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28 Mar 2022

Introducing RAMP: RSD’s new project for Healthcare workers

Great excitement at the beginning of 2022 at Refugee Support Devon with the start of our new RAMP project (Refugees as Medical Professionals).

RSD’s education and employability coordinator Denise Parker explains:


“There are many highly-qualified healthcare workers among those seeking refuge in the UK and RAMP is all about finding ways to help them fast- track into their chosen fields in a cost-effective way to fill the many vacancies that currently exist in the NHS.”


The project has a wide and ambitious remit, defining ‘healthcare professionals’ as including doctors, dentists, veterinary surgeons, nurses, dental nurses, dieticians, occupational therapists, podiatrists, pharmacists, speech therapists, optometrists and radiographers, but Denise is confident that it starts from a strong basis.


“We were successful in helping four Afghan doctors a few years ago. Three of them now work in their fields in the NHS and the other works as a phlebotomist. In the process we built up a network of connections with local organisations and individuals who are keen to support this project. In fact, the project has had a very enthusiastic reception from many other relevant parties as being invaluable and timely, especially as reinforcements are needed to build up the NHS workforce following 2 years of the pandemic.”


The pathway into work is far from straightforward. “In general it will involve an exam to prove the client’s level of English, followed by exams on the content of their profession and a clinical skills exam,” Denise explains, “but the exact details will vary for each individual depending on their qualification, work experience, level of English, requirements of the NHS or other professional body.”


Even after all that the clients will be required to do a six-month internship under supervision in the relevant hospital department, so anyone embarking on this route will be in for the long haul. Denise, however, is undaunted.


“RSD is already able to offer preparation for exams which assess clients’ general levels of English, like IELTS and OET, through our existing network of volunteer ESOL tutors and we recently put out a call for volunteer assistance from healthcare professionals and science teachers through RSD’s website and social media pages. The response was really encouraging, people from a wide range of healthcare and science backgrounds got in touch and they are all very keen to assist with the content-specific exams and mentor clients as they transition into the NHS.”


Denise anticipates that a regular stream of volunteer assistance will be required as she intends that this will be a long-term project. “We plan to accept 6 – 8 clients initially, probably increasing 50% year on year as we grow,” she says. “This is the only such provision in the South-West and we anticipate that there will be strong demand for our services.”


Denise will still be very happy to hear from anyone with suitable experience who would like to volunteer on the RAMP project: her e-mail address is education@refugeesupportdevon.org.uk, if you think you can help please drop her line and tell her a little about yourself and she will send you further information.


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