Hello, I am Anna Cannon, Clinical Lead for Overseas Nurse Recruitment at YDH and welcome to behind the scenes of an overseas recruitment event.

As a trust, we normally hold five recruitment events overseas each year.

Here is my view of our trip to Dubai in January 2021. Yeovil Hospital and the whole recruitment team during this pandemic made sure we adhered to all government restrictions processes and guidelines whilst we travelled abroad.

Travel day
The alarm is set for 3am- a very early start to what will be a long travel day. I rolled out of bed, and checked (for what seemed like the millionth time) I had everything I needed before heading to the airport. Insurance, tickets, passport, interview packs, posters, leaflets, clothes, money – it’s all in.

The final moment then to weigh the luggage. Always a moment to hold your breath!

On arrival at Heathrow, due to the early hour very little is open. A shame as I do love to shop but a blessing for my bank balance. Boarding was very smooth even with all the enhanced procedures, the flight itself was quiet due to travel restrictions .The airline staff were lovely; they asked us why we were travelling to Dubai and were really enthusiastic for us and the future of our candidates.

Arrive in Dubai – its 10pm. 

We had been travelling for hours and our beds were calling. We unpacked and sent a quick message home letting our families know we arrived safely and then headed off to sleep.

Interview days. 
I always wake up too early due to the time differences. Starting most of my days at 5.00am and the first interview day was no different. I decided to take advantage of my surroundings and go for a run.  To start the day with the sunrise in this beautiful country just feels amazing and sets a smile on your face. I am so lucky my job gives me such opportunities with the most incredible backdrop.

At 7am, I meet with the rest of the recruitment team over breakfast. Everyone is keen to start our face-to-face interviews; this is one of the most exciting parts of our roles. We plan the day and head to the recruitment venue.

From 8am we are ready to go. For me this is the best part of my job, by meeting the nurses face to face, you are able to get a real connection with them and see into their lives. From the outside, it might look like we are just running an event, but it is more – much much more. We get to learn about them as individuals, but also about their families, their aspirations and potential opportunities for their futures. We are participating in a whole new chapter for the successful applicants and to be part of that first step is just such a privilege.

After a full day of interviews, we finish at around 6pm and then emailed everything back to the UK ready to send out offers of employment to our successful nurses. Then it is time to eat and reflect on the day and to catch up with each other and get some much needed fresh air. The night air is quite chilly but nothing compared to the UK.

Fed and watered we made our way back to the hotel enjoying the scenery as we went, the buildings were incredible. Once back at the hotel shortlisting the candidate beckoned us. Shortlisting is a hard but important process but vital to maintain the flow of candidate is into the available interview slots. By 9pm its time to disband and catch up with our families and head to sleep, ready to start again tomorrow.

Rest days
Throughout our trip in Dubai, we got four rest days to process all the candidates and continue shortlisting. Each day I woke early but I took that moment as a little “me” time, to work out in the gym or run outside. It is a way for me to explore when the rest of the world is just waking up.  We are a very dedicated team and always have to remind ourselves to get some downtime and of course do some shopping!

Traveling home
Just like before I checked everything was packed into my bags and weighed the cases again. This time we have to wake up at 4am to leave the accommodation at 5am (1am UK time). Our flight to the UK was via Germany, which was unusual; I had never been to Germany before – not that, I was going to see a lot of it from the airport. After a disjointed journey, we finally arrived back at 9pm. I loved Dubai, but I was glad to be home.

This trip was affected by the travel restrictions in the UK so we had to leave earlier than usual.  We were disappointed we could not stay for the whole time, but we know there will be another very trip soon. 

Each time we go abroad we end up interviewing approximately 300 nurses, it’s a very busy intensive programme but ultimately a real pleasure and worth the long working days.  I would not change it for the world. 

I love to see the nurses, hear their stories then ultimately meet them again in the UK. See them passing their OSCE (objective structured clinical exams) training and then getting to work as registered nurses, is such a thrill. The journey they undertake to be registered nurses in the UK takes drive and commitment and I am very proud that we play a part in helping them achieve their dream.    

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