How Do You Say, "Thank you?"
For the past three years, I've had the wonderful experience of working and living in a world previously unknown to me. I arrived with lots of clinical experience and ideas from home to a place at once familiar and foreign. The language was both comfortable and disconcerting, with a combination of accents: Geordie, Mackem, Australian and Scottish. Senior nurses are called "sisters" while specialists are called "consultants" and addressed as "Mister."
I stumbled and fumbled and tried to absorb like a sponge. The entire set up was unlike anything I'd ever experienced before. For once I didn't have to worry about billing, litigation was only a mild concern and I had the pleasure of being able to focus on treating patients for the bulk of my day. The trust that I worked for supported growth, provided numerous learning opportunities and fostered continued professional development. I did professional research for the first time in 22 years of being a professional clinician! My first poster will be presented at the Physiotherapy UK convention in Liverpool in October.
I've engaged in lively, sometimes frustrating, debate. People have embraced, repelled, listened to, blocked out, argued, joined forces and been completely befuddled with me and my New York City bluntness. I suspect I may have even made a difference.
I've always enjoyed the camaraderie of good clinicians. The people of the NHS will never get rich, have a weekend villa in Spain or be flush in diamonds and pearls. They do look at themselves in the mirror each morning confident in the knowledge that they are doing brilliant things for their fellow countrymen. Prince and pauper alike get the same treatment and no one is turned away. Sometimes the work involves going into dodgy homes, midnight calls, driving through blizzards or being profoundly short staffed. The nurses, physios and other professionals always rise to the occasion.
Today I've bid farewell to my colleagues, teachers, mentors and friends. They have welcomed this stranger into their midst and given so much of themselves. I hope I retain much of what they have taught me. If I can use this knowledge to make life a little better in my home country, then their legacy lives on in my work.
It is in remembering the things I've learned and applying them to my new circumstances that I honor those who I leave behind now. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to the wonderful men and women of the NHS in Sunderland! I'm not only a better physio, I'm a better person for having known you all.