Precious Joy James

© Christian Sinibaldi

I am originally from Lagos, Nigeria and I came to the UK in January 2022 to work as a staff nurse at Royal Brompton Hospital, specifically within the Heart and Lung Critical Care Division.

I felt strongly that it was the right time to set abroad and broaden my horizons. I had some reservations about being so far from home alone, but I was convinced that it was the right decision, and I relied on God’s direction the entire way. My confidence was made stronger by the support and encouragement I got from my loved ones and family. I chose the NHS because I’ve always believed that people deserve equal access to healthcare services and the NHS actualises that. I wanted to make my parents proud by doing something that would bring them joy – a national service does just that.

The process of transitioning to the UK was straightforward for me. Once I knew I was ready, I registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC UK) and underwent verification with my home country’s nursing body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria. I proceeded to take the first part of the NMC UK exams, the CbT, and received my results immediately. I also wrote my IELTS and passed successfully. Shortly after, I started applying for jobs and received two interview offers. The time between coming to the UK, training , taking exams and getting licensed as a nurse here took a few months.

As I waved goodbye to my family at the airport, the new life awaiting me began to really dawn on me. I was now moving far away to a different continent. None of my family members have decided to take a similar route. They are exploring other fields outside of healthcare. I believe everyone has their own path in life.

I knew it would be very different from what I’d been accustomed to, but I knew that I also wanted to see what else was out there for me.

Strength lies in differences, not in similarities. I enjoy differences and so for me, it was very easy to adapt coming in here. I’d say it was quite organic and I didn’t struggle, though I might have found the drinking culture here quite interesting. I’m not big on drinking and so it was a bit challenging having hangouts in crowded pubs, but I soon realised it wasn’t as hard as my introverted side had analysed it to be.

I’ve held onto who I am –  my faith, my dreams, my love for people, my desire to keep helping people, my decision to treat people individually and respect their choices, my decision to keep growing and being the best I can be.

My family and I all share in the joy of staying in touch via phone calls and texts, which in turn strengthens our bonds. Though the initial euphoria did not give me the opportunity to be homesick for a good few months, it eventually caught up with me. There were days I just desired a hug from my parents or sisters. Due to the distance, I can’t just up and leave for a visit when I feel like it. It’s something I need to plan and make arrangements for. I’ve had two occasions where I just let tears flow down my cheeks as I knew that the things I desired were not about to happen and would need time. It’s also more challenging when there is a sick relative back home. It comes with a lot of fears and mixed emotions.

Overall, I’d say moving to a new country to work has both been daring and fulfilling. I’ve savoured every moment of being and working here. The concept of the NHS is great, and I love where I work. I know there is room for improvement within the NHS, but it’s also important to recognise that this system is a blessing to millions of people who continue to benefit from it one way or another. It has blessed me and I’m thankful to God for the privilege to serve and care for people, to put smiles on their faces, and to be a positive impact in their lives.