Professor Ali Jawad
Professor Ali Jawad was born in Baghdad and graduated at the top of his class from the city’s medical college. He came to the UK in 1978 and has worked in the NHS ever since, specialising in rheumatology.
In this extract Professor Jawad recalls some of the challenges he faced establishing his medical career in the NHS as an overseas graduate.
Professor Ali Jawad: challenges faced by overseas graduates
I remember one of the, one of the jobs I got, one of the consultants came in and he said, “Look, I generally don’t think doctors who qualified overseas are as good as local graduates.” And he said, “It’s nothing personal because I am a Northerner,” and he said, “I’m really quite plain with people, frank with people and I just generally will tell them what I think.” So I was really petrified, I must admit, I didn’t even tell my wife when I got home, I said, “My God, there is another Saddam coming here.” So I just kept my head down and started work on July 1st and really talked to Sister, everyone -- they said, “Well, he likes this,” so I really did everything that he wanted. And after two weeks his secretary rang me to say, “Ali, come in, he wants you, the boss wants you!” I said “Fine.” I thought, “God Almighty!” And walking through these Nightingale wards to go to his office I could hear my heart thumping because I thought, “That’s it, I’m finished.”
So I went in, I said, “Good morning,” he said, “Sit down, sit down.” I couldn’t believe it, the boss is telling me to sit down. He said, “You know, you’re brilliant, what I told you four weeks ago, I think I am the most cynical human being that you could ever come across,” which is really funny. He says, “To be honest with you I never thought really an overseas doctor who was better than a local graduate and you changed my mind.” And he says, “I am going to help you be a consultant in this country, if you want to stay I will help you get to the top because you deserve it and also because you taught me a lesson.”