communication in any form can enlighten someone’s life and bring hope and joy.

I truly hope you learned something interesting and useful. It might happen only a few times in your lifetime to meet a person with deafness or muteness but wouldn’t it be nice to bring happiness in someone’s life by simply communicating with them?

More Than You Came For!

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I moved to the UK to pursue my dream of becoming a nurse – I was determined to benefit from everything University of East Anglia (UEA) could offer and give my best in achieving my goal. However, preparing for my first year at university filled me not only with excitement but also nerve-wrecking impatience and fear of the unknown.

From the day I received my offer in Adult Nursing my mom and I eagerly started shopping for all the things (clothes, shoes, accessories etc.) I would need as a student. I remember searching tips on-line on what to bring to university and found very useful information on The Student Room pages, UEA’s New Students page and video blogs on YouTube. After I graduated high-school I left my homeland – Bulgaria and moved to England three months prior to the beginning of my course. I spent my summer with my sister, meeting new people, travelling and adapting to British culture. In the meantime, I joined a Facebook group of other students going to study Nursing at UEA which was a great help in regard to all the additional documents I had to provide, deadlines to meet, tasks to do and almost any aspect of the application and registration process. I also enjoyed the moment when everyone introduced themselves in the Student Accommodation group on Facebook where I found most of the people from my block. After completing my on-line registration for my study at UEA I obtained access to UEA’s Blackboard (virtual learning environment). I had my journey to campus well-planned in advance and was able to familiarize myself with the study materials available on the Blackboard as well as all the options it provides (e-mailing, library search etc.). To be frank, using Blackboard is quite easy once you get the hang of it.

When I arrived, however, my confidence vanished in thin air. I panicked about how on earth will I move my three large and heavy suitcases all the way to my room. I felt extremely shy to ask for help.  Luckily, a few students offered to help and my problem was solved. I fell in love with my room since it was spacious, bright and with an amazing view. My flatmates were welcoming and friendly which made me feel like home. From the very first night we were chatting and laughing together, thus the ice between us melted really fast.

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During fresher’s wEEK I had no clue which event to attend first since some of them were overlapping. As a result, I decided that the right and best thing to do is stick to my induction programme even though it looked tempting to skip lectures. After the registration event I went to the fresher’s fair, which I recommend to anyone who loves free stuff (e.g. yummy pizza) and tons of discount offers. The whole thing is about attracting students to visit various restaurants, gyms, cafes, shops and benefit from numerous discounts and offers.

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The student union held its annual pots & pans sale which I took advantage of. Basically, senior students leave behind their cutlery when they move out of University halls so the union sells them as part of a Reduce, Reuse, Recycle project. Similarly, there was an annual bike auction where abandoned and donated bikes got sold while the money (around 8,700 pounds) was donated to East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH). I got a great bike for only fifty-five pounds and also felt good about spending every penny on it knowing where the money went!

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My first week flew away really fast but it was filled with joyful events, memorable moments and lots of fun! In five days time I learned where the main buildings are, such as The Library, Lower Common Room, Sportspark, Medical Centre and made a great number of new friends. Everything went smoother than I expected. I almost forgot to mention that you should definitely check out the student clubs and societies, join the ones you like and meet new people who share similar interests as you!

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My top tips for new students:

  1. Plan and prepare early for adapting to your new life
  2. Don’t be shy to ask for help
  3. Socialize both on-line and in person with almost everyone
  4. Do attend all your introductory lectures
  5. Take notes of all the new information you learn