We interviewed Dr Simangaliso Sibanda, Pediatric Registrar at Letterkenny University Hospital to get her view on moving to Ireland.

Dr Sibanda is a Zimbabwean experienced Paediatric Registrar that decided to pack up and move to Ireland from South Africa with her husband and 3 daughters. She moved to Ireland and started working at Letterkenny University Hospital in Donegal in January 2021. After 9 months living and working in Ireland, she answered some questions about how her family has adapted to the country and what it has been like for her to adapt to a new healthcare system.

Why did you decide to move to Ireland?

As a Zimbabweans trained doctor, I done my internship in South Africa, Ireland was one of the easiest European countries to access as Ireland doesn’t required me to write PRES exam since I completed my internship in South Africa.

What did you think of the registration process with the IMC? How long did it take to complete your process?

I think took me about 9 months to registrar with IMC. There’s a lot of information about the process but I guess because of Covid and other administrative issues, it  took longer to obtain and to satisfy the requirements.

What were your biggest concerns about the move?

I guess my biggest concerns about the move was you know  would we be able to cope, would I be able to cope at work, scope of practice would it be the same would I struggle to adjust to the work environment? And then on a social level, how would we fit in with Society me and the family would the girls make friends easily? Would we find the kind of food that were used to eating at home? We found that the people are quite friendly, the colleagues at work they’re very helpful and understanding patient with me as I am adjusted, it didn’t take long. And everyone is willing to help and answer when I had issues.

What was the biggest challenge for you and your family settling in Ireland?

Of course the biggest challenge for us was the weather. We left Africa when it was pick of summer and then when we got here it is kick off winter so that was a drastic adjustment for us. The days were so short I leave for work when it was dark and I’ll come back when it was still dark to dark again. So the weather really was the biggest challenge. Because the girls of course love the snow and they just want to go outside and make snowman.

What do you like most about living in Ireland?

Well, the Irish people are very friendly, especially in Donegal we only settled here, but the people are so friendly at work, at home, and the streets. People will great you and smile and start a conversation. So that’s one of the best things about living in this place.

What was the biggest difference about working in Ireland versus in South Africa?

Well, the difference between the systems are: I came from a system where the numbers are very large, bigger Hospital, bigger population. The disease burden is also different, the types of illnesses that I would see very commonly in Africa at different format that I have been exposed to here. The kind of Technology Diagnostics that is available for me to use in the workplace here is different. There’s a lot more diagnostic tools that are accessible for the patient here than back in South Africa.

How many hours do you work in a normal week?

In a normal week, I work 39 hours Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. To 5 p.m. And then Monday to Thursday 9:00 to 5:00 and then on Friday 9:00 to 4:00 p.m. And I do over time at least one weekend in the month and average maybe a total of five to six calls in a month.

How did MatchMedics helped you through the process?

Graham from Matchmedics found my cv on one website and he contacted me, arranged a number of interviews for me, help me with the pre-interview preparation, help me until I got a job and when I did get a job he answered my questions about applying for certain things. He even helped us just to put in a word for us when we were looking for accommodation before we arrived and was always on hand to answer our questions about the move, so it was great to have someone just it takes the away and chat away who could help us in all regards.

What advice would you give to doctors coming over?

I would say to those who are coming over:  go for it! There’s a lot to learn, the amount of exposure that you will get is invaluable and professionally you will get a different view of many things from the types of illnesses, what is available for use in terms of diagnosis treatment options and then from a social perspective, you meet so many wonderful people that a lot of people from different places different cultures so the workplace is quite diverse.

Yes, it’s a good experience. It’s a worthwhile experience.

it is challenging getting onto the training scheme as an international medical graduate but change is happening where access to the training program is improving.


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